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Hot Issue of Salary Cap Is Put on Back Burner by Negotiators

Negotiators for baseball’s owners and players won’t resume formal talks on management’s demand for a salary cap until Wednesday, 48 hours before the players’ strike deadline. There will be meetings Monday and Tuesday in New York to discuss non-economic issues.

“Assuming there is ultimately an agreement on the economics, we might as well try to get everything else out of the way first,” management negotiator Richard Ravitch said Friday.

Gene Orza, the union’s associate general counsel, said if the owners continue to insist on a salary cap, it would be wrong to assume there will be an agreement on the economics.

“We’re prepared to fight that for as long as it takes,” Orza said again Friday, “but I don’t think the owners are concerned. I think they want to pressure the players into a strike and try to break the union if they can.”

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In a meeting Friday morning, the union presented a series of alternative proposals that would enable the owners to increase revenue sharing with the small-market clubs without tying it to a salary cap. Most were based on an increased sharing of local broadcasting revenue.

“We’ve never denied that revenue streams can change from year to year,” union Executive Director Don Fehr said. “If national TV revenue is down, local TV revenue is up, so it makes sense to change the (revenue-sharing) formula to reflect that without making the players pay for it with a salary cap.”

The response of management lawyers? “They didn’t do cartwheels, but they listened, at least,” a union official said.


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