Addition of Owners to Table Praised : Baseball: But the Dodgers’ O’Malley urges that Selig choose a group of “cool heads” to join negotiations next week.
Dodger Owner Peter O’Malley said Friday that the decision to have five owners join negotiator Richard Ravitch at the bargaining table was an opportunity for something positive to happen in the baseball strike.
He added, however, “It would be a mistake to pick extremists from either end (of the ownership spectrum).”
O’Malley would not identify the extremists, but said there are some owners whose selection by acting Commissioner Bud Selig would not help the process.
On Day 8 of the players’ strike, he cited the significant financial losses on both sides and said it was time for a concerted effort aimed at resolving the differences. He said that he hoped Selig’s selection included a “broad outlook of new and old ownership ... cool heads, far-thinking people. It’s time for diplomacy and understanding, not a lot of shouting across the table.”
O’Malley said he would participate if asked but would support whomever is picked. He said he continues to support the owners’ salary-cap proposal but that it would be inappropriate to comment on strategy or speculate as to what might happen, adhering to Selig’s dictate restricting comment.
Reached in Milwaukee, Selig said he has not settled on the group that will join Ravitch when bargaining with the players union resumes on Tuesday or Wednesday in New York. Sources said he will select a pool of 10-12 owners, with no more than five attending any negotiating session at the request of federal mediators.
The list, they said, would be completed over the weekend, with Boston Red Sox Owner John Harrington and Philadelphia Phillie executive David Montgomery, probably representing the big markets, and General Manager Andy MacPhail of the Minnesota Twins representing the small markets.
Among others frequently mentioned Friday: Fred Wilpon of the New York Mets, Claude Brochu of the Montreal Expos, John Ellis of the Seattle Mariners, Jerry Reinsdorf of the Chicago White Sox and Jerry McMorris of the Colorado Rockies.
Selig, who considers himself a consensus builder, said he was not specifically asked by the mediators to select representatives of the big, middle and small markets, but was doing it anyway, spanning ownership’s approach to revenue sharing and the salary-cap proposal that the union has said it will not accept.
“I’ll be as fair as I can,” he said. “All points of view will be represented.”
Whether it is all window dressing, with the owners unwilling to compromise on their salary-cap proposal, remains to be seen. Selig and Ravitch stressed again Friday that the proposal has not been modified, nor is it likely to be.
Gene Orza, the union’s associate general counsel, said the selection of owners could be significant.
“Theoretically, it matters in the sense that a representative sampling of clubs would include small markets, big markets so to speak, those who aren’t interested in busting the union, those who are, those for whom salary caps are a religious proposition and those for whom (they are) not,” Orza said.
“The suspicion already is growing that the one thing they will have in common is their ability to sing as a chorus.”