O’Malley Praises Addition of Owners : Baseball: But the Dodgers’ owner 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 in response to a request by federal mediators was an opportunity for something positive to happen. 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, Selig said he had yet to finalize the group that will join Ravitch when bargaining talks with the players’ union resume on Tuesday or Wednesday in New York.
It was learned, however, that he will select a pool of 10 owners and club officials, with no more than five attending any negotiation session, of which there have been none since the strike began.
Wendy Selig-Prieb, Selig’s 34-year-old daughter and the Milwaukee Brewers’ vice president-general counsel, is thought to be among the five meeting with the union first.
Also likely to be in that group are Philadelphia Phillie Executive Vice President David Montgomery and Minnesota Twin General Manager Andy MacPhail, whose father, Lee, then American League president, helped settle the August 1985 strike.
Sources said Selig has reserved the right to make changes over the weekend, but the pool is also expected to include Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, Toronto Blue Jay President Paul Beeston, Colorado Rockies owner Jerry McMorris, Boston Red Sox CEO John Harrington, Houston Astro owner Drayton McLane, Seattle Mariner CEO John Ellis and Atlanta Brave President Stan Kasten.
Selig 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 the salary-cap proposal, remains to be seen. Selig and Ravitch said again Friday that the proposal has not been modified, nor is that likely.
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 it is 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.”
O’Malley cited the significant financial losses on both sides and said it was time for a concerted effort aimed at resolving the differences and hoped Selig’s selections 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.”
He said he would participate if asked but would also support whoever is picked. He said he continues to support the owners’ salary-cap proposal but felt it would be inappropriate to comment on strategy or speculate as to what might happen, adhering to Selig’s dictate restricting comment.