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Owners Well Informed, but No Deal Is in Sight


Acting Commissioner Bud Selig said Wednesday that a process of educating owners on the proposed labor agreement will continue before negotiations resume with the players' union.

Selig refused to speculate when those talks would resume but said he was hopeful it would be in the "near future."

"I'm merely trying to create a level of understanding," he said after the ruling executive council was briefed by lead negotiator Randy Levine and the labor policy committee for five hours in Chicago.

"When the deal is done, nobody is going to be able to say, 'Bud, why didn't you tell us this?' " Selig said. "I'll feel good about that. It will be the first time in history that's been done. When Randy moves forward [with the talks], we want to all move forward together."

Levine and union leader Donald Fehr resolved many of the core economic issues during a flurry of meetings over a 48-hour period beginning Aug. 9, but have not met on a regular basis since.

Some owners have expressed opposition to restoring service time to the players for the 75 regular-season days they were on strike and to giving the union a second, tax-free year at the end of what would be a six-year deal.

Selig said there were "huge differences of opinion" among owners Wednesday, but no votes were taken and Levine was not ordered to restructure any part of the proposed agreement--an order that might have prompted Levine's resignation.

Selig said he will be consulting with Levine and the labor committee on how to resolve the service time and tax questions over the next few days.

Although some owners disagree, it is believed Selig has the 21 votes necessary to ratify an agreement, and Levine seemed to concur.

"I believe a deal is going to be made," Levine said after detailing a history of the talks for the executive council.

He acknowledged, however, that there was evidence in the meeting of "a lot of misunderstanding and miscommunication."

Atlanta Brave chairman Bill Bartholomay, an ex-officio member of the council, expressed weariness with the process.

"I think there's a sense of frustration here," he said. "It's gone on for so long. It's almost like the Thirty Years War--although even that came to an end. It's ridiculous."

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