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AROUND THE MAJORS

Both Sides Call Labor Meeting Constructive

July 25, 2002|From Staff and Wire Reports

Amid positive overtones and defused rhetoric, lawyers for the baseball owners and players agreed Wednesday that the resumption of collective bargaining negotiations in New York had produced a constructive exchange of ideas on how to bridge their differences on the key issue of revenue sharing among the clubs.

"It was time well spent in terms of the ultimate goal of the process," Rob Manfred, management's lead lawyer, said. "We had a productive exchange of ideas. The process is going the way you would want it to go right now."

Union lawyer Steve Fehr, the brother of Executive Director Don Fehr, said there were "positive vibrations"--an extension of Friday's talks about revenue sharing.

"We were talking about things that mattered, and it was a good discussion," Fehr said.

It is believed that if the sides can reach agreement on revenue sharing, with the final figure satisfying the owners, there is an increased possibility of an agreement on the more contentious issue of a luxury tax on high payrolls--which could then, perhaps, be graduated in at thresholds less onerous to the union than what the owners initially proposed: a 50% tax on the portions of payroll above $98 million, which the union considers tantamount to a salary cap.

The revenue-sharing proposals find the sides separated by only $70 million--the owners at $298 million and the players at $228 million--but there are ancillary elements of disagreement, including method of distribution and amount of the commissioner's proposed discretionary fund, that are part of the revenue-sharing package.

The sides also discussed deferred compensation funding and player medical issues Wednesday, and the talks are scheduled to continue today and Friday.

Ross Newhan

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A federal judge in New York scheduled an Oct. 11 conference for the racketeering suit filed last week against baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and former Montreal Expo owner Jeffrey Loria, now owner of the Florida Marlins.

The suit was filed in Miami by unhappy Canadian investors who accused Selig, Loria and their staffs of illegal conduct that "effectively destroyed the economic viability of baseball in Montreal."

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Ted Williams' daughter disputed allegations that she harassed her father's lawyer.

Bobby-Jo Williams Ferrell, feuding with her half brother and half sister over the remains of their father, said she called attorney Eric Abel one day after Williams' death simply to find out what happened to her father's body.

Ted Williams died July 5 and his body was sent to be frozen at Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Arizona, under the orders of John Henry Williams and Claudia Williams.

Ferrell denied the allegation Abel made in an affidavit filed Tuesday that she left him a threatening message. Abel did not immediately return a message seeking comment Wednesday.

Claudia and John Henry Williams, in a motion filed Tuesday, asked the court to stop Ferrell from "harassing and attempting to intimidate witnesses."

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Left-handed pitcher Al Leiter and the New York Mets agreed to an $18-million, two-year contract extension.

The Mets, who have climbed back into the National League wild-card race with a recent surge, ended trade speculation surrounding Leiter.

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Detroit put shortstop Ramon Santiago on the disabled list after he had surgery for a fractured right wrist. He is expected to sit out from four to six weeks....Boston pitcher Dustin Hermanson went back on the disabled list, five days after he was activated. The right-hander had fluid caused by a staph infection drained from his left elbow. He had not pitched since April 3 because of a strained groin.

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