Owners say they would prefer having a salary cap over the World Series

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — With 10 percent of the season canceled because of the strike, federal mediators said they will meet separately tomorrow with baseball players and owners.

Union head Donald Fehr and management Richard Ravitch didn’t have any new ideas yesterday. Both said the positions of their sides hadn’t changed, and Ravitch, choosing his words carefully, hinted strongly that owners are prepared to sacrifice the World Series in order to gain the salary cap they want.

“I think the owners want to do everything humanly possible to save the postseason,” Ravitch said during a telephone conference call with reporters. “But they also want to save baseball for the future, and that is a very, very high priority.”

No new bargaining sessions are scheduled. The strike, which began Aug. 12, canceled nine games yesterday, raising the total to 232.

“So far as I know, there isn’t anything going on,” Fehr said. “They know we’re willing to get together if there’s a purpose.”

Fehr, convinced that owners have a preset timetable, said the union considered having players return to the field for the remainder of the regular season, collect the rest of their salaries and then strike the postseason. Players are paid their entire salaries by the time the regular season ends.

“We’ve played with the notion but not seriously,” he said. “Either they want to make a deal or they don’t want make a deal. We’ll find out soon enough. It does not appear they want to make a deal.”

Ravitch spoke with John Calhoun Wells, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, and Fehr spoke with Brian Flores, an assistant to Wells. Flores said the mediators wouldn’t hold a meeting unless they thought there could be progress.

“If there’s any reason for it, there will be one,” he said by telephone from Washington. “But we’ve haven’t made up our mind.”

Ravitch said a stumbling block to the negotiations is the players’ belief that owners will abandon their salary cap proposal. That view traveled across the bargaining table during last week’s talks.

“The owners came back having the impression that the players still thought the owners would fold,” Ravitch said.

Ravitch still said he had trouble believing the stoppage will continue into next season. Fehr has said the strike will continue “as long as it takes” to shelve the salary cap.


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