The Associated Press
NEW YORK Ä Baseball owners canceled a quarterly meeting set for next week, and their negotiator said Tuesday it had nothing to do with stifling dissent within the group.
"As long as the players are on strike, the clubs will devote all their efforts to resolving the dispute," acting commissioner Bud Selig said. "Many owners are involved in the negotiations and everybody agrees it would serve no useful purpose to spend a couple of days in meetings and divert attention from the compelling task at hand."
Richard Ravitch, management's negotiator, denied the meeting was called off in an effort to deny a forum to owners who dissent from management's bargaining position. The meeting had been scheduled for Sept. 7-9 in Detroit.
"In the conference call today, there was not one owner who suggested that meeting go forward," Ravitch said. "No one objected, so it can't be a move to stifle dissent."
Selig, in a telephone interview, said after a telephone conference call with about 18 clubs that there was no desire to go ahead with the meeting but that it would be held in Detroit before the end of the year.
"This was one time I was willing to let the minority rule if a fair number of clubs wanted a meeting," he said. "There was just frankly no desire."
Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, the most outspoken opponent of management's demand for a salary cap, declined comment but said the lack of bargaining as the work stoppage completed its 19th day.
"There nothing going on at all," he said.
Owners have not met since June 9 in Cincinnati. They also canceled meetings during the early part of the 1981 strike and during the middle of the 1990 lockout.
"It sounds like somebody doesn't want to have a meeting," union head Donald Fehr said.
Eugene Orza, the union's No. 2 official, called the move "predictable," adding: "They can have any meeting they want, including with us."
The strike, which began Aug. 12, canceled 14 more games Tuesday and raised the total to 246. Talks broke off last Thursday, but federal mediators are to meet separately with each side on Wednesday.
"I think they just want to find out what's going on, to move the process along," Ravitch said.
John Harrington, the chief executive officer of the Boston Red Sox, and Dave Montgomery, executive vice president of the Philadelphia Phillies, will attend on behalf of the owners. No players are expected to attend.
"Hopefully, that will lead to a joint meeting later in the week," Harrington said.
The sides did reach a small agreement Tuesday: The deadline for teams to set postseason rosters was pushed back from Aug. 31 to no more than 48 hours after a settlement. Teams will be able to recall players in their minor-league systems but can't add players acquired from other organizations after Aug. 31.
Orza said the union still had the right to file grievances over players recalled from the minor leagues and put on strike.
At an appearance in Chicago, White Sox first baseman Frank Thomas said he didn't think there will be a postseason.
"Right now, to be honest, it's hard to think about staying in shape," he said. "In my mind I think it's over, I think the season is over and it's going to be a difficult situation for there not to be a World Series this year."
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