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Ex-union chief feels vindication

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 1, 2002

NEW YORK -- The settlement that averted a strike eliminated all remaining compensation to teams that lose free agents, the issue that caused a 50-day strike in 1981.

Marvin Miller, head of the players' association from 1966 through the 1981 strike, laughed when he heard about the change, created Friday in the tradeoffs that led to the labor agreement that averted a walkout.

"This gets down to the theater of the absurd," he said Saturday. "The whole '81 thing and their position was ridiculous to start with, and this proves it -- 1981 was about trying to break the union and to end free agency."

Under a provision in the 1976 labor agreement, teams signing free agents lost picks in the next amateur draft. The 1981 walkout was caused by management's desire to force a team that signed a free agent to give up a player to the free agent's previous club, which would have chilled the free-agent market.

The 1981 settlement created a pool of players that teams losing free agents could select from, but that was dropped four years later. After the Mets left Tom Seaver unprotected from the pool and the White Sox selected him, management didn't like the idea anymore.

"They found out pretty fast they didn't like the repercussions of the Tom Seaver thing," Miller said.

But draft-pick compensation remained. Owners dropped it from the new deal in exchange for a provision that gives extra picks to teams that fail to sign first- or second-round selections.

TRADE: The Astros acquired infielder Mark Loretta from the Brewers for cash and two players to be named. Houston also purchased the contract of left-hander Jeriome Robertson, the Pacific Coast League pitcher of the year, from Triple-A New Orleans.

BLUE JAYS: The game against the Yankees was delayed for a few seconds in the seventh after a fire alarm sounded and a security officer said over the public address system that they were "investigating an alarm situation in the hotel." An eerie silence followed. The crowd cheered when the alarm was turned off. ... Outfielder Jayson Werth was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse.

CARDINALS: Closer Jason Isringhausen has a strained right shoulder and is day to day. ... Manager Tony La Russa tied Gene Mauch for ninth all-time with 1,902 victories.

CUBS: A strained left hamstring forced rookie right-hander Mark Prior out of the first game of a doubleheader in the sixth inning. ... Rightfielder Sammy Sosa missed his seventh straight game with a sore neck and back and is not expected to play today.

D'BACKS: Right-hander Curt Schilling has walked seven in his past two starts after walking 20 in his first 28.

DODGERS: Leftfielder Brian Jordan, out with a protruding disc in his lower back, will be activated off the disabled list today.

RED SOX: A strained left hip could force ace right-hander Pedro Martinez to miss his scheduled start Tuesday at Yankee Stadium.

YANKEES: Leftfielder Shane Spencer left with a stiff left hamstring.

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