© St. Petersburg Times, published September 6, 2002
Owners approve labor contract overwhelmingly
CHICAGO -- Baseball owners approved their new labor contract quickly and overwhelmingly, voting 29-1 Thursday to ratify the deal their negotiators struck last week to avert a strike.
The Yankees, the team that stands to lose the most, voted against the deal, which ensures labor peace until December 2006. Approval by the executive board of the union is considered certain.
"I'm not going to suggest to you today that there are not clubs with very different views, but at some point you have to come together," commissioner Bud Selig, flanked by his chief negotiators, Bob DuPuy and Rob Manfred, said after the two-hour meeting.
Still, two obstacles remain: a possible lawsuit by the Yankees and the uncertain status of the Expos, who could try to move to Washington or another city by next season. Expos president Tony Tavares said he wants to know within 10 days whether the team will stay or explore a move.
Selig had spent thousands of hours on the telephone with owners to develop a consensus for the labor agreement, and he approved the final moves made by his negotiators last week. The nearly unanimous vote was a sign of support he has among the owners.
The Yankees, who generate the most money in baseball, estimate the annual amount they give up to other clubs will increase from $28-million in 2001 to between $50-million and $55-million next year. The team's lawyers have been examining grounds for a lawsuit. Yankees president Randy Levine declined comment after the meeting.
"There's absolutely no basis for any challenge to the agreement whatsoever," said DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer.
Selig now must try to develop a consensus on what to do with the Expos. The franchise was purchased by the other 29 teams last winter for $120-million.
BONDS BASEBALLS: The two most important home run balls Barry Bonds has hit -- No. 73 of last season and No. 600 of his career -- continued their trip through court, when separate lawsuits over who owns each were allowed to proceed.
In Fairfield, 40 miles northeast of where Bonds plays for San Francisco, a judge agreed to put the 600th home run ball under lock and key. It now sits in a safe in the Solano County sheriff's department. Three men are suing their former friend and co-worker on grounds that he accepted tickets to the Aug. 9 game on the condition that -- remote as it may have sounded -- if he got the ball, he'd share its value.
The lawsuit over No. 600 shares the same sketchy details as the fight over No. 73, the season-record ball Bonds hit in October.
In both cases, the men who went home with the balls after a fight in the bleachers of Pacific Bell Park are sure the balls are theirs. Like No. 600, No. 73 is also in a safe. A San Francisco judge decided to postpone until today his decision whether to dismiss the case. Both parties will be in court to restate their case, but chances are that the case will go to trial next month.
BREWERS: Infielder Keith Ginter was acquired from Houston to complete last week's trade for infielder Mark Loretta.
D'BACKS: Right-hander Armando Reynoso was activated from the disabled list for the first time this season.
Reynoso, who had offseason neck surgery to repair a disc, was in uniform for the first time since June 10, 2001, as Arizona opened a four-game series against the Giants at Pacific Bell Park.
Reynoso won 21 games with Arizona from 1999-2000, and he opened last season as the fourth starter. But Reynoso went 1-6 with a 5.98 ERA before heading to the disabled list for the rest of the season.
His injury, thought to be a strained shoulder, was diagnosed as a neck problem. His last victory came April 17, 2001, at St. Louis.
To make room on the 40-man roster, right-hander Eric Knott was designated for assignment.
METS: The team held an extended pregame ceremony in honor of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and those who helped in the recovery effort. Among those honored were firefighters and police officers as well as community volunteers who helped in the cleanup effort of the World Trade Center site. New York Gov. George Pataki thanked the group of 14 for their efforts in helping the city and nation recover.
PHILLIES: The team purchased the contract of right-hander Jose Santiago and moved right-hander Robert Person from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL.
RANGERS: Left-hander Jovanny Cedeno, who has spent the season on the disabled list after shoulder surgery, will have diagnostic arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder today. . . . Left-hander Kenny Rogers' start was the 300th of his career.
TIGERS: The team extended its working agreements with three minor-league affiliates: West Michigan of the Midwest League for four years, Erie of the Eastern League for two years and Oneonta of the New York-Penn League for two years.
YANKEES: Closer Mariano Rivera, out because of a right shoulder strain, expects to begin a throwing program in the next couple of days. Despite his absence, the bullpen since Aug. 1 has 14 saves and a 1.82 ERA.