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Baseball Strike Date Set

Aired August 16, 2002 - 12:07   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Now we are getting reports that a strike date has been set by the Major League Players Association, and that coming from the Associated Press, but that doesn't mean that the players will be walking, as we have been saying this morning.
Josie Karp with CNN Sports is keeping tabs on the talks in New York -- hi there, Josie.

JOSIE KARP, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fred. I am standing outside of Major League Baseball Players Association Headquarters, and this morning, the executive board did hold a conference call. Many of the players were scattered throughout the country, but a number of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are in town to play the New York Mets tonight actually came here to this office building to be in on the conference call. They left at about 11:20 Eastern time.

And at that point, I spoke to Kevin Brown, a pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and he said that what everyone expected to happen happened. On Monday, it was a surprise when the union didn't set a strike date when they had a face-to-face meeting in Chicago. At that point, a lot of people, even players, thought that they were going to go ahead and set the strike date then.

But they came out and said they wanted to delay it at least a couple of days because they thought that some progress had been made in negotiations. Over the last three days, very little progress had been made, and the major sticking point continues to be this idea of a luxury tax. They have come to some terms of agreement, at least theoretically, on drug testing. They have made some progress on revenue sharing. But when it comes to the luxury tax that, is the thing that is a barrier right now between these two sides, so that is the reason that they haven't been able to make any progress, and the reason that they are taking the action today, that many people believed that they were going to take on Monday.

Again, you are talking, Fredricka, about the fact that it doesn't mean that there is definitely going to be a strike, even if a date is set. History says, though, that every time they have set a strike date, that there is a walkout. They have never set a strike date and averted the actual strike.

But there have been varying lengths of strikes, the shortest has been two days. Obviously, the longest was 232 days back in 1994, and that for the first time ever, canceled the post season, canceled the World Series.

One major difference, people involved in this negotiation said, between 1994 and now, is the negotiations had a much different tone, that they were a lot more cordial, the two sides, with each other. But you have to wonder now, with the strike date being set, how the tone of the negotiation will change, and also, Fredricka, you have to wonder tonight what it is going to be like at ballparks across America when the public gets wind of this, and they are coming out or not coming out to see their favorite team -- back to you.

WHITFIELD: Well, Josie, we say that a strike isn't inevitable just because there is a strike date, but doesn't this also mean -- this gives each side reason to further dig in their heels?

KARP: Absolutely, and that is what I talked about with the tone of this negotiation. It had been so different from years past, but the major thing that people point to with these two sides is that there is a sense of stubbornness, and that has gotten them into a lot of trouble in negotiations over the past three decades. It wasn't evident up until now, but there is a good chance that that will change because of a strike date -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Josie Karp from mid-town Manhattan, thank you very much.

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