August 30, 2002
By now you are thinking what does that day mean. August 30, 2002. As we have learned in grade school, if you don’t know your past how can you know the future. Yes, it was about 50 weeks after 9/11. But something that happened that day could coincide with the NHL CBA discussions and could lead us to a labor agreement. Let me take you back to that day shall I.
Friday, August 31, 2002- Major League Baseball Strike is ordered if deal is not struck today. I’ll let Michael O’Keefe and Bill Madden of the New York Daily News paint the picture.
Major League Baseball made history yesterday by not repeating it.
For the first time since collective bargaining began in 1969, players and owners reached an agreement without a work stoppage.
The Players Association, the most powerful union in professional sports and possibly the country, made extraordinary concessions to the owners to ensure a labor agreement hours before the union’s 3 p.m. strike deadline.
With coffee cups and papers littering the bargaining table at Major League Baseball’s Park Ave. headquarters, players and owners averted a strike that might have bankrupted several teams, tainted the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks and cost the game its standing as the national pastime.
“I think a lot of people thought they’d never live long enough to see these two parties come together with a very meaningful deal and do it without one game of work stoppage,” said Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, who said he believes owners will ratify the agreement within a week.
Selig, who flew to New York on Wednesday as negotiations heated up, hailed the deal as “historic” in its scope. A little after 1 p.m., he stood side-by-side with his longtime nemesis, union chief Donald Fehr, as they announced the deal that had been 18 months in the making.
“All streaks come to an end, and this one was overdue to come to an end,” said an exhausted but relieved Fehr, referring to the walkouts and lockouts of the past.
The players were just as happy to turn their attention from the negotiating table to the baseball diamond.
“I got up this morning assuming we weren’t going to play, so I’m just glad I had a chance to come to work,” Yankee pitcher Mike Mussina said in Toronto before his team’s game against the Blue Jays. “It would have been tragic if we weren’t here today.”
In the past, the union had opposed management efforts to institute a salary cap or inhibit spending by high-revenue clubs such as the Yankees and Mets. But this time, the players agreed to a luxury tax designed to slow spending by wealthy teams and revenue sharing to distribute millions to small-market franchises.
The players, long opposed to drug testing of any kind, also agreed to mandatory steroid screening.
“It came down to us playing baseball or having our reputations and lives ripped by the fans,” said Cardinals player rep Steve Kline.
In exchange for agreeing to increased revenue sharing and the luxury tax, the union received a guarantee that baseball won’t try to fold teams until after the 2006 season.
Owners attempted to eliminate the Montreal Expos and Minnesota Twins after last season. The new deal opens the possibility that Montreal, now owned by Major League Baseball, could move to the Washington area.
In Crawford, Tex., President Bush, a former owner of the Texas Rangers, expressed relief that a strike had been avoided. “The President is pleased that the American people and baseball fans everywhere will be able to continue to participate in our national pastime,” White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.
Two lawyers from each side bargained until 2 a.m. yesterday before the sides broke to discuss strategy. Players gave owners a proposal during a 20-minute meeting that began at 4 a.m., and owners responded with a counteroffer about 6:30 a.m. The union returned with a response at 9:15 a.m.
Closing the deal
The final meeting lasted almost three hours, until noon.
The Yankees, who will have to pay about $22 million more in revenue sharing and luxury taxes next year, will be hit hardest by the new deal. Owner George Steinbrenner had retained the services of heavyweight lawyer David Boies and has considered suing over the labor agreement, but yesterday the club issued a statement saying it was studying the deal.
The Mets, Boston Red Sox, Seattle Mariners and San Francisco Giants also will be hit hard, and may have to raise ticket prices to cover their revenue sharing increases and luxury tax.
The winners under the new deal are well-run teams in small markets. The union had argued that incompetence on the field by teams such as the Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers and Detroit Tigers had as much to do with mismanagement as it did with low revenue.
Thanks to added revenue-sharing dollars, competitive small-market teams like the Oakland A’s, Twins and Cincinnati Reds will be able to keep more young talent.
“We’re thrilled to death that this is behind us,” said Craig Counsell, the Diamondbacks player representative. “Now for us it’s baseball, and that’s the way it should be.”
So why do I bring this up now. On October 29, 2012, a little over 10 years later, the Northeast, NJ and NY in particular were ravaged by the worst hurricane to ever hit the northeast, and Donald Fehr is sitting across from a negotiating table once again with a commissioner, who no one likes. This time his opponent is Gary Bettman and thanks to secret meetings on Saturday between Bill Daly and Steve Fehr, we are looking at the owners and players meting in New York in attempts to save a hockey deal that will help New Jersey and New York heal. My bet once again is on Donald Fehr, a guy who understands what IT is.