07/19/2002 8:39 pm ET
Selig urges owners to refrain from comment
By Barry Bloom / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig has sent out a directive to the 30 owners telling them to again refrain from publicly commenting on the ongoing labor situation.
The directive comes as collective bargaining is moving into its crucial stage with the players considering setting a strike date in August or September and the owners saying they will not operate under the same economic system after this season.
Since just before the All-Star break, Selig has allowed some owners to speak out in a departure from his previously stated position, that they would risk a $1 million fine if any of them spoke publicly about labor.
"I appreciate all the helpful and supportive comments that have been made by owners and club officials in recent weeks," Selig said in the memo. "The comments were indicative of the complete unity of the clubs on the labor front.
"Notwithstanding this fact, I have decided to reinstitute the ban on public comments on labor and economic issues in its original format. We are entering a critical period of the labor negotiations and I feel that further comment at this point would not be productive."
The new order follows several weeks in which owners such as Cleveland's Larry Dolan, the Yankees' George Steinbrenner, Houston's Drayton McLane, Boston's John Henry and Larry Lucchino and San Diego's John Moores all weighed in on the process.
Some of the comments came just before a meeting of the players association in Chicago on July 8. At that meeting, there was concern among the Major League Baseball hierarchy that the players would set a strike date. They didn't, but instead sought a consensus on setting a date from each team. That process is ongoing with Don Fehr, the union's executive director,
traveling around the country to meet with each club.
He has currently met with 16 of the 30 teams and some of the players have publicly stated that the union's executive board has the authority to set a strike date if collective bargaining does not progress significantly by the middle of August.
Barry M. Bloom is a regular contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or any of its clubs.Major League Baseball or any of its clubs.