First, Ueberroth played in a media Softball game the day before the meetings began, and he sucked on a couple of beers between innings, just like everybody else. A few days later he visited the Baseball Writers Association meeting, showing that he knows the value of good p.r.
In his State of the Game speech, Ueberroth said he was baffled by the way baseball has only "reacted to problems," adding that "We seem to be a defensive unit." He said he had already met on the q.t. with Marvin Miller and with Don Fehr, a successor to Miller as head of the players' union, and that, contrary to the belief of many owners, he did not feel they were "villains." That was enough to make some of them gag. Kuhn, of course, was squarely on the owners' side in recent negotiations.
Ueberroth later flew to Las Vegas, where he met with the leaders of the Players Association. "The players," he said, "are what make the game exciting. They're baseball."
Bowie, of course, wouldn't have dreamed of such a meeting with the players, but one agent who works closely with the association wasn't sold on Ueberroth. Not yet, anyway. "His technique is terrific," he said, "but we still don't know about the substance." Presumably, the players will decide on Ueberroth's "substance" during their negotiations with the owners this week.
The first thing Peter Bavasi did when he took over as president of the Indians two weeks ago was to give everyone in the front office a 10% raise. Then he resigned free agent Andre Thornton, 35, who had been expected to sign with Baltimore or Minnesota.
"[Signing Thornton] is credibility, it's important for all the things we want to do," said Bavasi, the successor to Gabe Paul. "This is an abused franchise [no pennant in 30 years], and you can't restore it to the glory it used to have when the first thing you don't do is sign Thornton. We wanted to send a very strong signal to the young players in the organization that if they did well they would be rewarded. We want them to say, 'Hey, these guys mean business.' " And he wants the rest of us to stop cracking wise with "...and second prize is two weeks in Cleveland."
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