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SCORECARD
Edited by Jerry Kirshenbaum
June 07, 1993
Mary's Dad
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June 07, 1993

Scorecard

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Mary's Dad

Jim Pierce, whose daughter, Mary, is the 15th-ranked player on the women's tennis tour, was removed from the French Open last Friday for creating a disturbance in the stands. Pierce's ejection, which occurred during Mary's third-round win over Kimberly Po (Mary lost to Jennifer Capriati on Sunday) wasn't his first run-in with officials at Roland Garros. Last year he slugged two spectators and later bragged about it. And in an altercation earlier last week, he reportedly punched another spectator.

Pierce is well known on the tour for the obscenity-laced tirades he directs at Mary, her opponents, fans and officials. He curses and bullies his daughter and breaks rackets during her practices. Concern about his conduct has been heightened by revelations that in the 1960s, Pierce was confined to mental hospitals and served time at Sing Sing for attempted robbery and at a prison in North Carolina for forgery and for escaping from a work-release program.

Last November the Women's Tennis Association passed what is known as the Jim Pierce Rule, which provides for the fining or banishment of any member of a player's entourage guilty of unruly behavior. The rule was invoked in expelling Pierce from the French. Adolescent victims of abusive parents aren't always emotionally able to ask for help, but news services said that officials acted after Mary had complained that her father's outbursts were bothering her. That may be a sign that Mary, who turned 18 in January, is trying to distance herself from her father. Others on the tour would like to do the same.

Backdoor Play

As has been widely reported, baseball's new joint venture with NBC and ABC, which was overwhelmingly approved by the owners last week, provides for regional television coverage of postseason games and, although its architects deny any such intention, paves the way for the eventual adoption of pay-per-view. What has been less widely noted is that the venture is also a first step toward narrowing the gap between the game's rich and poor teams. That's because under the new arrangement as many as 12 of each team's regular-season games will be pulled from local TV, the source of the greatest financial inequities among franchises, in deference to the national TV package, from which revenues are shared equally.

The prospect that they'll lose revenues from their lucrative local TV deals explains why two big-market teams, the New York Mets and the Boston Red Sox, voted against the joint venture. Met general manager Al Harazin referred to it as "revenue sharing in a backdoor form."

But shoring up the poorer teams would help restore stability to the game by, among other things, making the idea of a salary' cap more palatable to the Major League Players Association. As long as some clubs are in the poorhouse, it will be impossible to set a salary cap high enough to satisfy the union. Agreement on a cap could help control runaway salaries and bring about a true partnership between the owners and the union.

In the short run, though, reduced income from the joint venture—the owners' national TV revenues figure to decline next season to half of the $14 million each team receives from the current deal with CBS—may exacerbate relations with the union. SI baseball writer Tim Kurkjian says: "The owners will try to cut salaries. If the next batch of free agents don't get rich offers, the union will be angry. That could make for one long, ugly negotiation for a collective bargaining agreement for next season. If there is a next season."

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