On Monday, Rusty Staub, the player representative of the New York Mets, got fed up and walked out of negotiations between representatives of baseball owners and players. Yesterday, Staub brought crossword puzzles to the negotiations and passed them out to the owners' representatives. "If you want to play word games," he said, "let's do it right."
After another day of nonprogress in the nonstrike talks in New York, Marvin Miller, the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, announced yesterday he would not participate in the negotiations if there is a strike.Miller said he recommended the move to the union's executive committee because of "a false perception among the owners (that) the players are nincompoops, that if I call the tune, everyone will dance. The underlying assumption is that I am the roadblock. . . If they (the owners) think they can sell them the Brooklyn Bridge, they can try."
Ray Grebey, the owners' chief negotiator, said, "Three times Mr. Miller has said he wouldn't be available to bargain. Each time he reappeared. Whoever the (players) association selects we'll deal with."
There was little dealing yesterday. During the talks, which lasted about 15 minutes, according to Don Fehr, the general counsel for the players association, the players asked Grebey if the owners are waiting for the ruling by U.S. District Judge Henry F. Werker. Werker is considering a request by the National Labor Relations Board for an injunction that would prevent the owners from implementing free-agent compensation this year. Grebey admitted it was "a consideration."
There has been speculation that the delay in issuing the decision is a) a good omen for the palyers b) an indication Werker wants to write the best possible decision in a case that is receiving tremendous public scrutiny c) an indication he wants to give the parties time to find a settlement.
If so, said Miller, "I hope he reads the papers.They (the owners) won't say good morning until he rules."
More talks tentatively are scheduled for today.