Talks of an unproductive sort were resumed today between representatives of the baseball owners and players and everyone agreed that nothing was accomplished.
Talks of another sort took place earlier in the day between Commissioner Bowie Kuhn and three American League owners: Edward Bennett Williams of the Orioles, George Steinbrenner of the Yankees, and Eddie Chiles of the Texas Rangers. It was unclear what those discussions accomplished.
Kuhn called the meeting with the owners useful. He said those calling for a more active role by the commissioner did "not understand the internal dynamics. But the emphasis should be on the two bargaining teams. That is where the solution should be found."
Others characterized the meeting as a long (two-hour), tough session, in which the owners forcefully expressed their opinions about the 5-day-old strike.
Strike year, a group of owners, including Williams and Steinbrenner, was instrumental in averting the strike now in progress that has forced the cancellation of 63 games.
Kuhn, who became the focal point of the hearing on the unfair labor practice case against the owners two weeks ago, could become a focal point in efforts to end the strike.
Kuhn's current seven-year term as commissioner ends in August 1983. But, his status will be reviewed during a 15-month period beginning next May, during which the owners must tell him whether he is going to be reelected. In order to be reelected, Kuhn must receive three-quarters of the votes from the owners in each league. Five negative votes in the American League or four negative votes in the National League could deprive him a third term.
One source familiar with the situation, who did not attend the meeting with Kuhn, said, "What you are dealing with is a group that disapproves (of the strike) that is not a majority. It seems to have enough votes, if they can hang together, to thwart the commissioner in the spring."
But the source was skeptical about the immediate impact that the group's action would have on the strike because it is a minority.
One management official called the meeting "a grandstand play, a public spectacle."
After the meeting, the three owners lunched together at the 21 Club. Then, Steinbrenner returned to Florida, Chiles to Texas and Williams, who reportedly also met Monday night with Kuhn, to Washington. Chiles and Steinbrenner could not be reached for comment. Reached in Washington last night, Williams declined to comment.
Ray Grebey, the owners' chief negotiator, said the meeting with Kuhn "had absolutely nothing to do with today's (negotiating) session."
Asked if he anticipated any way that owners could participate in the negotiations, Grebey said, "That's a decision for the owners to make and they've made that decision. . . I see no possibility of that at this time."
Bob Boone, the National League representative on the players' bargaining committed, said, "We certainly would like any parties on the other side to come forward with alternatives if that's what it was. . . I don't know what the inner working of their group really involves. Maybe they were plotting ways to really get at us.
"We're not making an attempt to . . . think, 'Well, if we can get some owners here then the problem is solved.' We recognize this has to be a negotiated settlement. They might get tougher (if the owners were present), I don't know. What we do want is to make sure everyone is hearing what we're saying."
Today on one said anything much of consequence. Federal mediator Kenneth E. Moffett said talks would be resumed Wednesday at 2 p.m. and would continue into the evening if necessary. Asked what reason there might be for continuing, Moffett said, "Because tomorrow probably we're going to talk about the issue."
Moffett, who characterized the mood at last Friday's session as "lousy," said the atmosphere had improved "just a tad."
Asked whose idea it was to spend the two-hour session reviewing the situation, Don Fehr, the general counsel of the players' association, said, "It didn't come from us."
There was some conjecture that the owners' representatives were trying to educate the players -- Boone of the Phillies, Mark Belanger of the Orioles, Rusty Staub of the Mets, Steve Rogers of the Expos, Tom Seaver of the Reds -- with whom they are now negotiating.
Marvin Miller, the executive director of the players' association, has removed himself from the negotiations in order to demonstrate that "he does not dictate to the players," Boone said.
In order to maintain some continuity in the negotiations, Boone said one of four players -- himself, Belanger, Rogers or Doug DeCinces -- who could not attend today because of an injury -- would be present at all bargaining sessions.
Asked if he thought the owners' representatives were prepared to negotiate with the players committee or whether they were waiting for Miller to return, Fehr said, "If they are sitting waiting for Marvin, it's going to be a long wait. Sooner or later they're going to have to accept it."