George Steinbrenner, the owner of the New York Yankees, said today he plans to see American League President Lee MacPhail as soon as possible to discuss ideas for settling the 24-day old baseball strike. "They are ideas that I've discussed with some owners," Steinbrenner said, "and I want to present them to Lee in hopes that he will carry them to the Player Relations Committee."
Steinbrenner declined to outline the ideas he said might help break the stalemate. But he did say he feels the chief issues in the strike can be brought to a head very quickly. The Player Relations Committee negotiates for the owners.
Asked about the possibility of an owners' meeting, Steinbrenner said, "I know of none that is on the agenda at this time. But that could change from day to day."
There is a sense that restlessness among some owners is growing, that barring some significant progress in the immediate future, there will be an owners' meeting, possibly as early as Monday or Tuesday. There is a growing feeling in some quarters that the owners no longer can afford to wait another week or so to take action.
Steinbrenner, along with Edward Bennett Williams, owner of the Baltimore Orioles, and Eddie Chiles, owner of the Texas Rangers, met with Commissioner Bowie Kuhn three weeks ago to discuss ways to hasten the end of the strike, but struck out.
Since then the strike has claimed one baseball tradition, the Fourth of July weekend games, and another, the All-Star Game, is the next likely victim.
Steinbrenner said today on the CBS news program "Face the Nation", "If it doesn't end soon, there won't be an All-Star Game."
Rusty Staub, the player representative of the New York Mets, who appeared on the program with Steinbrenner, was equally glum. "I wish I could be optimistic, but we're on different plants," he said.
Negotiations between the two sides broke off Saturday with no further talks scheduled. Hearings are to begin here Monday before a National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge on an unfair labor practice complaint against the owners.
While that undoubtedly was an accurate reflection of the mood yesterday, no one is thinking that far ahead.
Peter O'Malley, a member of baseball's executive council, said, "If it (the All-Star Game) is going to be pulled down, it's got to be pulled down this Monday or Tuesday, in fairness to the Cleveland people."
O'Malley said it is likely that the executive council will address the subject early this week, but that the final decision would be made by Kuhn and the two league presidents.
Gabe Paul, general manager of the Cleveland Indians, this year's All-Star Game host, said he thought the decision could be made as late as Wednesday or Thursday of this week. "We're going full steam ahead (with preparations)," he said. "We have to in case of a settlement."
Paul estimated that the city wold lose about $6.5 million in hotel, restaurant and ancillary costs if the game is canceled. He said there was a "strong possibility" that the game would be rescheduled for July 30. "It's being discussed," he said. "We haven't been officially notified (by the commissioner) yet."
There is only one game scheduled for July 30, an afternoon contest between the Montreal Expos and the San Francisco Giants.
As Steinbrenner noted on "Face the Nation," the negotiations now are characterized by a "great deal of animosity and hate" that is dimming the prospects for a settlement. Saturday, the players rejected a new management proposal, which placed a maximum of 12 on the number of free agents that would require compensation in the form of a professional player, those in the top 25 percent of performance statistics. But the proposal included a carry-over provision that meant that if there were only three ranking free agents one year, there would be 21 the next.