Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth said today he thinks "there's a fairly good chance" there will be a strike this season and also indicated Washington, D.C., was among several cities "that look very good" when baseball decides to expand.
Ueberroth was interviewed on the NBC television program "Meet The Press" in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, the site of Tuesday night's All-Star Game.
"A strike is a failure," Ueberroth said. "They (the players union) are going to set a date tomorrow (Monday in Chicago) which is being called a strike date. It's not a strike date; it's a failure date. It means both sides have failed to come together. It's not a victory for anybody. The fans lose, the players lose, the owners lose -- everybody loses."
Asked whether he had heard Aug. 15 was the most likely strike deadline, Ueberroth replied: "I think Aug. 15 is a good guess, but it's a pure guess. It could be Aug. 1; it could be Sept. 1. As far as I'm concerned, the sooner the better. Let's get it over with. Let's get the strike behind us."
He reiterated his stand that he would not become directly involved in the negotiation process now because "the laws are pretty strict."
"I don't take the owners' position; I don't take the players' position . . . But I think both sides at the table are beginning to get serious about, 'Let's not have an industry that's going to be going down the tubes,' having terrible problems that they can't recover from," he said.
Several players expressed hope that Ueberroth could help prevent a strike.
"I don't know why he doesn't just tell the owners to sit down with us and settle it in one day -- they can order room service," said Oakland's Steve McCatty. "I'm sure Donald Fehr (director of the Major League Players Association), would be glad to sit down with them."
Atlanta's Bruce Benedict also called for strong action from the commissioner. "This is his first time in a situation like this and I'm sure he'd like to see it settled," Benedict said. "It depends on how much authority he'd use. He has said he'd do whatever it took to make this a better game."
Ueberroth also said Washington, Denver, Vancouver, Indianapolis, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Phoenix and New Jersey "are amongst the cities that look very good" for expansion teams.
"Most all of them have the fan base," he said. "They have, sometimes, politicians that are talking. But I have to see the nuts and bolts, the dollars and cents of political support -- that's the other criteria. And the last criteria is ownership, local ownership with roots in the community, that believe in the community, that can rally the community."