NEW YORK, JULY 5 -- New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner came away from today with one loss, two continuations and no victories. But you needed more than a scorecard to keep track of the proceedings. You needed a flow chart.
He and his attorneys met with Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent and his attorneys. In discussions that will continue Friday, they spent about 7 1/2 hours going over Steinbrenner's relationships with former Yankees outfielder Dave Winfield and gambler Howard Spira. The hearing took place in the office of former federal judge Harold R. Tyler Jr., an attorney retained by Vincent.
During that time:
Vincent ruled Steinbrenner had tampered with Winfield after the Yankees traded him to the Angels for Mike Witt. Vincent ordered the Yankees to pay the Angels $200,000 and fined them $25,000.
In federal court, Spira pleaded not guilty to charges of extortion and threatening Steinbrenner and Winfield, then the case bogged down when the judge said he was acquainted with Steinbrenner and friends with one of Steinbrenner's attorneys.
Spira, his day in court complete and free on a $50,000 bond, suddenly appeared in the media-filled lobby of the building where Steinbrenner and Vincent were meeting.
Quickly surrounded, Spira explained he was passing through on unrelated business.
"It's a coincidence," he said. "I asked a security guard. There was no other way to get through. . . . I have nothing to say."
A security guard on the scene confirmed Spira had walked into the area, rather than emerging from one of a bank of elevators that serves the floor on which the Steinbrenner hearing was being held. Later Vincent said Steinbrenner was the only witness today. He said he did not know whether Steinbrenner's attorneys would call others Friday. Steinbrenner, who turned 60 Wednesday, was not available for comment.
Vincent called the session "very cordial. It was gentlemen at work. . . . It was a very civilized proceeding and I was satisfied with it."
He said he had done most of the questioning, and when asked why the hearing was taking so long he joked: "I guess I was long-winded."
Turning serious, he said: "These are matters which require some elaboration, and I think we tried to be as efficient we could. I regret we didn't finish, but I'm not apologetic."
As for whether the hearing would continue into Monday, Vincent said: "I would hope not, but I don't know whether we will complete our work tomorrow."
He also declined to say when he might decide the case, although it seems unlikely he will do so until after the all-star break.
He said his decision on the tampering complaint had "nothing" to do with today's hearing. A hearing on the tampering complaint, which was filed by the Angels, took place last month.
The complaint involved what Steinbrenner told Winfield at a meeting May 14, three days after the Yankees traded Winfield.
At the time, Winfield was in limbo. He had refused to report to the Angels, citing the so-called "five and 10 rule" -- the provision of baseball's collective bargaining agreement that allows a player with at least 10 years' service, including at least five with his current team, to refuse any trade.
The Yankees were contending Winfield had forfeited that right because his contract called for him to list a group of teams annually to which he would accept a trade, and the Angels were among those teams. The dispute was scheduled to be decided by an arbitrator.
Meanwhile, the Angels were negotiating with Winfield in the hope of getting him to report. He finally signed a three-year, $9 million contract extension with the Angels, but not until after his meeting with Steinbrenner.
Winfield, who had been relegated to platoon status by then-Yankees manager Bucky Dent, was told by Steinbrenner he was welcome to return to the Yankees if his veto of the trade was upheld and that he should be playing everyday rather than part time.
Vincent determined Steinbrenner had compromised the Angels' bargaining position. In a statement released by his office, Vincent said:
" . . . Mr. Steinbrenner's statement that Mr. Winfield would be welcomed back to the Yankees if he won the arbitration and should play on a full-time basis was clearly improper. . . . It follows, therefore, that Mr. Steinbrenner's improper statements harmed the Angels' bargaining position."
Although the Angels had been seeking $2 million in damages, General Manager Mike Port said: "We applaud the commissioner for his handling of the matter."
The Spira case took its strange turn when U.S. District Judge John E. Sprizzo, assigned the case by random draw, said the parties might want to ask for another judge.
He said he had met Steinbrenner and was a guest several times in the owner's box at Yankee Stadium. He also said he is friendly with Stephen B. Kaufman, one of Steinbrenner's attorneys.
Spira's attorney, David S. Greenfield, and assistant U.S. attorney Gregory W. Kehoe said they had no objections to Sprizzo handling the case. But Sprizzo, concerned about the appearance of a conflict of interest, said he wanted to think about it. The parties will return to court July 23.