Baseball Lays off U.S. Pitch Clinton's Mediator Can't Coax Owners, Players to Settle

Article excerpt

President Bill Clinton found out Tuesday what most baseball fans already knew: The baseball players and owners will resist compromise with all their might.

W.J. Usery, Clinton's handpicked mediator, gave both sides his suggestions for settling the six-month strike but got nowhere Tuesday. Players and owners, along with their attorneys, were summoned to the White House for a meeting after Usery reported to Clinton that owners and players had failed to meet a 3 p.m. deadline for resolving their differences.

"I can report to you that the president was exasperated by the news that there had not been any progress toward a settlement of the baseball strike," said Mike McCurry, White House spokesman. "For that reason, the president has summoned representatives of the players and the owners here to the White House for a meeting."

Clinton, Vice President Al Gore and several White House aides met with Usery for 35 minutes in the Oval Office.

Usery brought with him an outline on how to resolve the dispute, but he did not release those plans to reporters.

White House aides said there was a possibility that the players and owners would be asked to accept binding arbitration.

Both sides had received an outline earlier in the day. They did not discuss what was in the plans but clearly were displeased.

"It's not something we are going to accept," one player agent said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Earlier Tuesday, House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole discouraged anyone from turning to Congress for a solution. Clinton lacks legal power to end the strike and would need Republican support to force either the terms of a settlement or binding arbitration.

"I think that between a balanced budget, welfare reform, Medicaid reform, trying to get a budget passed, etc., that I'm not sure Congress is the right place to try to organize the national pastime," Gingrich, R-Ga., said in a news conference. "So I'd be very, very cautious."

With spring training due to start a week from Thursday, the strike appeared no closer to ending than when it began Aug. 12.

Union attorneys speculated that Clinton and Usery might try to persuade them to accept binding arbitration. …