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August 30, 2002

Donald Fehr

Tom Glavine

Allan H. "Bud" Selig

B.J. Surhoff


COMMISSIONER SELIG: We are gratified and very, very happy to report that Major League Baseball's 30 clubs and the Major League Baseball Players Association have today reached an historic agreement that all games will be played as scheduled.
The thing that makes me the happiest is that we can now once again turn our attention to the field. As this represents for the first time in baseball history, we have reached a Collective Bargaining Agreement without the loss of a single game. We also believe the disagreement, significant contributions to restoring competitive balance.
I'm not going to go into the specifics of the proposed agreement at this time, go through a formal ratification process of the Clubs within a week. I will tell that you it has all of the component parts that we've discussed; that there's been a great deal of give-and-take, more than any other agreement. Both sides have put in very, very hard work, accommodating each other, and I believe, made an agreement that in the end will do the things that we have talked about.
Clearly, this in my judgment is in the best interests of the game for a myriad of reasons, but as I said earlier, and I'm sure Don will agree with me, we can now turn your attention back where it belongs.
I'm fond of quoting, the journey about a long and winding road. This has been a long, very difficult and winding road. At least today, we were able to do what hasn't been done before. That spirit, and all of the energies that have gone to this will be channeled in the right directions, and the that baseball, the greatest game in the world, and all its fans, will be the beneficiary of this.
Thank you.
DON FEHR: I have had the privilege to represent Major League players, first as their general counsel, and then as their executive director. During most of that period we have been traveling down many long and winding and difficult roads, and collective bargaining is often a very difficult process.
But I want to echo that in one very particular regard, it's been a very long time since a Collective Bargaining Agreement in baseball has been negotiated without a work stoppage. And what we can now hope for is that it will be a very long time for a Collective Bargaining Agreement is negotiated after a work stoppage.
All streaks come to an end, and this is one that was overdue to come to an end.
Any agreement of this type, Collective Bargaining Agreement, requires substantial accommodations by everyone. We have done so. This agreement does so.
Maybe this one gives us a chance -- to gain some stability that it hasn't had, and return the focus where it belongs. Because with all due respect to all of you, I suspect that most of the people out there would rather be watching pictures of them, rather than watching pictures of Bud or watching pictures of me, and hopefully after today, that's what you'll be doing.
I want to thank the members of our negotiating committee, Steve Fehr, the rest of the Players Association staff for their hard work, members of the Clubs' negotiating committee: Peter Angelos, Andy McPhail, Rob Manfred, Bob DuPuy, and, of course, the Commissioner, and there are a lot of other people involved that are not sitting up here.
It's fair to say that this could not have been accomplished without a lot of effort by everyone. It just doesn't happen any other way, and we are all very happy to be here.
COMMISSIONER SELIG: I also want to thank Don and Steve and Gene (Orza) and everybody involved, Tommy and all of our people, Bob and Rob, and my friends, Mr. McPhail and Mr. Angelos. They asked me many times, what have they done wrong to deserve what they just had to go through. But they worked so tirelessly, a very difficult process; their hearts were in the right place, and all of you have my undying gratitude and the undying gratitude of a lot of people for bringing us to a happy conclusion.
Thank you.

Q. Inaudible?
COMMISSIONER SELIG: Well, look, this is somebody who reads too much and watches too much, I understand all that reaction, as many of you in this room know. Of course, all of us who are very, very sensitive to fan reaction. Both of us had jobs to do, problems to deal with, things to do and we've now done them, and then without a work stoppage. And so hopefully we can move on, and as I say, return the focus back to the field.

Q. Inaudible?
COMMISSIONER SELIG: A lot of difficult issues. Issues , not only complex, but we were on a lot of ground that had not been plowed before, and I think in the end -- today, at least for me, and I'm sure Don feels the same way, that's all that's important.
DON FEHR: There is a tendency, I know some of you have heard me say this before, to analogize sports to the games on the field. It's easy, it's quick and we get questions like, "Who won today," or "Who's ahead today," or something like that. The difficulty with answering those questions, of course, is that it doesn't mean anything in the context of collective bargaining. The game is only over when the contract is reached, and then you both win when the contract is reached.
And so, as we look at it, there were of issues, lots of accommodations in most respects, the initial proposals of the parties don't resemble very much the eventual agreements that were reached, and you have to stay at it until you get it done. There's simply no other way to describe it.

Q. Inaudible?
COMMISSIONER SELIG: No. 1, that was not the purpose of the deal. I think, you know, we've made clear all along that the issue here was competitive balance and this deal clearly deals with that.
DON FEHR: Something we are very sensitive to, as I think all of you know, and we believe that this is an agreement that we can live with. Otherwise, we would not have made it.

Q. Inaudible?
COMMISSIONER SELIG: I'm going to let history determine that. The deal, after both sides have had a chance to study and ratify it, that will be the time for discussion of those kind of subjects, but I think that it is a deal that addresses the concerns that I've raised and others have raised over the years.

Q. Talk about the major issues.
COMMISSIONER SELIG: Well, frankly, today, I really would rather not. The clubs need to ratify this. The players certainly need to ratify it. It's a deal that has dealt with all of the issues that we've all talked about, but I think there will be a day later that we can discuss those matters.

Q. Inaudible?
COMMISSIONER SELIG: Well, No. 1, how would you judge that? No. 2, while this was clearly controversial and had a lot of tension that I wish would not happen, because I believe the best days of my commissionership, and I'm sure Don said that and feels the same way, is when the focus is on the field. That's just what we can do now. We need to get the focus back on the field, and this deal will do that.
DON FEHR: Let me just add -- the process of bargaining something which damages the game, because you have stories about the difficulty of bargaining. Whether or not that is true, the fact of a settlement ought to repair, and not only repair, but enhance the game, and that's maybe perhaps the biggest benefit of all of this.
COMMISSIONER SELIG: Obviously, I can't speak for Don. I'm a Yogi Berra theorist. When it was over, then I knew it was going to get done. Both sides showed a lot of tenacity and kept at it, like a long journey on a long, winding road, and it had its up and downs, but all that matters in the end is how you finish.
DON FEHR: I've tried to make this point before, and I know that Rob has, and that is that there's a suggestion that there's a final hurdle. Obviously, it's something that you have to have the last conversation about, but, in fact, it doesn't work that way. You have lots of different pieces, I'm not going to get into the specifics, and if you move a piece over here, it affects a different piece over there. There are no single issues final hurdles ordinarily, and I didn't think there was one here.
TOMMY: I think it goes without saying that we are all excited and happy that we got this done with, and we don't have to go through the uncertainties of another work stoppage and what it does to the game and how it affects the fans of the game.
I think we are all relieved that it's behind us. We are happy about the deal that we've been able to make, and like everybody has said, we are looking forward to getting back out on the field and having the attention be what we do on the field and not everything that's going on the field.
On top of that, something people don't really realize, players are fans, too. We wanted to get this thing done. We wanted to try and work out a resolution and we stayed at it hard and they stayed at it hard and ultimately, we got the deal done and now we are going to move forward and put the focus back on September and hopefully have a great post-season again.
BJ SURHOFF: All of the players have always been involved. In my career, negotiations that I've been involved in, player interest is I think a lot higher than people think it is. You know, guys are concerned about what's going on and we have an input on what's going on. And, you know, maybe this time around -- because I think at times, nobody was quite sure exactly what everybody was trying to achieve sometimes, but it got complicated at times. I think for the most part, the interest level was the same as it generally. I mean, it's our future and we are interested in what happens to it.

Q. Inaudible?
TOM GLAVINE: Probably, I don't know to what degree, I don't know. But something I learned as a player, going through this before you is try to keep your emotions out of it and you just try to keep plugging along. You know there's going to be moments where you think, okay, things are going good and you hope to capitalize on it, and the next thing you know, things kind of take a turn in a different direction.
So, you try and remove your emotions from it as much as you can, but I just -- I don't know -- I don't know what it was. I just felt like both sides had enough common ground and we could talk about it and too much to lose to not get a deal done, and ultimately, that's the way it worked out.

Q. Inaudible?
TOM GLAVINE: The advice of all of the people who were doing a deal for us. I mean, these things are analyzed and scrutinized and looked at every which way, which you know, I think ultimately, there was -- we all thought we could go and live with it. But that's where we ultimately got to. You know, it's something that we feel comfortable with.

Q. How long is the agreement?
COMMISSIONER SELIG: This is a four-year deal.

Q. Inaudible?
COMMISSIONER SELIG: I said this is an historic deal for a number of -- a number of reasons. It is, and both sides feel, comfortable with what's done here, and I certainly do, and there's no sense sitting here and projecting what it will or won't do.
Obviously, there's been enormous amount of thought that went into this deal an enormous amount of work, and so, when we agreed to the deal late this morning, it culminated, not months, but years of work on both sides, and I'm very comfortable with that.
To be frank with you, I lost track of time about two o'clock yesterday afternoon. I'm not exactly sure what time it is right now.

Q. Inaudible?
COMMISSIONER SELIG: The important thing is not about winning or losing. I think there were a lot of people who never believed they have lived long enough to see these two parties come together, make a very meaningful deal, and do it without one game of work stoppage.
I've been the longest survivor in the game now since 1970, and when I think back to all of the heartache, this was a day that many people never believed would happen, and it did, and so for a lot of reasons, I'm very grateful today, very grateful.
There were a lot of moments when there was a lot of justification for it, which I think the reason I feel as good as I do right now, is that I'm proud of the fact that these parties could come together, in the end do, what was in the best interests of the game, and so I am grateful.
I thank all of you. The players have to leave and I appreciate your coming.

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