Baseball owners recently approached the players association about expansion, but union chief Donald Fehr said there was a troublesome provision to the conversation.
"They said they would like us to consider expansion and work out the details without them committing to it," Fehr said Tuesday night. "We told them if they want to commit to it, "Great, tell us about it.' We haven't heard back."
The expansion committee has taken much the same approach with 23 groups representing nine prospective cities, including Tampa Bay, asking them to fill out a detailed application without any promise that new teams will be awarded.
Pittsburgh has put on a grand show for the All-Star Game, but it has been done against a threatening backdrop _ the possibility of losing the Pirates because of financial reasons.
Interim commissioner Bud Selig said Tuesday it was ironic to be in Pittsburgh given the severity of the problems facing the game and the importance of the current labor negotiations.
"This is a city that has had baseball all these years and now it's fighting for its very life, and shortly, not in a few years," Selig said. "Pittsburgh is a microcosm of the problem. We have to address this problem and we have to understand the severity of this problem."
Labor negotiations are expected to resume this week with the players presenting a counterproposal to the owners' request for a salary cap.
The Big O
Former Florida Marlin and current St. Petersburg resident Orestes Destrade was on the scene doing pregame and post-game interviews for TV Tokyo. Destrade, released by the Marlins in late-May, said he has had a few calls from other teams.
When the Milwaukee Brewers traded Gary Sheffield in March 1992, they were widely criticized for receiving three unknowns _ outfielder Matt Mieske, infielder Jose Valentin and pitcher Ricky Bones. Now, Mieske is hitting .284, Valentin is hitting .255 and Bones has a 7-7 record and 3.84 ERA, seventh best in the league. Even better for the Brewers, Bones is here at the All-Star game while Sheffield, bothered part of the year by injuries, is sitting home. "It's a matter of time and luck and opportunity," Bones said, "and I guess this is my time."
Pirates coach Rich Donnelly had the honor, if you call it that, of pitching in the home-run hitting contest Monday and had the best view of the destruction wrought by Ken Griffey Jr. and Frank Thomas. "Those guys are incredible," Donnelly said. "There may be one upper-deck home run in batting practice a year here. I was totally in awe. If I had to pitch to them for a living, my kids would not eat."
Much of the All-Star activity around Pittsburgh has included tributes to former Pirates great Roberto Clemente, and that couldn't make Ruben Sierra happier. The Oakland outfielder grew up in Puerto Rico and is the first product of the Roberto Clemente Sports City to reach the majors. "It's exciting for me to be here where Roberto played," Sierra said. "It makes me want to play well for him."
The Wizard returns
Last year, St. Louis' Ozzie Smith didn't make the NL All-Star team. This year he was named the starting shortstop and was the leading vote-getter among all NL players. "It's kind of unusual," Smith said. "If you go 10 or 12 years and then lose out, it's very tough to get back. It's very strange not only to get back but to get the most votes. It's kinda strange, but there's lots of strange things in baseball these days."
Well, hello there
One interesting scene here was a meeting between Frank Thomas, the White Sox star, and Frank Thomas, the former Pirates star. The two exchanged greetings Monday in the AL clubhouse. "He said he's got about 30 of my baseball cards at home," Chicago's Thomas said. "I guess the mail got mixed up."
On the move
Pirates manager Jim Leyland was philosophical about moving out of his office and into a coach's locker for the All-Star game. "I lost my office," Leyland said, "but I got a lot better team."
Three of the players in Tuesday's game had All-Star fathers _ Montreal's Moises Alou (son of Felipe), San Francisco's Barry Bonds (Bobby) and Seattle's Ken Griffey Jr. (Ken Sr.).
Six players on Tuesday became All-Stars in both leagues. Texas' Will Clark previously was an All-Star with San Francisco, Kansas City's David Cone with the Mets, California's Chili Davis with San Francisco, New York Yankee Paul O'Neill with Cincinnati, Baltimore's Lee Smith with Chicago and St. Louis; and New York Met Bret Saberhagen with Kansas City. There have been 54 players who have been on All-Star rosters for both leagues.
Philadelphia's Doug Jones spent much of the past two days taping the goings-on with a video camera. "Just a home movie," he said.
The concession menu for Tuesday's game included 12,000 hot dogs and sausages, 9,000 orders of nachos, 3,000 pan pizzas, 8,500 pretzels, 30,000 cups of soda and 6,000 bags of peanuts.
Tuesday's game was the first production of The Baseball Network. The first regular-season broadcast will be Saturday night on ABC. Toronto's Joe Carter was given the Danny Thompson Award from the Baseball Chapel for exemplary Christian spirit. Pirates Hall of Famer Willie Stargell threw out the first pitch. Next year's All-Star Game will be at The Ballpark in Arlington, Texas, and the 1996 game is set for Philadelphia.
_ MARC TOPKIN