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Umps stop suit; fate is with NLRB

The umpires' union withdrew its lawsuit against baseball Tuesday, leaving the National Labor Relations Board as the last hope for 22 umps who want their jobs back.

The move came just before the American and National leagues planned to file a motion to dismiss the case. The leagues, claiming the suit was frivolous, had planned to ask for legal sanctions against the union and its lawyers.

Umpires filed the case July 26 in federal court in Philadelphia, hoping to get a restraining order blocking baseball from accepting their resignations effective Sept. 2.

But most of their claims appeared to be covered either by NLRB proceedings or the binding arbitration clause in their labor contract, and U.S. District Judge Edmund V. Ludwig denied the request for a restraining order.

After retaining outside labor lawyers, umpires filed an unfair labor practice charge last week against the AL and NL. The NLRB is not expected to rule on the case until next month.

"Now that they've all rescinded, they don't need a declaratory judgment action on that issue," union head Richie Phillips said, explaining why the suit was withdrawn.

Umpires say they may file another suit in federal court next week.

Meanwhile, a Japanese umpire who suspended himself for blowing a call had some advice for his American counterparts: Don't be so arrogant. And lose some weight.

Toshiyuki Tanaka, an umpire for 35 years, respects the pride major-league umps have in their work but believes they have overstepped their bounds in their labor dispute.

"They aren't humble. They don't realize that there are plenty of guys out there who can do their job," the 59-year-old Tanaka said.

PLAYER INJURES HEAD: Waterbury Spirit 1B Jeff Keaveney of the Northern League was in guarded condition at an Allentown, Pa., hospital after successful surgery to relieve pressure from a skull fracture sustained in a freak accident during a game. Keaveney, 23, of Fort Myers, was struck above the left ear by a piece of a bat that broke in the second inning Monday against the Allentown Ambassadors.

TWO APPEAL: Mariners RHP Frankie Rodriguez and Yankees RHP Jason Grimsley appealed their suspensions stemming from a brawl last week at Seattle.

CARDINALS: 1B Mark McGwire left as a precaution in the second inning with tightness in his lower back.

DIAMONDBACKS: RHP Todd Stottlemyre gave up two hits in six shutout innings Monday night during his second rehab start with Triple-A Tucson.

EXPOS: Negotiations are progressing well on a deal with the Canadian government that would allow the team to buy land for a downtown stadium. "For the first time since negotiations began, we are really on the same wavelength," Gord McIvor, a spokesman for the government agency Canada Lands Corp., said.

METS: OF Bobby Bonilla, on the disabled list since July 4 with an injured left knee, is scheduled to begin a minor-league rehab assignment Aug. 26.

PADRES: 2B Quilvio Veras is day-to-day with a strained quadriceps in his right leg.

PHILLIES: X-rays showed no bone spur in RHP Curt Schilling's shoulder, and the ace is on schedule to start Friday in Cincinnati.

ROCKIES: The team signed Texas Tech C Josh Bard, its third-round pick in June's amateur draft.