Paychecks handed out on schedule by Detroit Tigers

Posted: Tuesday, July 16, 2002

DETROIT -- The Detroit Tigers are always happy to see Bill Brown on the 15th of the month because it's payday and he delivers their checks.

But the Tigers were more excited than usual Monday when the club's traveling secretary arrived with their paychecks, after recent reports indicated the team was having financial problems.

Brown began passing out checks in the clubhouse about two hours before the Tigers started a two-game series with Boston. His arrival was met with some cheers, and a few players even shouted: ''Hey, Brownie is here!''

Following the All-Star break, commissioner Bud Selig claimed a team may not be able to make payroll this week and there was a lot of speculation that the team in question could be the Tigers.

Selig did not identify the team, but a top official of a major league team, speaking on condition of anonymity told The Associated Press that Detroit and Tampa Bay Devil Rays had cash-flow problems earlier this year. Both teams denied any financial difficulties.

One team, which the official didn't identify, secured additional credit from its bank after baseball provided a letter stating that a payment from the central fund would be made to the team in July, the official said.

Baseball teams can borrow up to $72 million each through a line of credit backed by the sport's central fund, which collects money from national broadcasting and licensing contracts.

Tigers president Dave Dombrowski has refused to say if baseball had provided any specific assurances to the team's bank, saying, ''We don't get into our personal finances at all.''

Selig, trying to gain concessions from the players' association, has spent more than 1 1/2 years saying that baseball has widespread financial difficulties.

Bargaining for a new labor contract, recessed since June 27, resumed last Friday in New York and another session is expected on Thursday.

The sides are far apart on increased revenue sharing among teams, the owners' proposal for a luxury tax to slow payroll growth, random testing for steroids and other drugs, extending the amateur draft worldwide, and management's attempt to change salary arbitration rules and eligibility.

Players fear owners might try to unilaterally change work rules this fall. While the union hasn't set a strike date, the players are expected to call for a walkout in August or September if there is no progress in talks. It would be baseball's ninth work stoppage and first since 1994-95.

The Tigers also voted unanimously to give Damion Easley, the team's union representative, authority to vote on their behalf if the union executive board votes to set a strike date or call a work stoppage.

''I think we all know that this potentially can be very damaging,'' Easley said. ''That's no secret. But everybody in this room has benefited, I hate to say, from past work stoppages. You can go on as deep in the past as you want to go, we've benefited from other guys' sacrificing. I can't believe it was any less damaging then than it is now. What makes No. 1 any less damaging than No. 9?

''It seems like we have to come to that point every single time. We have to throw out a deadline and things all of a sudden have a tendency to get moving. Why that is, you're asking the wrong person.''

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