Baseball / MLB

Players to take court action over merger

The baseball players association said Thursday it plans to seek a court injunction as early as Friday against the planned merger between the Orix BlueWave and Kintetsu Buffaloes.

The association, a labor union, decided to take legal action after baseball officials turned down a series of its demands including a call for establishing a special committee to handle contractual issues for the players involved in the merger.

The association has been demanding that not only club management but players’ representatives play a part in decision-making processes of such a committee.

On Thursday, the association called anew for the Nippon Professional Baseball organization to shelve the merger plan for at least one year and reassess the advisability of the merger.

But NPB officials made no clear-cut response to the association’s requests in their working-level negotiations.

Orix and Kintetsu signed a basic agreement on their merger on Aug. 10 and plan to finalize the deal by the end of the month.

The owners of the 12 professional ballclubs gave the green light to the merger last month and are expected to give formal approval when they meet on Sept. 8.

Praise from Nagashima

ATHENS (Kyodo) Japanese national baseball team manager Shigeo Nagashima praised the players for capturing the bronze in the Athens Olympics tournament Wednesday, saying their performance during the Games had more meaning than winning the gold.

“I believe many fans rediscovered the excitement of baseball. Please come back to Japan with confidence. I see that you did a great job,” Nagashima said in fax to the team from Tokyo.

Nagashima, who is undergoing rehabilitation in Japan after suffering a stroke in March, told the players several aspects of the tournament were more important than winning the gold.

“Winning against Cuba made it possible to show the world the high level of Japanese baseball . . . and what is most significant is what you have experienced during the Olympics. That’s something not everyone can experience.

“Never forget what you have learned in Athens,” the 68-year-old Nagashima told them after they beat Canada for the bronze.

MLB players tune out

NEW YORK (AP) For most major leaguers, the Olympic baseball tournament might as well have been on the moon.

Wednesday’s gold medal game between Cuba and Australia didn’t have many of them in front of their televisions.

“I don’t think anybody’s paying attention,” said the New York Mets’ Mike Cameron. “The Americans aren’t playing — it’s no fun.”

With the coverage on MSNBC and the Yankees on the road for most of the Olympics, shortstop Derek Jeter said there was no way he could tune in to the baseball because that channel wasn’t available in the team’s hotel.

Four years ago, with a group of minor leaguers managed by Tom Lasorda, the United States won the gold medal at the Sydney Olympics. But the defending champions were denied a trip to Athens by a 2-1 loss to Mexico in a qualifier last year in Panama.