Major League baseball players today opted not to set a date for a strike, holding out hope that they can negotiate an agreement with team owners.
On the anniversary of the last baseball strike, player representatives met in Chicago in what many believed would be the a decision to set a date for the ninth work stoppage since 1972. The last one began Aug. 12, 1994, and it led to the cancellation of 921 games as well as the World Series.
Donald Fehr, Major League Baseball Players Association executive director, told reporters after today's meeting that the players would let negotiations continue throughout this week and would meet again Friday via conference call to consider their options.
"You establish a date when you believe it's essential to reach an agreement. But bear in mind that a strike is the last thing the players want,"Fehr said. "They want to get to it only when they feel that they must, and we are not at that point yet. Hopefully, we won't be."
Atlanta Braves pitcher Tom Glavine, a member of the union's executive board, said players want to give the negotiating process "every chance to succeed."
"We feel like there's a window of opportunity to get something done in the next several days and we're willing to explore that," he said.
Luxury Tax a Taxing Issue
The key sticking point is a proposed luxury tax, where big-spending teams have to give money to smaller-market clubs. Many owners want the tax as a form of revenue sharing to restore competitive balance to the business of baseball.
But players — and owners from some big-market clubs — oppose a luxury tax. Players believe the move will lead to lower salaries while these owners, among them New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, do not believe they should be forced to subsidize other teams.
The big unknown is how fans would react to another work stoppage.
"I think the baseball fans are at the point now, they're just sick and tired of it. They're fed up with it," said ABC Sports' Johnny Holliday. "And the fans can have a say. They can say 'OK, you guys go out, we're never coming back.'"
'Push the Envelope'
If the executive board of the players' union ultimately agrees to strike, players could walkout later this month or next month. Some issues appear to have been resolved, such as players agreeing to mandatory drug testing and steroid screening.
Chicago Cubs player Joe Girardi said he was optimistic a strike could be averted as he entered the board's meeting. But he defended the right of players to threaten to walk off the job.
"I don't think it's waving a black flag. I think it's just trying to push the envelope to try to get a deal because the players want a deal done just as much as the fans and the owners," Girardi said.
Earlier this month, baseball Commissioner Bud Selig emphasized the need to get some financial balance between the clubs.
"The system is so, in my judgment, badly flawed, it's going to take a myriad of solutions," Selig said.
Selig believes the system enables only the wealthiest teams to compete and thinks revenue-sharing is the only way to restore competitive balance among clubs. However, critics say Selig has a vested interest in revenue sharing because he owns a less-wealthy, small market club, the Milwaukee Brewers
ABC News Radio contributed to this report.