Now baseball players and owners need meetings just to arrange meetings.
Talks to resolve the strike probably won't resume until Wednesday, union head Donald Fehr and management negotiator Richard Ravitch said Sunday. But on Monday they'll meet to set ground rules for the talks.Delegations from each side will meet Tuesday with federal mediators. Bargaining, which broke off when the strike began Aug. 12, then will resume with owners at the table for the first time since talks began on Jan. 13, 1993.
Fehr said he has no great expectations for the week, insisting that acting commissioner Bud Selig has "got a calendar" for management's actions during the talks.
"It doesn't make any sense to try and figure it out. They'll tell us," Fehr said. "The notion that anything we say or do matters is simply wrong. They set out to have a strike and they'll negotiate to end it when they want to end it."
The strike completed its 10th day Sunday, canceling 14 games to increase the total to 131, nearly 6 percent of the entire season. Players have lost about $44.2 million in salary and owners have lost an estimated $85 million in revenue.
There have been no signs that owners will alter their demand for a salary cap, although Colorado Rockies owner Jerry McMorris repeated during the weekend that he doesn't think a cap must be part of the solution.
"I have no idea whether there'll be progress," Ravitch said Sunday.
Ravitch also said he didn't know if Wednesday's session would continue through the latter part of the week.
"We'll have to see whether it's likely to be meaningful," he said.
Fehr compared Monday's meeting to the lengthy and often pointless discussions during the Paris peace talks on the war in Vietnam. He said the subject was ground rules.
"I assume this means we'll be arguing about the shape of the table," he said. "We intend to tell them they can sit where they please."
Ravitch wouldn't respond to Fehr's remarks. Fehr declined to respond to reports that the delegation of owners may include just one person with direct investment in a team: Chicago White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.
Fehr didn't think the renewed session would provide an indication of whether the presence of owners at the table would provoke movement in the talks.
"We won't know that this week, I think," he said.
Meanwhile, players continued their summer holiday and management employees who haven't been laid off or put on vacation filled their time.
The Atlanta Braves held a clinic for about 80 youths on Saturday at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. While players didn't attend, pitching coach Leo Mazzone and bench coach Jim Beauchamp showed up.
Braves president Stan Kasten repeated this weekend that not having a commissioner will help owners obtain their objective of cost certainty in the next labor agreement.
"We've really never had collective bargaining with the ability to negotiate evenly across the table," Kasten was quoted as saying in Sunday's editions of The Dallas Morning News. "That's why there is no commissioner now. This is our one chance. We've got to get it right."