NEW YORK, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said Wednesday night there were still major differences separating negotiators as they try to avoid a shutdown of the sport.
"The same issues are unresolved," Selig said as represenatives of the owners and players met late into the night.
"It has been constructive and both sides are reaching out. But I can't tell you we are any closer. I think only time will tell. We will know more tomorrow."
Selig flew from Milwaukee to New York Wednesday amid what had been growing optimism that a work stoppage could be avoided.
"We hope to have another constructive 24 to 36 hours," Selig said when he arrived at the site of the negotiations.
But some of that optimism was put on hold late in the evening when he was unable to report any substantial progress on the key issues of a luxury tax and revenue sharing.
The players have set a 1 p.m. EDT Friday deadline to reach a bargaining agreement.
"I still think we're going to get something done," said Atlanta pitcher Tom Glavine, chief player representative for the National League. "I just think we're all too close on too much of this to let it fall apart. I believe that."
"I hold onto the fact that having Mr. Selig in town may make a difference," said Boston Red Sox first baseman Tony Clark. "Having him sit down at the table and being able to make the decisions that need to be made in a more timely fashion may help the process over the course of these last 48 hours."
New York Yankees player representative Mike Stanton said, however, that there would be no extension of the stike deadline set by the union.
"A deadline is a deadline for a reason," Stanton said prior to New York's meeting with the Boston Red Sox. "We have had plenty of time to get something done. Hopefully, we will be able to finish this thing off. But if it comes down to it, there will be no extension."
With the deadline approaching, teams were told that if they had long trips to make prior to Friday's games, they should make them. Only in the event of a short commute were teams given permission to wait until Friday morning to travel.
Among the optimistic signs was a report in Newsday that one union source indicated a handshake deal could be made sometime Friday.
The most troublesome sticking point, however, appeared to be what would happen in the fourth year of an agreement to a luxury tax on teams with the highest payrolls. The players are demanding that there be no tax at all in the final year of a four-year deal, thus freeing teams to escalate salaries without penalty and giving star players a one-year window to dramatically boost their pay.
A work stoppage Friday would be the sport's ninth in 30 years -- and perhaps its most damaging.
The linchpin of the potential deal involves a proposed luxury tax on team payrolls. The owners' latest proposal calls for a tax of between 35 percent and 50 percent on payrolls over $107 million, with additional penalties imposed on repeat offenders.
The union has countered with a sliding scale tax that begins at 15 percent and could climb to 40 percent for repeat offenders in the third year of the four-year deal. But the union's scenario has teams being taxed on payrolls over $125 million in 2003 and increasing $10 million each season prior to being eliminated in the fourth and final year of their proposal.
The sides also differ on revenue sharing, an area in which owners have called for $263 million to be transferred in each year of the pact. The players again would like to deal in increments, beginning with just over $170 million in 2003 and increasing about $25 million per season.
The sides also need to agree on a steroid and drug testing policy. It was reported in Los Angeles Tuesday that a steroids agreement had been reached, but neither side announced such an agreement.
The one team that figures to be impacted most by a new agreement is the defending American League champion New York Yankees. It is the lone team that would be penalized under both the revenue sharing and luxury tax proposals.
But six other teams, including the Boston Red Sox and world champion Arizona Diamondbacks, have payrolls in excess of $100 million, according to management standards.