No one doubts his resolve, but there is room to wonder if the people that he works for will support him when the strike begins to threaten their $140 million postseason pot. There were signs of mutiny last week, but Ravitch forged on, seemingly confident that he can outlast both the owners and the union if that is what's required.
If Fehr was gleeful at the fissures that appeared in the management bargaining position, he let out line like any good Missouri-bred fisherman would, allowing the owners to fight among themselves rather than say or do anything that might cause them to close ranks.
He took nothing for granted, but he took advantage of the situation to bring a list of plausible revenue-sharing proposals to public attention, winning public relations points at a pivotal time in the labor dispute.
"Marvin Miller once told me, and he told me lots of times because it was one of the things he wanted me to understand, 'Never be surprised at what happens in this business,' " Fehr said. " 'Do what you have to do and take it as it comes. You'll have a lot of grief if you try to predict what's going to happen.' "
Ravitch is a hired gun who earns a salary of $750,000, but he'll likely move on if this dispute is settled by the time his contract runs out at the end of the year. Fehr is thought to make a salary equivalent to the average major-league salary (about $1.2 million per year). He is a defender of the faith several years beyond the point where he could have returned comfortably to private law practice in his hometown. It is hard to imagine anyone arguing the players' case so passionately and persuasively, though Fehr does not seem infatuated with the fame that goes with representing a thousand of America's most popular entertainers.
"He does not yearn for celebrity," Steve Fehr said. "I think part of the reason he does such a good job for the players is because he doesn't care to be a public figure."