From the New York Times:It does not take a...


January 30, 1995

AN EDITORIAL from the New York Times:

It does not take a genius to guess what would happen if, say, the automobile manufacturers conspired to withhold their best cars from the market and offered wrecks instead. Their image would be demolished. Enter Peter Angelos, owner of the Baltimore Orioles, making the same point about the major-league baseball strike and the owners' plan to begin the season with impostors in uniform.

Last year's baseball season ended in a nightmare, when failed labor negotiations truncated the season, canceling the playoffs and the World Series. The owners -- all except Angelos -- are planning to open the coming season with replacement players. One of the "hot" prospects is the retired pitcher Phil Niekro, age 55. Photographs of last weekend's open tryouts featured players so rotund that they appeared to waddle around the bases. The Trenton Times recommends that teams made up of bogus players call themselves by names like the Philadelphia Phollies, the New York Newly Mets and the Texas Strangers.

Angelos refuses to field a team of second-raters because, he says, that would stigmatize the game. He also worries about his star shortstop, Cal Ripken, who is closing in on one of baseball's most coveted records, Lou Gehrig's feat of playing in 2,130 straight games from 1925 to 1939. Ripken's chase would end if the Orioles fielded a replacement team.

"This course does a disservice to the game, to the tradition of baseball and the history of baseball in the country," Angelos said. "This is our national game. This is no way to treat it." He stood his ground even after the league threatened him with penalties ranging from a $250,000-per-game fine to the possible confiscation of his franchise.

The owners, of course, are mainly interested in consolidating their power over the players' union while continuing to fatten the bottom line. Yet at least some of them purport to love the game. It would be ironic if they chose to punish the one man with the courage to say that a season played by ersatz athletes could in fact kill the game. They should be listening to him instead.

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