September 08, 2002

Maybe baseball strike would've been for best

I was honestly hoping that the idiots involved in professional baseball would finally put the last nail in the coffin for this sport by going on strike.

Going on strike would have had many benefits. If professional baseball went away, we'd all survive. But if professional baseball survived a strike, we'd see the power of professional baseball to hypnotize municipalities to go into the taxpayers' pocket for hundreds of millions of dollars for stadiums to erode and disappear.

We'd have seen owners and players alike humbled by a public finally fed up with a business (not a sport) that is so insular that it cannot recognize just how out of touch it is with the real world.

Maybe we'd have seen a push to keep the game affordable for families who earn what real people earn. Maybe, if it survived, we'd have seen some movement to strip baseball of its antitrust protection and make it really face the real world.

Maybe, if it survived, we'd have seen some recognition of how the game exists because of its fans, and not the other way around. And maybe we'd actually have the "heroes" of baseball come up with a real drug-testing program rather than the sham they've come up with, so the kids would have real heroes to look up at.

Baseball may be the national pastime, but once you're dealing at the professional level, that's no longer true.

There it's a business, and in this era of business volatility, perhaps we've seen that baseball has one last shot at reshaping itself, or simply becoming irrelevant.

Somehow I doubt the people involved with professional baseball will do what they need to do to restore it. And maybe that's for the best.

John McGing Columbia

Labor agreement didn't solve problems

Now that the players' consecutive win streak in labor negotiations has reached nine, one has to wonder why the owners even show up.

The latest farce has guaranteed that the large-market teams can make their luxury-tax payment with an entry-level credit card and that the small-market clubs can add at least one minimum-salary player to their starting lineups.

ESPN has to be happy since it will be able to continue to pick up the flight of the ball against the background of empty seats at the now non-contractible teams for the next four years.

Do me a favor, Bud Selig. Four years from now, instead of poor-mouthing the owners you represent, just leave the Major League Baseball wallet on the negotiating table and go back to Cheesehead land.

Chuck Dippenworth Bel Air

Business of baseball leaves the fans behind

As a kid growing up in the idyllic late 1950s, it was a pleasure following the fortunes of the Baltimore Orioles.

Win or lose, fans easily identified with home-team players such as Gus Triandos, Hoyt Wilhelm or Brooks Robinson.

Baseball cards were cherished, not because of their monetary worth, but because the players were our heroes and we wanted them nearby, in a shoebox, where we could glance at their faces and memorize their statistics.

Fast forward to today - "show me the money," player movement, rampant steroid use, skyrocketing ticket prices, work stoppages. These are the phrases that have overtaken the sport. How is a fan supposed to relate to a player whose only sense of loyalty is his bankbook? And haven't these selfish player attitudes negatively affected the youth of today?

As free agency has turned the players into smug multi-millionaires fighting for every additional dollar, the game itself has become a sideshow and a pretty poor one at that. I can't remember the last time I was able to sit and watch a nine-inning game or listen to a full radio play-by-play. It's literally torturous.

Although the players will say they finally achieved freedom by way of Dave McNally/Andy Messersmith arbitration ruling, it is also true that starting with that fateful day, the game of baseball transformed into a business - a business whose staunch financial supporters, the fans, have become nothing more than innocent victims of a shameless industry.

Morton D. Marcus Baltimore

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