There's a train wreck comin'

added 7/19/2002 by Susan and Darrell Pittman
A solo effort by Darrell...

The billionaire owners and millionaire players once again can't agree on terms for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). It's shaping up as a repeat of the 1994 strike, when the World Series was cancelled.

Both sides are forgetting the fan, the people that pay the bills, and worse yet, the game itself.

I talk to people all the time who tell me that they love baseball, but the 1994 strike turned them off the MLB flavor of the sport forever, and they've neither watched nor gone to an MLB game since then.

Any work stoppage hurts everybody.

Until both sides make a few concessions, which they are not currently inclined to do, the situation is hopeless.

The owners could offer to raise the salary *floor*, stop talk of contraction, and institute real revenue sharing amongst the ballclubs. Having a level playing field amongst the teams only increases revenues, because small-market teams have a chance to compete. Also, it increases the number of potential employers that any given player has.

The players could agree to a salary cap and revenue sharing. It's worked well in the NFL and NBA. If it doesn't work well for the MLB players during the proposed agreement, they could always strike when it expires and get it changed.

In the age of the Enron, Arthur Andersen, and WorldComm debacles, etc., no one believes the owners' poor-mouthing, especially when they won't open their books, and send their "commisioner", Bud Selig (another owner; Wendy really runs the Brewers [yeah, right]) to lie to Congress.

Drayton McLane now says he will sell the team if there is not a "satisfactory" labor agreement. After some initial anger, I've realized that it's his to sell for whatever reason he wants. I just hope that if he sells, it's to someone with the desire and means to put a winner on the field, in Houston.

At bottom, the real problem is greed, on both sides. Both are entrenched, and neither is willing to give up a whit. In the process, they are killing the game, and losing the devotion of the people that care about it, the fans.

As the character Crash Davis said in the movie "Bull Durham", you have to "respect the game". The unfortunate reality is, however, that neither the owners nor players respect the game. In the last analysis, all either side cares about is money, and to heck with the consequences for anyone or anything else.

What is needed on both sides is some enlightened self-interest. I fear that when both sides finally realize their folly, there will be nothing left to salvage.

Send this story to a friend