One more strike and baseball is out
Saturday may be the last time I set foot in Pacific Bell Park. I have decided if Major League Baseball players strike on Aug. 30, I will no longer be part of a season ticket group.
It is scandalous for the players to even contemplate walking out on America’s pastime. Giants second baseman Jeff Kent on Friday told KNBR-680 radio that the players need to do this so they have some leverage. I guess he has not taken note that attendance levels have not returned to pre-1994 figures. It was in 1994 that 938 games went unplayed, and that the World Series was not played for the first time since 1904. Are the players blind to the fact that a strike will be the same as shooting themselves in the foot, or worse?
Kent and all of the Giants players have the luxury of playing in front of sellout crowds nearly every game. Their 3-year-old ballpark is still drawing fans despite the weakened economy. He and the rest of the orange and black may find themselves with a stadium more like their cross bay counterparts, the Oakland A’s, where the empty seats far outnumber the occupied seats. Will suiting up every day be the same when hardly anyone is their to watch?
I understand what it is like to work for a union. I did so for the past six years. I will always care about my brothers and sisters in unions. And it goes beyond knowing in 20 years I can start collecting my pension. But I do not blindly support unions. Every potential strike needs to be looked at on a case-by-case basis.
It is so hard to support the MLB players when the average salary is almost $2.4 million a year. I will probably not gross that amount in my entire working career. But it also is the owners and Commissioner Bud Selig who need to look in the mirror. There are many directions that stones can be cast.
In addition to being the league’s formal commissioner since 1998, Selig owns the Milwaukee Brewers. For the previous 75 years, owners had made a concerted effort to not have one of their own be top dog. If players strike, it will be the second one under Selig’s watch. In the last year he has provided more controversy by saying two teams need to go by the wayside because of attendance and revenue issues. Those teams could be the Minnesota Twins and the Montreal Expos.
At issue are payroll taxes. Players don’t want anything that amounts to a salary cap. This is ludicrous. The National Football League and the National Basketball Association have salary caps. Some say this has made for the leagues to be more even, and that a dynasty like the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys once enjoyed will never happen again. Is that so bad? Would it be so bad if the New York Yankees had a payroll similar to A’s? Would it hurt the game if there were never a salary the size of Alex Rodriguez’s?
If both sides would look at what is best for the game, they will realize that also is what is best for themselves. If no one is buying tickets, merchandise or watching television, then all of this is for naught. There are plenty of other places I can spend my money and time. I don’t need baseball, I want baseball. But I don’t want it any cost.
I missed the end of last year’s historic season when Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs. I was out of the country. I didn’t even know anything about one of the best World Series until long after the Snakes were coiled up for a postseason rest.
But I am here for this season. I want to see the end of it. The legitimate end, not the one the players may impose. I was there on Aug. 9 to witness Bonds’ 600th home run. I want to keep seeing history being made. I regret when I was at the park the following day that I didn’t ask Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy what his take on all of this was. (McClatchy, of the newspaper family, and I had not seen each other since we were interns together in 1987 at the Bend Bulletin in Oregon.)
It is time for everyone involved to step up to the plate to find a compromise to not have a work stoppage. If you can’t do it for yourselves, do it for us, the fans.
— Kathryn Reed is managing editor of the Tribune. She may be reached at (530) 542-8047 or email@example.com.
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