MLB on verge of strike or lockout

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Plenty of words have been written and said about last week’s major league All-Star game ending after 11 innings in a 7-7 tie, so I might as well put in my two-cents worth.

After the aborted end of the game in Milwaukee, I couldn’t help but think of Cal Ripken Jr., one of those honored prior to the first pitch as one of baseball’s all-time greats.

My thought was: if Ripken could play 2,131 consecutive games, the game’s record, it sure seemed as if 60 players would be able to complete one silly contest.

But, no, the pitchers were tired, the managers pleaded with &uot;Lite Bud&uot; Selig to end it all, sending no one home happy, and there you have it: a game without an outcome.

Well, there was one outcome: a plethora of unhappy fans in the ball park and around the world who, for some strange reason, expected a denouement. Instead, they got a bunch of weasel words from Selig, trying to rationalize his decision, one that was roundly booed in his home town.

No matter that, on reflection, he regretted his decision. By then it was too late, so in so far as we know, the American and National leagues are exactly even &045; able to score seven runs each in 11 innings but unable to stay on the field any longer.

Baseball sure didn’t need that, considering all its other troubles.

Do they need re-counting?

There are the allegations, and some admissions, of the use of steroids to enhance the bodies of hitters, who in recent years have been filling the outfield seats with home runs at record paces. What if Babe Ruth had sated himself on steroids instead of hot dogs, booze and women?

Then there is the family squabble over the remains of Ted Williams, a squabble that surfaced at the time of the All-Star break. If his DNA could be so productive, why didn’t it work with his son, who surely got a pretty good dose of it?

On top of all that comes the possibility of the ninth strike, or lockout, in the history of major league ball.

On that issue, the reaction of most fans is &uot;a pox on both their houses.&uot;

Who are we to feel sorry for, wealthy owners who charge outlandish prices for tickets, parking, beverages and hardly-digestible food, or the players, including .230 hitters who command, and get, exorbitant salaries?

One of the players recently commented that if fans knew all the issues championed by their union, the fans would understand. The obvious riposte to that is, let us know.

Baseball is a fine game. In my estimation, it takes more ability to play baseball than football or basketball. And, before the National Football League and the National Basketball League gained their popularity, generations of Americans grew up entranced by and closely following the big leagues and their players.

Can you say Williams, Stan Musial, Rogers Hornsby, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Warren Spann, Bob Feller or any of the best players of other eras? Williams even suggested a cut in his pay after one of his rare down years. Imagine that!

Then there was the beautiful quote by Ruth when he signed a then-record $50,000 contract.

He was told that, hey, you’re making more than the president.

&uot;Well,&uot; the Bambino said, &uot;I had a better year than he did.&uot;

At this juncture, it is uncertain whether any of the players will have a full year, better or not.

If a stoppage is averted, and they do play the World Series, perhaps Selig will let them finish their games, no matter how tired the players might be