View Full Version : Future of baseball in Bud's hands

08-23-2002, 08:59 AM
Interesting article.

Most people who think there won't be a strike put stock in the notion that the game can't survive another work stoppage, which not only isn't true, but it won't be the reason a strike is averted, if that's what occurs.

There's also talk that there is suddenly a deal to be made, which also is ridiculous.

The deal has been there for more than a year, but the last time the two sides thought they were close, head comedian Buddy Young Selig pulled the plug on the deal and dumped top lieutenant Paul Beeston, who had been handling the negotiations.

In one form or another, the deal has been there ever since, and remains on the table now.

It's a money issue, not a conceptual disagreement. And while it won't be easy, a compromise on the luxury tax is right in front of both parties.

For those who haven't paid attention, or just don't understand it, the payroll luxury tax is just another name for a soft salary cap, with a penalty (or tax) for going over the threshold.

They are far apart on that issue, but that's just a negotiation, not the problem.

Here's the problem: There is a group of about six or seven owners, known as the "Wal-Mart Gang,'' who want to shut down the game.

And union boss Don Fehr is afraid that after he fires his last bullet, compromises and makes the deal with management lawyer Rob Manfred, that Selig and his small-market hawks are going to kill it in committee.

It already has happened once, with Beeston, and the union thinks it could happen again.

Time running out

This next week may be as an important a period of time as baseball has ever known.

Until the players walk next Friday, the moderates, such as Andy MacPhail and Jerry McMorris, are still in charge. But the minute the players strike, the hawks take over and baseball will never be the same.

The Wal-Mart Gang, so named in honor of Royals owner David Glass, the former Wal-Mart CEO, doesn't want a deal with minor concessions.

They want to shutter baseball for the rest of this season and next season, and bankrupt five or six teams along the way.

Say goodbye to Minnesota, Montreal, Tampa, Florida and Arizona, and maybe even San Francisco or San Diego.

The hawks think that would be the best punishment for the players. It would mean guaranteed contracts written off and hundreds of jobs lost.

This is a watershed moment, indeed. The players, for the first time, have reached the same page as the owners on every single issue, which was a huge and dangerous compromise.

There is hard work still to be done in the next seven days, but there is a deal to be made. Both sides know it. They have known it for months.

All they've been missing is a commissioner who can stand up to 30 owners and tell them the way it's going to be, because a consensus of 30 is never going to happen.

It's time for him to stand up and be a real commissioner, and forget for one week that he owns the small-market Brewers.

If he doesn't, if Bud Selig doesn't tell the hawks to get in line, if he takes orders from them instead of the other way around, he's going to have to live with the consequences.

So now we wait, and anyone who says he or she knows what's going to happen is being dishonest.

Only one man knows, and the baseball world is waiting for Bud Selig's answer.