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No Balls, Maybe a Strike

If you can come up with one good reason why Bud Selig shouldn't be publicly drawn and quartered and his parts scattered from Fond du Lac to Madison, let's hear it. Want to bestow mercy on Chisox owner Jerry Reinsdorf? Fine. Give him a nice schooner of Old Style before signaling the firing squad to shoot. Got an eloquent plea on behalf of the Cubs' Andy MacPhail, Toronto's Paul Beeston or Miami's big fish, Wayne Huizenga? Okay. But save it for the funeral of your choice.

The glories of the 1996 World Series are on the books now, but there's no off-season for the fools who are killing baseball. Like serial murderers, they just can't stop hacking away. So maybe the fans should inflict a little capital punishment of their own. The way to do that, since everything else has failed, is by means of actual guillotines, garrotes and gunfire. Extreme days, extreme measures. Forget about calling or writing the owner of your local baseball club and telling him/her in no uncertain terms that--this time--you will never, ever buy another ticket unless every owner signs the labor agreement they turned down last week in, say, the next nine minutes.

That weak-ass crap didn't work in '94, and it won't work now. In fact, it never has. What works is dispatching these autocrats and megalomaniacs and befouled captains of industry in the streets. What works is violent revolution. Rivers of blood. Dictatorship of the proletariat and all that. Issue a thirty-ought-six with a night scope to every baseball-loving housewife in America. So that if Jerry McMorris or Claude Brochu walks by the house, he gets blasted into kingdom come right there on the sidewalk, under the elm tree. Hand grenades for the kids. Lob a couple into George Steinbrenner's passing limousine, then squirt off into the nearest alley.

Death to the tyrants. Every Mariners fan equipped with a nice length of piano wire, just in case Seattle owner John Ellis wanders into the corner sports bar. Do a Luca Brazzi on him. Up in chill Minneapolis, perhaps, armies of angry baseball fans wielding huge icicles. Skewer Twins owner Carl Pohlad like a big lake trout and slow-roast him, $2,000 suit and all, over a bonfire out in the stadium parking lot.

Apocalypse now. In truth, the average fan has as much chance of getting close enough to assassinate Baltimore Oriole knave Peter Angelos or St. Looie halfwit Mark Lamping--two liar/owners who suddenly turned their coats against labor peace last week--as of getting named baseball commissioner. But that will change. Think of it: A thousand cadres of teenagers who've traded their baseball cards in for crossbows. And one lucky marksman getting to take dead aim at Dodgers chieftain Peter O'Malley as he pokes a fork into his plate of arugula on the terrace at Spago. Bull's-eye! Under the circumstances, the delighted busboys will chip in to pick up Pete's tab.

Meanwhile, is there a punishment cruel and unusual enough for Donald Fehr? You know, the doughnut-faced baseball-union hack who's fiddled the fans' goodwill away for the last five years. A month on the ducking stool's too kind for him, the noose too swift. And no measure of poison, one suspects, could penetrate this mule's thick and coarsened constitution. How about 23 years straight of law-school classes? Probably not: The guy never met a tort or a contract he didn't want to have intercourse with. So, then. The solution: Fly Don Fehr up to Grand Forks and lock him in the smallest room at the Ramada. Lashed to Marge Schott. Both of them naked. Throw away the key.

In case you haven't heard, Don Fehr was in London--London frigging England!--last Wednesday when baseball's obstinate, self-destructive, don't-give-a-shit owners voted 18-12 to shoot down the game's new labor agreement. Six thousand miles away was Don. Barely a peep out of him.

But let's not lay all the blame at his door. In fact, let's complete the triple play by also tossing Bud Selig into that motel room in Grand Forks. The Milwaukee Brewers owner, laughably designated as the game's "acting commissioner," was mostly smiles during the Braves-Yankees World Series, implying that after five years of wrangling, players and owners had finally agreed on a new labor pact. By his own description, Selig merely "filtered in and out" of the ongoing negotiations, and baseball types felt confident at last. Word of a successful accord, it was rumored, wasn't immediately announced only because it might diminish the profound excitement of the Series itself.

Good luck.
Three weeks after season's end, there is still no contract, because the Reinsdorfs and Huizengas and Seligs of the world want to wrangle over a minor luxury-tax provision. What does that entail, exactly? Who gives a damn! Fact is, the owners threw their own hand-picked negotiator, Randy Levine, out of the meeting room in Chicago last Wednesday so they could conspire in private, then voted down a deal thought to be done more than three months ago. Shockingly, the owners' 18-12 rejection was an even larger margin than anyone in baseball had imagined: Only last week, Baseball Weekly reported fourteen teams in favor of the new pact, five opposed and nine undecided. But that was before St. Louis's Lamping and Baltimore's Angelos, among unnamed others, defected to the naysayers.

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