Thursday, August 29, 2002

Get me the president

Up to Bush to halt strike by baseball

        If Major League Baseball goes on strike, call the White House.

        Tell the president to put our money where his mouth is. Save baseball. Stop the strike.

        He can do it. He has the precedents and the power to call a halt to the strike and put the ball back in play.

        President George W. Bush is an old baseball man. Used to own the Texas Rangers. During his regime, the team traded away Sammy Sosa.

        But that was 400 homers ago for Slammin' Sammy. He's changed jobs since then. Bulked up. Gotten a raise. So has the president.

        Even though he moved up in the world, George W. is still a baseball fan. But he's no fan of strikes.

        “The baseball owners and baseball players must understand,” the president has said. “If there is a work stoppage, a lot of fans are going to be furious, and I'm one of them.”

        Don't get mad, Mr. President. Get some results. Stop the strike.

War powers

        He can do it. He has an excuse. As he has reminded listeners to his Saturday morning radio chats: “Our nation is at war.”

        And: “Creating more jobs and strengthening our economy are an urgent part of our agenda.”

        During wartime, baseball has historically assumed the mantle of national pastime. The scores, the batting averages, the pennant races are welcome news from home. The game is a morale booster on the home front and to the troops overseas.

        Baseball creates jobs and strengthens the economy with revenues of $3.5 billion.

        A strike would be a nasty bean ball to Cincinnati's already battered economy. For every strike-canceled home game, the city would miss out on an estimated $2.5 million.

        The president could put a stop to a strike. There are legal precedents.

        The federal government seized the railroads during World War I. Rail strikes would have hampered the war effort.

        President Harry Truman ordered seizure of the nation's railroads and coal mines in 1946. Strikes threatened to derail the recovering post-war economy.

Equal pay

        If the president turns into a strike buster, the players and team owners will have to be fairly compensated for being forced to return to work. Stiffing them wouldn't be fair. They have to eat, too.

        Paying their average salary of $2,384,779 a season, however, seems rather steep. There's a war going on. Everybody needs to tighten their belt.

        So, in the spirit of solidarity with America's fighting men and women, players should get the wages of newly enlisted soldiers.

        An Army sergeant commanding the Fairfield recruiting center in Butler County told me that amount comes to $1,022.70. Big-leaguers take note: That's not $1022.70 per day. That's per month.

        The players can afford the pay cut. It's for the good of the country.

        The equally greedy and pig-headed team owners should also be forced to cut back. They, too, can try to get by on $1,022.70 a month.

        If the government takes over baseball, the teams' profits will belong to the people. This will give baseball a taste of revenue sharing.

        The owners and players can watch as the money the sport makes goes to good causes.

        Some of the millions could be earmarked for the loved ones of troops lost to the war on terrorism. Baseball's profits could also help provide for the upkeep of veterans' graves.

        These soldiers fought and died so ballplayers could have the right to go on strike. And the good sense not to.

        That number to call in Washington, D.C., is (202) 456-1414.

        Call Cliff Radel at 768-8379; or e-mail:


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