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Enjoy the rest of the season



Published: Sun, September 2, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Our buddy George is always on us about one particular subject.

"Why don't you ever mention the Steelers?"

OK.

Pittsburgh Steelers.

Satisfied?

The real topic: The real purpose of this space was to discuss a topic another friend brought up this week -- the baseball lockout.

Haven't heard about any baseball lockout?

Well, wait about two months, my friends, and you will.

It's coming.

It's inevitable.

As inevitable as a Bartolo Colon fastball on the outside corner of the plate.

If you've paid attention to Major League Baseball (and we know you have) then you understand there's a significant difference between what many of the ball clubs spend on player salaries.

At the top, the New York Yankees and Mets, Boston Red Sox and others -- yes, the Cleveland Indians -- are spending $85 million, $95 million, as much as $120 million on salaries.

At the other end of the spectrum, there's the Pirates and Reds and Expos and Twins, who are spending under $50 million.

Predictably, the franchises that can spend twice as much or more than some of their competitors have better records and win more pennants.

That's been going on for a number of years.

Only every year, the difference in spending gets wider.

Feel good stories: So much so, when a club like the Oakland Athletics makes a run to the postseason, as they did last year, it generates a lot of sympathy support because they did more with less than their rivals in Seattle and Arlington, Texas, and Anaheim, Calif.

Still, the owners of the small-market clubs (that's what the low spenders are called) would like more parity with the big-market clubs.

They've suggested revenue-sharing, and the response of the deep pockets owners like George Steinbrenner?

He's laughing, literally, all the way to the bank.

See, the big-market owners like things just the way they are, which is, namely, they're winning and the small-market teams aren't, and Steinbrenner and his kind aren't in any mood to change the status quo.

So much so, a few of them have suggested that, instead of revenue sharing, why not just close shop at a two or four of the low-end franchises that aren't surviving.

Well, that's easier said then done, especially in the litigious society in which we live.

And that would just be the response of the fans.

Union bosses: How do you think the players union, definitely the most powerful in sports and maybe the most powerful of any union in the world, would react to a decision to lop off 150 or so jobs?

So basically, what's going to happen is this: the owners, who can't agree amongst themselves how to solve the problem, will draw a line in the sand.

The union, in response, will eagerly step across it. And off we'll go.

Our friend said there's one sure way to figure out what's going to happen between now and Oct. 31, which is the latest date the lockout/strike/impasse will occur:

Watch Steinbrenner, he said. If we don't hear any talk about free agent signings from him, it will be obvious the owners are saving their money to protect expenses against a protracted work stoppage.

And if that happens, it leaves just one, most important question: Can baseball survive?

Have a nice day.

And enjoy the rest of the season.

Oh, and ...

Pittsburgh Steelers.

(See George, I mentioned them twice.)

XRob Todor is sports editor of The Vindicator. Write him at todor@vindy.com.




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