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Baseball, What's the big deal?

OPINION -

August 15, 2002|by TIM SHEA

I can't tell you how excited I am to find out that there may not be a baseball work stoppage after all.

Yawn.

I find it hard to believe that all of baseball's ills may all of a sudden be solved because of the "immense pressure" the players and owners are under to reach a deal before they anger their "loyal" fans.

I, for one, count myself in the category of "we can live with baseball or we can live without baseball." I hardly think I'm the only person who feels this way. I won't be angry if the players go on strike. I won't be elated if a stoppage is avoided.

In the infamous words of Bill Murray from the movie "Meatballs," it just doesn't matter.

How many wonderful moments have there been that made me proud to be a baseball fan since the last work stoppage in 1994? I can rattle them off in about five seconds - Cal Ripken Jr. breaking Lou Gehrig's consecutive games record, Mark McGwire breaking the single-season home run record, the Yankees comeback to beat the Braves in the 1996 World Series, the thrilling Fall Classic between the Diamondbacks and Yankees last season.

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Oh, I forgot a few things - Greedy baseball fans beating themselves senseless every time Barry Bonds hits a significant home run, competitive imbalance that eliminates a dozen teams from playoff contention around the time pitchers and catchers report for spring training, steroid use, Osama bin Laden bobblehead doll night ...

Maybe the players and owners can come to an agreement to save the season. Does this mean that all of a sudden every team will have an equal chance to compete in the postseason?

As long as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are in existence, probably not.

How about those exorbitant player salaries? What happens if some kind of salary cap or luxury tax is imposed on teams?

Well, I'm assuming Alex Rodriguez will still pick up the remainder of his $252 million contract. But who will his teammates be? A bunch of beer-league softball players? Hey, maybe Jose Canseco and Ken Caminiti can come out of retirement.

Bottom line: If there's a World Series this year, I'll still watch. If there isn't a World Series this year, I'll watch it whenever it comes back. Some fans will leave the game forever, but most will come back eventually.

After all, there will be a lot more Barry Bonds home runs left to die for in San Francisco.

-- Speaking of competitive imbalance, another NHL season is less than two months away.

Judging by the off-season they've had, my beloved Pittsburgh Penguins will be hard-pressed to make the playoffs again.

The Penguins made their biggest move of the summer on Tuesday, signing Alexandre Daigle to a tryout contract.

Alexander Daigle?

Daigle was once a superstar waiting to happen. The Ottawa Senators made him the No. 1 pick in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft.

It is assumed that Daigle will help offset the loss of Robert Lang, who left for the greener (or is it icier?) pastures of Washington.

Lang has put up some solid numbers over the last several years for the Penguins and helped the Czech Republic win the gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics. Daigle once posed for a hockey card in a nurse's outfit.

The Pittsburgh Penguins: We may not be so good, but at least we're sexy!

It's just getting harder and harder for me, as a Capitals-hater, to root against them. First they trade for Jaromir Jagr, then they sign Lang. Is Mario Lemieux looking at condos outside the Beltway yet?

So it looks like the Penguins won't be competitive again until at least the 2004-05 season, with a work stoppage just about already in the works. Until then, they can't compete with the Detroits, Colorados, Dallases and (gasp!) Washingtons of the world.

It's hard to believe but two years from now, I may be hoping for the thing that baseball's players and owners are desperately trying to avoid now.

Tim Shea is a copy editor for the Herald-Mail. He can be reached at tims@herald-mail.com.

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