BASEBALL STRIKES OUT

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Major League Baseball team owners and their players have mismanaged themselves, their relationships to each other, their cities and their fans, and whipped themselves into what must be the stupidest strike ever.

At the very moment things were going so well for the sport and its fans, they reward us with a strike. The so-called businessmen who own the teams are so focused on what passes for their finances that they've ignored the principles of marketing and how marketing their teams, players and sport can contribute to growth and economic health.

These owners deeply resent the fact that in today's world, superior ball playersthose rare individuals who make it to the majors and draw the fansare going to command bigger and bigger salaries. No, they're not being paid as much as some basketball and football players, or movie stars. But even so, the owners seem to have no idea about how to use their players off the field to build attendance, to create future fans and generate more team revenue.

Some owners really believe they can't build a solid team, even a championship team, in baseball's smaller cities. And they show disdain towards the advertisers who are eager to support them.

The players? Sure, they want to make as much money as they can while they're in the majors. They know how suddenly careers can end, that their major league days are finite. And yes, some players are nasty guys. What else is new? Was there ever a time when every team consisted of perfect off-the-field role models? Don't the different personalities in the big leagues today make it all the more interesting for the fans? Which fans are clamoring for their home team to drop its star slugger because he's not the nicest guy off the field?

Clearly, our sympathies are with the players. Baseball players are special. All one needs to do is ask this question: Who would we rather pay to see, Ken Griffey Jr. or George Steinbrenner?

C'mon, you jerks. Get your teams back on the field where they belong.

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