VIEWPOINT / FANS STRIKE BACK : This Time, Baseball Must Keep the Faith

At 72 years of age, I can look back on a lifetime of pleasure derived from being a baseball fan. That may soon change abruptly. If so, it will be a case, in my family, of history repeating itself.

I have had the same box seats at Dodger Stadium from the day it opened and stoutly refute the oft-repeated charge that the only true fans are bleacherites.

My introduction to this wonderful sport took place in Chicago at Wrigley Field and Comiskey Park. My grandfather had a box at both places and enjoyed the game hugely until 1919. That year, the White Sox (the Black Sox) threw the World Series to Cincinnati. My grandfather never entered a baseball stadium again.

I naturally do not compare the pending strike with the throwing of the World Series. However, it is in its way a basic violation of a trust mutually held and enjoyed by the owners and the players.

I do not propose to take sides. It is, however, crystal clear that if the parties cannot come to an agreement there is no viable alternative but to settle the matter during the off-season. There is no other way to keep the faith.

If this does not turn out to be the case, I may well follow the example set by my grandfather. My judgment is that I will be part of a very large army. The fans hold the final power to strike.

ARMAND S. DEUTSCH

Los Angeles

Who cares about the interests of overpaid major league punks when they continue to insult us fans with their actions? Andujar's refusal to play in the All-Star game, those no-shows at the Minneapolis children's hospital, Howe's incessant whining, and Carew's game-losing lack of hustle are all current examples of baseball's cancer. It is time to excise the rot.

I am tired of paying for their "chemical" habits and ostentatious hobbies in order for them to find sanctuary from the pressures of their "work." If they want more for their retirement funds, let them raise fines to the level of punishment and not the license that current fines represent.

My love for baseball is at present inversely proportional to the arrogance of the players and the coddling they receive from both owners and the commissioner. It is sad that the players are too wimpish to police their own by effecting a little peer pressure, without which they are all culpable.

It is equally sad that I am finding more enjoyment booing than cheering.

JESSE M. GOAD II

Santa Barbara

May I suggest that someone better remind the strike-bound ballplayers that excessive and unreasonable union demands have already cost thousands of American workers in the steel and auto industries their jobs--and unless affluent major leaguers understand the elementary principle of risk capital, our national pastime is eventually doomed.

Perhaps it's just as well to return to Square 1 without the help of agents, unions and strike threats. I think I see nods of approval from Connie Mack, Jake Ruppert, John McGraw, Bill Wrigley, Bill Veeck and Walter O'Malley.

BILL RETCHIN

La Quinta

Well, the strike date has been set now, and I am angry. I won't dwell on the merits of men being paid $330,000 to play a boys' game bickering with millionaire owners; neither of those parties really stand to lose anything. The big losers are we, the fans. What can we do? We can sit quietly and wait, or we can unite and voice our feelings. I propose a two-stage course of action:

--A one-day "fan strike" of all games on Saturday, Aug. 3, in every major league city. Go to the beach, go fishing, or play baseball ourselves; just don't go to the stadium.

--If the players do strike, we should strike the rest of the season, effective the date that the owners and players end their strike.

Together we can make a difference.

JAMES KURTENBACH

San Diego

I may only be 12 years old, but I have very strong opinions. I love sports and, frankly, it makes me sick to see players go on strike. They say they should get paid more, but I don't think so, when I consider the facts.

For instance: who holds more importance to a community--a doctor who may save a life a day or a $2-million shortstop who hits .250 and makes some dazzling stops? Now I admit some doctors may be overpaid, but is a simple game as important as life and death?

If I had it in my power, I would organize a fans' union. Every time the players decided to strike, we would strike, too. We could make it very hard for the players to be paid much at all, by making every ballpark's attendance as low as Pittsburgh's.

Being an Angel fan, I would hate to see an August strike take place because the Angels have a decent team this year. I would like to see everything come out all right, and I hope it does.

JESSE PHELPS

Ojai

I think it's time for the owners to get together and decide among themselves that they will pay an X amount of dollars to their players--take it or leave it! Too many clubs are on the verge of bankruptcy and it's time to pull the string.

When an employee dictates to an employer as to his salary and working conditions, then that employer is in serious trouble. That's exactly where the owners stand.

Perhaps if no baseball is played in 1986 because of undue demands, then maybe the players will see the light.

SAM ALFIERI

Bishop

For $6 I get a box seat (90 to 340 feet from the plate). For $2 I get a beer. For $2+ I get a hot dog. For $2 I get to park in an unsecured lot.

For $1 I can go to Long Beach, Lakewood, San Bernardino, Santa Ana or Lancaster and see two games where the pitchers throw the ball to the plate quicker than major leaguers. Where the players actually dive for balls. These guys play 100 games a year on weekends and work 40 hours a week. Fast-pitch softball players try harder, play harder and actually give a damn about their sport. Strike? Not them! They would (and do) pay their own way just to play. They play for pride and an occasional trophy.

I love baseball, but if there's a strike, it's nice to know I can go watch some guys play and have fun.

GREG WARREN

Moreno Valley

Today's salaries are understandably high. There is a limited supply of players and, because of the existence of many fans, a great demand for them. So long as people continue to go to the ballparks, salaries will be high and the players, in their rational self-interest, will continue to ask for and get more.

But who are these "athletes" who will be getting more? At the recent All-Star game, there were 58 players on the rosters of the two teams. Of this total, 15 signed up to visit a children's hospital. Only seven showed up. So much for the athletes supported by the fans. They are too busy examining their obscene contracts and ignoring their .220 batting averages to spend time with those who are their only true fans--the kids.

Strike--let it come. The only players I have sympathy for are Pete Rose, Tom Seaver and Phil Niekro for they may miss their rendezvous with history.

RICHARD A. BILAS

Tehachapi

If the players go on strike, I will boycott baseball for the rest of my life (I am 28). I will never attend another baseball game. I will never watch or listen to another baseball game on television or radio. I will never read another baseball book. And, I will never look at another box score in a newspaper or read another article about the game.

I'm mad as hell and I'm not got to take it anymore.

BILL GEYER

San Pedro

As much as I enjoy baseball and have for 60 years, I say let them strike for the rest of the year. Between the outlandish salaries, the penchant for drugs, the childish egos, who needs baseball? Do some gardening, take up a new hobby. Forget the Howes, Steinbrenners, et. al.

GEORGE PEGG

Los Angeles

I've been following baseball since the 1920 World Series between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Cleveland Indians. After almost 65 years, I'm saying "Go ahead and strike! Who cares?" Life (I hope and am pretty sure) will go on for the rest of us until these guys come to their senses and play ball once more.

BERNARD SIEGEL

Los Angeles

According to the rule book, only umpires may call balls and strikes !

GEORGE GARDNER

North Hollywood

Land of Capitalism and Free Enterprise

I am appalled to hear people criticize baseball players as being overpaid. What exactly do they mean by overpaid? Is it that baseball players make more money than, say, secretaries, accountants or construction workers? Or is it that they are a bit jealous?

Well, this is America, folks, the land of capitalism and free enterprise, where wages and prices are controlled by the "invisible hand," the law of supply and demand. Why shouldn't baseball players enjoy this freedom like movie actors, professors, and everybody else? Allow a player to demand what he wants according to his own subjective opinion of his ability and talents, and if there exists an owner willing and able to honor that demand, then let us conclude the player has received what he deserved , not that he is overpaid.

So why side with the owners, the ones who are trying to disrupt this basic freedom within the baseball community (with salary cap proposals)?

DARREL P. COHEN

Northridge

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