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Open Mind? Not When It Comes to Mr. Grumpy

I’ve been kind of harsh on baseball players recently, forgetting they are humans. So I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to the greedy (illegitimate children).

“Do you think we’re greedy?” Dodger catcher Paul Lo Duca asked. “Are we greedy just because you’re not in our shoes?”

Right away I volunteered to put myself in their shoes for a day, suggesting I take the empty locker next to Kevin Brown and see what it’s like to be grumpy all day while earning only $92,500 a game--whether I pitch or not.

Now would I demand more money in uniform? You bet. I’m not sure there’s enough money in the world to convince me to sit next to a dolt like Brown night after night. In fact I’d probably insist on a private plane so I wouldn’t have to fly with him to road games.

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I GAVE some more thought to Lo Duca’s contention, however, that we would all be doing the same thing as the greedy (illegitimate children) if given the chance.

“Say you had a 16-year-old daughter and you gave her a credit card with a $1,000 limit and she wanted $5,000,” Lo Duca said, and I told him we could not continue the conversation because only a baseball player could afford giving a 16-year-old kid a $1,000 limit and no daughter of mine would dare ask for $5,000 knowing she couldn’t spend it while grounded for the rest of her life.

I agreed to have an open mind, however. In fact I thought about the carpenter, who allegedly agreed with three other friends to split any profits from Barry Bonds’ 600th home run ball if one of them caught it.

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This is known as revenue sharing, of course, and we already know baseball players want no part of that, and so when Jay Arsenault caught the ball, he started acting like a major league player wanting all the money for himself. Now there’s a lawsuit and a restraining order on selling the ball.

The lesson here, of course, is never go to a baseball game with friends, which really won’t change my life.

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IT MAKES you wonder, though, if given the chance to get richer--are fans any different than the guys they are cheering for on the field?

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“Baseball is a reflection of the times we’re living in,” said Dodger outfielder Shawn Green. “The bottom line in different disputes--as always--is money.”

Now if you talk to everyday sports fans they seem very upset with baseball players. Or are they? A group of fans started mlbfanstrike.com three months ago, and called for a July 11 strike to show baseball the fans mean business.

They called for an Aug. 1 strike when the July 11 strike had no impact on baseball, and have now called for an Aug. 29 strike because the Aug. 1 attempt fizzled. The Angels will be at Edison Field on Thursday, but it won’t be the strike that keeps the fan count down; they’re playing Tampa Bay.

Jeff Santaite, the West Coast representative for mlbfanstrike.com, based in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., said Monday night, “it sickens me that the two groups that are in charge of the game seem to forget the people who support the game.”

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Santaite said a sports bar in Baltimore recently sent a message to baseball by setting up mannequins dressed as baseball players, and then inviting the drinkers to pay $1 for a baseball to throw at the mannequins.

If the players strike, we’re going to have empty stadiums and a lot of folks suffering beer withdrawals. So we could have women and children coming to the ballpark and dressing the mannequins with the men paying to throw at them. This would be a natural lead in for Fox’s “Best Damn Sports Show Period!”

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WE THE Fans Who Love Baseball (wethefans.com), calling for a fans revolution, has asked fans across the country to sign a petition on their Web site to save baseball. So far 874 have responded. The stated goal is one million.

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At takebackbaseball.com, the fans’ movement is dedicated to replacing Bud Selig. So far Cal Ripken leads the voting with 23.1% of the vote, but right behind Pete Rose in sixth place sits Rosie O’Donnell. I’m betting Rose has his money on O’Donnell overtaking Ripken.

Baseballfansunite.org called for a national walkout of fans, beginning Aug. 20. That was a break for the Dodgers, because with 154,859 fans showing up over the weekend, imagine the logjam had baseballfansunite.org not convinced so many to stay home.

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THE GREEDY (illegitimate children) will take a charter flight to Houston on Thursday to find their luggage waiting for them in a four-star Four Seasons Hotel. They will get $73 a day for food, and wait to learn if they will play or strike.

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(I always hate to mention the word “strike” around Marquis Grissom because I expect him to swing and miss.)

Someone asked Lo Duca quietly--so Grissom wouldn’t overhear--if there was a strike, might it extend into next season?

“Then I’d be working for UPS next year,” Lo Duca said.

Frankly, I’d like to see a year at UPS a mandatory requirement for all greedy (illegitimate children) who put on a baseball uniform--and call me greedy, but two years for Brown, and then let’s see how grumpy he is.

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TODAY’S LAST word comes in e-mail from Catherine Leary:

“You do the Sparks a disservice with your petty, carping, homophobic depiction of a particular group of attendees. Lucky for you to see a GOOD looking blonde--you must have been starved with your narrow-boy vision of who women can be and what they should look like.”

The good-looking blond I referenced in my story was NBC’s Chris Wragge. A very good-looking man, I might add.

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T.J. Simers can be reached at t.j.simers@latimes.com.


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