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Sports Mailbag: 7/13/02

Saturday, July 13, 2002

Baseball's blunder of All-Star proportions

Just when I thought the state of Major League Baseball couldn't get much worse, it does. An All-Star gala, celebrating stars of past decades and many of today's best players, ends with no winner. No loser, either, unless you count the fans. Again.

What once was a game -- and an enjoyable part of the fabric of summertime in this country -- has become the model of greed. Major League Baseball isn't a business; it's a money-stealing collaboration disguised as family entertainment.

Even the All-Star Game is tarnished because managers don't want to ruin the multimillion-dollar arms of other teams' pitchers. It's understandable when you view the game as a business. It's unfathomable when you view it as the sport the old-timers played, especially so when you charge customers $175 for a ticket to nothing more than a bloated exhibition.

Now there is talk of a work-stoppage. If these multimillionaire idiots, meaning the owners as well as the players, allow a walkout or strike to occur again in my lifetime, surely it will reveal that the loonies are running the asylum. But we've known that here in Pittsburgh for years now.

When do the Wild Things or the Curve play again?

Castle Shannon

It's their party

What Commissioner Bud Selig's two decisions -- to the call the game and to declare no MVP -- mean is that playing the All-Star Game as a baseball game is no longer the point. The game is played as an exhibition, not, as it once was, an important sporting competition.

And now, the same crew that gave you tieball is preparing to lock the gates of access to their little party, in order to split the hairs of their greed, thinking we will watch their machinations with bated breath, preparing the joyous banquet to fete their inevitable re-enthronement.

I wonder what we, the lovers -- the real keepers -- of the game of baseball, will do.

McKees Rocks

Possible remedies

Baseball needed this like a hole in the head, with all the talk of strikes and steroids.

Are you telling me that once baseball officials realized the game was going to extra innings that they couldn't have called a couple of the Brewers' pitchers who were sitting at home watching the game on TV? Don't you think they would have jumped at the opportunity to pitch in the All-Star Game? Or how about a one-game rule change which would have permitted Mike Williams or some of the other pitchers who only threw one inning to return to the game? How about quietly telling the visiting team pitcher to just go out and throw easy strikes in the next inning and let a cheap home run end it?

Go, Wild Things!

Conneaut Lake

Misplaced priority

There is something seriously wrong when airline pilots who are responsible for thousands of lives agree to take a pay cut and guys who play baseball threaten to strike if they have to relinquish one penny of their multimillion-dollar salaries.

Ben Avon

Strike nine, three outs

When I think of the possible baseball strike, it sickens me.

By and large, it seems the entire attitude by the players is that the fans be damned. We the fans pay the huge salaries. Not all players and owners have that attitude. Barry Bonds said recently that no matter what happens, the fans will come back, anyway. Players like Bonds just don't get it, do they?

I am tired of it. I have made a vow that, if there is another strike or lock out, I will never again put foot in a ballpark as long as I live. It's sad it has to come to this, but the only ones who seem to care about the condition of the game are the fans.

When will the players and the owners begin to listen?


Other side of Ted

All of the well-deserved accolades for Ted Williams have been pouring in since his death. None, however, mention the many character flaws he exhibited throughout his career. In spite of his greatness, Williams was arrogant, vain and disrespectful to the fans and media.

Could he have been the role model to Barry Bonds?


Fetters missed

I am sad to see Mike Fetters go. At first, his style seemed a bit unconventional to Pittsburgh's eyes. Over time, however, we learned to appreciate his fire, passion and consistent performances for our Pirates.

Last Saturday night, his last one as a Pirate, he tipped his cap to me during warm-ups. Well, my hat is off to him. We certainly will miss him.


A run or two, please

How much longer will Pirates General Manager Dave Littlefield tolerate the ineffectiveness of Manager Lloyd McClendon and batting coach Dave Clark, who seem unaware of what it takes to cure the team's most glaring problem, the offense?

Forest Hills

Has Patrick changed?

In articles last week by Dejan Kovacevic, Ron Cook, Bob Smizik and Mark Madden, the Post-Gazette essentially suggested that Craig Patrick is no longer the Hall of Fame general manager he was in the early 1990s.

Has Patrick really changed? He built his reputation by making blockbuster trades back in the Howard Baldwin era, when money was seen as no object. This subsequently drove the Penguins into bankruptcy. The fiscal constraints he has faced since then have not allowed him to wheel and deal so freely as he did in those earlier days. Perhaps Patrick could be replaced by a general manager with a track record for working under a limited budget.

It's also quite possible that it's just the financial structure in the NHL, and not Patrick at all, that's keeping the Penguins from being a serious contender these days.


Longtime issue

Surely, Ron Cook doesn't think Craig Patrick has just now "lost his fastball." When he caved in to prima donnas Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr in the early 1990s and let Scotty Bowman go to run his disciplined -- Stanley Cup championship -- clubs elsewhere, it should have been obvious Patrick was in over his head.

Fast forward to 2002, and we find the GM who, despite a run of recent poor drafts, can't find the time to see firsthand any of his club's potential top draft choices? Is it easier to blame the subordinates?

The clues have been there all along.


Asleep at helm

Has Craig Patrick turned into Rip Van Winkle? He certainly has been sleeping while other teams sign second-tier free agents. Even the Columbus Blue Jackets were able to grab two defensemen while Patrick snored.

Patrick's lack of action shows this is a team without a plan. If there is a plan, I would love to hear him articulate it.

Dublin, Ohio

Steelers day letdown

I just got back from the Steelers' Hall of Fame Day at Heinz Field and was extremely disappointed.

I had envisioned getting some autographs or pictures of greats such as Jack Ham, Joe Greene and Jack Lambert.

I get to this event and see this very long line of Steelers fans waiting for the autograph session, which was to start at 1 p.m. The line finally started moving at 1:30 p.m. and gave a sense of relief. Until the time came for the autographs. I stood in that line for two hours to find out that most of the Steelers greats would not be signing.

The only great to sit there for an extensive period of time was Ernie Stautner, who sat there from beginning to end. Lynn Swann signed for 10 minutes, Bill Dudley for 30, Chuck Noll for 15.

All the while, 10,000 fans were waiting to get a signature from these gentlemen.


Leave Masters alone

Kudos to Hootie Johnson, Augusta National Chairman, for his response to the National Council of Women's Organizations as stated in the article, "Master Plan," Wednesday. In this day, when so many high-profile organizations are pressured and give in to minority groups, it is a breath of fresh air to see somebody stand his ground.

Yes, this is America, and minority groups do have the right to join clubs and organizations as they please, but the members at a private club also have the right to handle their membership the way they please. If they don't want women, then, by God, don't let them in.

Castle Shannon

Address letters to Sports Mailbag, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh PA 15222. They may also be sent by fax at 412-263-1926 or by e-mail to names@post-gazette.com. All letters must include signature, address and phone number for confirmation and are subject to editing. Preference will be given to letters 250 words or less.

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