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Deck the halls with busted fenders and busted baseball budgets

By Staff
Dec. 20, 2000
Ah, the music of the holiday season. Handel's Messiah was intended to rock the house. Some of my other holiday selections from Kenny G to John deChario are designed to be background. But I'm one of those nuts who cranks the ole sound system up a bit extra to enjoy these heart warming sounds.
A couple of weeks ago, Sally and I kicked off the holidays with the Atlanta Symphony's Gospel Christmas Concert. Two hundred or so voices backed by a great orchestra. And music which touches the soul. Sounds of the season to warm the spirit.
Crunching metal
There are chilling holiday sounds as well. Last Friday and Saturday we received two of these reminders of the season. Right there on the corner of Poplar Springs Drive and 26th Street. And while we don't live on the corner, the sounds of squealing tires and crunching metal reached above our music of the moment.
Thankfully there were no grave injuries in either of these collisions. The property damage to the vehicles looked substantial to me. However, observers cannot know the personal harm these mishaps create.
Those of us who live along the Poplar Springs raceway can tell you our local police and emergency folks respond quickly and professionally to these events. The combination of excessive speed, a misaligned intersection with uphill approaches and wet pavement make this particular corner a frequent accident scene.
The music and fellowship of the holidays notwithstanding, tis the season to exercise heightened caution on our streets and roadways. Driving conditions are especially hazardous during this season. Wet and cold. Too many drunk drivers. Too much hustle and bustle. Many visual distractions. Time for caution.
Enforce laws
This should also be the season for strict enforcement of traffic laws. Wear out the radar and the intoxilizer. Issue the tickets, reduce the accidents. More citations mean fewer fatalities. And when will Mississippi get around to adopting the .08 blood alcohol standard?
However, it's not just up to law enforcement. You and I are also responsible. Buckle up, slow down and use a designated driver. The life you save may be mine. Or even your own.
A-Rod
I had resolved not to write about the Rangers and Alex Rodriquez. I was determined to respond to one of my three readers who indicated a desire for "no more baseball from Scaggs." But good intentions not withstanding, the combination of A-Rod's contract and the rising cost of tickets brought me back to the economics of the game.
The deal, if you missed it, is $252 million over ten years. The richest athlete-entertainer deal in the history of sport. Alex Rodriquez is a talented and personable young man. An excellent shortstop who hits well, for distance as well as average. A leader on and off the field. An interviewer's dream.
Tom Hicks, owner of the Texas Rangers, is a businessman who likes to build organizations. You know "buy, build, sell." In the case of the Rangers one must add the word "win" to the list. Clearly "A-Rod," as he refers to himself, should help improve the Rangers and thus improve the team's marketability.
Win for baseball?
The situation looks like a win for Hicks and his Rangers as well as for Alex Rodriquez. But is this a win for professional baseball? I doubt it.
Ticket prices continue to rise. For example, field level seats at Yankee Stadium go for $65 a pop. You can view a game from an upper deck perch for just under $35. These are increases of over 150 percent over the past six years.
And the team-by-team payroll gap grows. The disparity between have and have not franchises continues to widen. When one player's pay is greater than the entire player payroll of another team, something is out of kilter.
Baseball has a big league economic crisis. Last summer's report of the blue ribbon panel on baseball economics continues to gather dust. Some of the owners voice moderation even while negotiating huge contracts. Too much talk, too little restraint.
In October 2001 the collective bargaining agreement between the players' association and the owners expires. Players will look out for player interests. Owners will protect their investments. Player agents will stir conflict. Neither players nor agents nor owners are immune to greed.
And who will look out for the game of baseball?
Bill Scaggs is president emeritus at Meridian Community College and a senior consulting editor for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at wscaggs@themeridianstar.com.

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