What's the Deal with Airline Peanuts:Fans strike back by turning away from sport

It is with a good reason that Baseball fans have recently given Major League Baseball a big FU. The Major League Baseball Fans Union (MLBFU), founded by Chicago bar owner Todd Hyatt, is one of several organizations that have popped up to give a voice to the sport's devotees. Since baseball has seemingly forgotten about the fans, the MLBFU decided to turn its back on the sport as well by demanding boycotts of MLB merchandise, media sponsors and games, as well as demanding a refund on tickets purchased in anticipation of a season climax, if there is a strike. "People talk about who's right. The players or the owners. But what it really boils down to a total disregard for the game,'' Hyatt said in a telephone interview. "It's millionaire players facing off against billionaire owners."

The players may argue over a lot of issues but the satisfaction of the fans, who buy the tickets, collect the merchandise, and drink the Budweiser is rarely one of them. Today we find out just how sorry of a state Major League Baseball is in. And if tradition is any indicator, it will hit rock bottom as players prepare for their ninth work stoppage in 30 years. Since 1972 not a single bargaining agreement has been reached without a strike or lockout. At issue this time around are the luxury tax and revenue sharing plans. Management wants to tax portions of payrolls above $107 million with a $111 million threshold with tax rates of 35-50 percent according to an Associated Press story on Wednesday. Players want a threshold of $125-145 million with a 15-50 percent rate. And of course they oppose any concept of salary caps and changes in salary arbitration. All this is basically designed so the players can get the most buck for their bang. What's sad is that the players themselves will suffer little from a work stoppage. Their salaries are big enough that they can easily weather a few months without work. It's the little people, like the vendors peddling hot dogs and cold beer in the stands, and the business owners who depend on postgame crowds for their livelihood who'll bear the greatest burden. According to an article in USA Today on Tuesday, the players will lose a total of about $10,900,000 a day in lost pay (including $135,802.46 for Alex Rodriguez) if they go on strike, but the parks will lose out on an estimated 12,530,101 fans over the next month. And if the strike does happen many of those fans won't come back. But how soon the players forget; the records and victories that never were when the season was cut short during the 1994 strike and the half-empty stadiums when the game resumed after the 232-day stoppage. In the end the players may have gotten their way but the reputation of the MLB was in shreds. In Ken Burns' documentary "Baseball," the national pastime is presented as a sort of barometer for the state of the nation. During both world wars players signed up for military service. Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, just as the civil rights movement was going into full swing. And today the sport is a reflection of a sorry, obnoxious society where nothing is ever good enough, and everyone thinks they're somehow being screwed over. This is the same country after all, where a man is currently suing the fast food industry, because he became grossly overweight by eating their food. Baseball is still a wonderful game, but perhaps it can be better enjoyed at a minor league park, free of the dollar signs and the egos.


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