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Published: Saturday, 8/31/2002

Baseball will stick around

Facing a fan rebellion of unprecedented proportions, Major League Baseball stepped back from the brink Friday and decided not to cancel the rest of the season and another World Series.

Good thing, because the game is in serious trouble and might not have recovered from yet another work stoppage. Even yesterday's last-minute announcement of a tentative agreement does not ensure baseball will return to good health.

But it was obvious that the extreme displeasure of fans over this protracted battle of wills between filthy rich players and owners had gotten somebody's attention at the negotiating table. As one particularly pointed sign spotted last week at Cleveland's Jacobs Field warned the players: “If you strike, don't come back.”

Average folks who will never see $2.3 million in their lifetimes know that $2.3 million is the average big-league salary. And they also know that the owners brought the runaway salary structure upon themselves. Keep in mind that when major league teams are sold, there are always buyers, and the seller never loses money.

The deal gives something to both sides: The owners win a revenue sharing plan to help smaller-market teams compete, and MLB will not contract, or eliminate, two teams.

What a shame that the national pastime has come to this, at a time when the game is losing popularity among kids to soccer. In the meantime, we'll take baseball as it's meant to be played, with a Triple-A divisional pennant on the line at Fifth Third Field.

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