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Published: Friday, 8/22/2003

MLB's financial picture discussed

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The Cleveland Indians' vice president of public relations and the team's television color commentator discuss the changing financial picture of Major League Baseball along with several other issues surrounding the game when they appear on the next installment of The Editors, at 9 o'clock tonight on WGTE channel 30, and Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on WBGU channel 27.

VP Bob DiBiasio and Rick Manning, who played center field for the Tribe from 1975 through 1983 as part of his 13-year career, share their opinions on the state of baseball free agency as it compares to pro football and basketball; the likelihood of contraction in future seasons; the influx of talent from overseas, specifically from Japan; interleague competition; the progress of the Indians' rebuilding efforts, which includes 14 rookies on the 25-player roster; outfielder Milton Bradley's status as a budding star; the future Hall-of-Fame prospects of veteran slick-fielding Tribe shortstop Omar Vizquel as well as Pete Rose's odds at ever getting in, and why Jacobs Field was such a huge success and other new baseball facilities, such as Comerica Park in Detroit, have not been.

DiBiasio touts the importance of baseball's next collective bargaining agreement in stabilizing the financial future of the game, and says that a 30-year trend that heavily favored the players' financial picture now appears to be heading back in the direction of ownership.

“The NBA and the NFL have done a better job in terms of understanding that they need to have a [financial] partnership,'' DiBiasio says.

On the topic of Japanese imports, Manning feels the recent influx may be “just the tip of the iceberg.''

Both men indicated that Rose's gambling activity should have denied him the access to Hall-of-Fame recognition.

A new park is not enough to boost an organization, according to DiBiasio, who says, “You've got to make good business decisions and great baseball decisions.”

Manning agrees, and attributed Cleveland's success in the mid-1990s to being in the right place at the right time with a town hungry for a winner during a downtown revitalization process.

“Everything came at one time,” Manning says. “It was just perfect.”



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