How appropriate that baseball announced its return on April Fools' weekend.
RON BOSTWICK, STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, COLO.
The Fans Strike Back
The old work rules were reinstated by a federal judge, so the players came back to work under the conditions that existed when they went out on strike, with no new contract (Brushback, April 3). In other words, after eight months without pay, no World Series money and the probable destruction of their golden goose, the players are back exactly where they started. And they consider this a victory?
RICK COLLARINI, Hoover, Ala.
So the owners decided to grace us with a 144-game season. After what they did to the fans last year, you would think they could have at least given us some doubleheaders to make a complete 162-game season. Cheap! Cheap! Cheap!
DON TRACY, Herndon, Va.
Just a reminder to all returning baseball players: The next time you go on strike, please think of the people who really pay your salaries. It's not the owners; it's us, the fans, the guys who would have taken your jobs on the field and played for nothing.
CHRIS SPAHN, Redlands, Calif.
Congratulations to Michael Farber for a comprehensive look at the malaise engulfing hockey in Canada (Giant Sucking Sound, March 20). Farber errs, however, in saying that the troubled state of Canadian hockey is unprecedented. As a Canadian expatriate, I recall only too well the bad old days of the mid-'70s.
Driven by greed, and in total disregard for a limited talent pool, the NHL went from six teams in 1966-67 to 21 in '79-80, 15 of them based in the U.S. The quality of the game was radically diluted. Into this vacuum wafted the obnoxious influence of the Philadelphia Flyers, whose brawling style took over the game. Across Canada, barroom wisdom held that the Flyers' style was a marketing decision, designed to "get the American fans" who couldn't grasp the game's subtleties. Worst of all for Canadians, the Soviets took full advantage of the disarray of the '70s, often trouncing opponents with a game of finesse and speed that we could only envy.
Fortunately, the WHA was absorbed by the NHL, and most franchises were stabilized. The talent pool was expanded with more Europeans, and with Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy, respectively, the Edmonton Oilers and the New York Islanders again made hockey a game of skill.
DAVID WINCH, New York City
In your article about the economics of the NHL, you did not include any information about the increase in ticket prices. During a recent trip to Vancouver, I was shocked at the prices: $63.25, $54.50, $38.50 and $29.00 for the last six rows. With prices like those, even in Canadian dollars, games are beyond the reach of many.
JAMES DWINELL, Davis, Calif.
I would like to correct two statements in your SCORECARD section (March 13) having to do with player discipline in the NHL. First, details of a new player discipline system have not been determined in the new collective bargaining agreement, as your report indicated. Player discipline is being negotiated at this time. We have offered the NHL Players' Association a comprehensive proposal.
Second, to state that the league did not push hard for greater latitude in levying fines is incorrect. We have consistently insisted on increased fining authority, as the present fining limit of $500 is laughable.
BRIAN BURKE, Senior Vice President
Director of Hockey Operations
National Hockey League
New York City