But not as much as they'd make if the season were on. The Angels had pre-sold 90,000 tickets and expected to take in $600,000, everything included, for three weekend games with the Red Sox. They were of course canceled. Los Angeles, which leads baseball with an average home crowd of 46,000, can't possibly benefit from the strike, though the Twins (8,000 a game) would. In another season of potentially record-breaking attendance—it was up more than a million compared to 1980—most teams will lose money precisely because they've been making it.
The effects of the strike will be felt well down the line:
The minors. "Short term there'll be no effect," says minor league President John Johnson. "Our attendance might even increase because of the absence of major league telecasts. But we're under working agreements with major league teams; how long can they afford to subsidize us?"
The media. The status of baseball's $41.5-million-a-year national TV package hadn't been determined last week, but it seems doubtful the clubs will collect every cent. "Maybe they could double up on broadcasts after the settlement," says Tom Villante, baseball's executive director of marketing and broadcasting. "Where?" responds an ABC Sports executive. "It could be chaotic." NBC, which has contracted to broadcast 27 Saturday games, substituted highlights of the 1975 World Series' sixth game the day after the strike began; the proud peacock will blushingly rush a sports anthology show into available Saturday spots. ABC, which had contracted to air Monday and, beginning in August, Sunday broadcasts planned to show the movie Elvis! in Monday's slot.
Related enterprises. At an average Astro game, 22,750 bags of peanuts, 14,000 buckets of popcorn and 3,300 gallons of beer are sold. Somewhere at the Houston Popcorn and Supply Company, 100,000 pounds of Virginia peanuts are in cold storage. "Last year's drought made them difficult to obtain and expensive," says company President Augie Schmitt. "Suppose the Astros don't play the rest of the year? What am I going to do—eat them myself?" And what about John Henzl, the organist at Wrigley Field, who apparently hadn't gotten the news. On Friday he reported for a game with the Padres and played for half an hour before someone told him to go home.
The benefits. A player on the disabled list can in most cases use clubhouse equipment to rehabilitate himself. A healthy ballplayer, however, can't use balls, bats, fields or other strictly baseball-oriented tools of the trade that are owned by the clubs. Time counting toward free agency is being withheld, and there may already be some casualties. The Yankees' Ron Guidry, who needed all but nine days of the 1981 season, now might not be a free agent until 1982.
Did it have to end this way? Unfortunately, yes. For one reason, the study commission's sessions were also attended by the negotiating teams. "Both sides were encumbered," says an observer. The same was true of negotiations. The players felt the owners were asking them to compromise a right as basic as free speech. "We have something we won in the courts and they're trying to take it away," said Cleveland's Bert Blyleven. Of course, the players had compromised their freedom with the 1976 settlement. But, given the militancy of his charges, Miller had to move slowly toward increasing compensation to include even good prospects from the minor leagues. Disturbing the 25-man major league roster, he said privately, was impossible. At the same time, however, Grebey was saying, "There has to be compensation from the 25-man roster. That's the bottom line."
The Cincinnati Enquirer called the negotiations "the bores of summer." Ken Moffett, the federal mediator who had to attend hours of fruitless debate, was equally frustrated. "These are the most bizarre negotiations I've been involved in during 22 years as a mediator," he said. "The issues are resolvable, but there's no negotiating."
On June 3, in Rochester, N.Y., Judge Werker began hearing the NLRB's player-supported request for the injunction. To the stand came Commissioner Kuhn, whose virtually unlimited powers in behalf of the game's "best interests" have been gathering cobwebs of late. Back on Dec. 8, Kuhn said at the winter meetings that high salaries bred by free agency were driving the game toward fiscal disaster. Might Kuhn's views reflect those of the Player Relations Committee? asked the player and NLRB attorneys who were trying to open baseball's books. "I am not a spokesman for the PRC," Kuhn said, "either publicly or in collective bargaining." For whom does Kuhn speak?
As this tale of pride and paradox dissolved into a strike, Miller added yet another ironic twist. Responding to owner complaints that only he obstructs a settlement, Miller withdrew from negotiations. The union is now represented by four players—Doug DeCinces and Mark Belanger of the Orioles, Bob Boone of the Phillies and the Expos' Steve Rogers—assisted by Players Association counsel Don Fehr. Other players can attend. Unfortunately, the owners won't be on the other side of the table. Grebey and his assistants have banned the owners throughout and, according to some front-office executives, have been less than zealous in keeping them informed.