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Baseball previews for the New Millennium
By Jim Caple
|In the old days, baseball fans hungry for the new season had to be satisfied with season preview editions of Street & Smith and the Sporting News. No longer. With baseball becoming an ever bigger, ever more lucrative business, everyone seems to be getting in on the act, as samples of these varied season previews demonstrate:
The Joan Rivers Baseball Preview
Live from in front of the batting cage in San Juan, Puerto Rico!
Gallant Ripken Jr. arrives for spring training a few days early so he's ready to go when pitchers and catchers report. Frank Goofus shows up late, then leaves camp in a big snit because he's only making $9 million a year when Alex Rodriguez is making $25 million. Mark McGallant scrupulously rehabs his knee all winter, then negotiates his contract by himself, insisting on a paycut if he winds up on the disabled list. Goofus Sheffield demands a trade, then says he wants a lifetime contract, then threatens to give less than his best, then changes his mind again and expects all to be forgiven. Fat chance. Gallant Maddux experiments with the new high strike zone, carefully using it when he's ahead in the count to get batters to chase borderline pitches. Goofus Clemens takes advantage of the new strike zone, recklessly using it to throw at Mike Piazza's head. ... CNN's "Crossfire" 2001 Baseball Preview
From the left, Bill Press. From the right, Robert Novak. And in the Crossfire, Dodgers general manager Kevin Malone and Athletics general manager Billy Beane. Novak: Kevin, your 2001 payroll will be over $100 million this season. You're spending $55 million on your starting rotation alone, including a $15.6 million contract for Carlos Perez, a pitcher who will begin the season in the minors. You paid Kevin Brown more than $100 million and gave him a private plane, even though he's 36, has won only 31 games for you and isn't healthy enough to start Opening Day. Aren't you just another tax-and-spend general manager who pays ridiculous amounts for mediocre players, succeeding only in raising the salaries for everyone else while passing the costs onto the fan? Malone: Well, I think if you look at what we're trying to do with our farm system ... Press: Bob, if you want to point fingers, how about the president's former team? The Rangers gave Alex Rodriguez $252 million this winter. And your friend George Steinbrenner ran up the cost of competition long before Kevin or Billy ever reached the scene. It's up to the commissioner's office to institute an effective revenue-sharing plan that levels the playing field, giving teams in small markets a chance to compete. Novak: That's your solution to everything, isn't it, Bill? Punish success. Vilify the winners. Socialize the league. The NFL did that and look what it got us -- two wild card teams in the Super Bowl. Beane: I think Barry Zito is going to take a step forward for us ... Audobon Magazine Baseball Preview Issue
[CUE VIDEO OF RICKEY HENDERSON TAKING A LEAD FROM FIRST BASE]
(Unfortunately, the show is postponed because of a lack of baseball players willing to take a paycut.) Jim Caple is a regular contributor to Page 2.
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