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1994 News > Weak Markets

GLAVINE: WEAK MARKETS SHOULD BE ABANDONED

By Tim Tucker, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

If Tom Glavine were commisioner of baseball--and if the position had real power--there probably wouldn't be big-league teams in Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, San Diego.

Glavine, the Braves' player representative, does not believe for a minute that baseball has widespread economic problems. But he believes a few teams may simply be in the wrong cities to thrive.

"There are some teams in tough markets, but there are viable options, such as selling those teams to someone who can afford to run them or selling those teams to someone who will move them to markets where they can generate sufficient revenue," Glavine said Wednesday morning, day six of the baseball strike. "Teams that the owners are always pointing to as big money losers--Pittsburgh, Mikwaukee, San Diego--have been in this situation a long time, so why not let them explore other possibilities and places where they can be profitable? Corporate America does that all the time.

"I'm not saying every team should move to St. Petersburg, or that a team should move because it has one or two tough years. But these teams have been in this situation for 10 years or so. I understand the tradition of baseball, but I just can't see an owner being in an industry and a location where he knows he can't make money and not being willing to look at going somewhere else just because of tradition."

This is a problematical position. Baseball may ultimately need a revenue-sharing system--whether or not that includes a salary cap--that allows all current markets to thrive, plus new ones. And economics aside, Glavine's is a tough stance when you think of the fans in those cities.

"Sure, it is, " he says. "But how many times have the Braves moved? They were in Boston, Milwaukee, Atlanta. Finally they found a home where they do well."

Consider Milwaukee, he says. "Sure, the Brewers may have a tough time making it, with the Cubs and White Sox nearby." And San Diego. "They're competing with two other teams [Dodgers and Angels] for fans."

At Odds With Some Kasten Views

Glavine read the comments of Braves president Stan Kasten in this space yesterday: "Some of the things I didn't agree with. A few I did."

He disagreed, of course, with Kasten's assessment that baseball will lose $100 million this year.

He disagreed with Kasten's characterization of the union as one that "always has to bring management to its knees" to make sure it's getting everything that can possible be gotten. Said Glavine: "That's certainly not the case, and I don't think that's what Marvin Miller [the former union chief, criticized by Kasten] was all about."
But Glavine didn't dispute Kasten's contention that the players' strategy is simply to outwait the owners. "Our stance right now is we're going to wait this thing out and hope that the longer we wait, the more likely it is the owners will come off the salary cap."

Like Kasten, Glavine couldn't offer any insight into when the strike might end. "I really don't have a gut feeling on that. I felt that once it started, it'd be at least two weeks before you saw any kind of [meaningful] talks--not to say that in two weeks there would be a solution."