Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

History Says Players Union Will Prevail

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

History Says Players Union Will Prevail

Article excerpt

Twelve days into the inaction, what's to think about this baseball strike?

My first plan of attack was militant pacifism. Don't draft an idea. Don't volunteer an opinion. Don't launch a single thought or expend a round of precious brain power.

Two rich factions are holding their breath over money. Again. For the eighth time in 22 years. Who cares?

It's like a rainout. You don't want it, and it's annoying, and baseball-related working stiffs lose money, but there's nothing you can do.

Eventually, they'll play ball, maybe now, maybe later, maybe much later. Fans will lose no matter how it ends up. Ticket prices never go down.

That was my plan of non-attack. Then Mark Sauer answered the phone.

Sauer is chief operating officer of the Pittsburgh Pirates, my old hometown team. He had the same job with the Cardinals in 1989. He was the rising young honcho once removed from Mark Lamping.

Sauer had one question for a fence sitter: "Where do you stand?"

Anticipating a dodge, he said, "Don't tell me `a pox on both houses.' That doesn't get it. You have to choose. Who's right, the owners or the players?"

For a corporate riser, Sauer is unusually blunt and stubborn and passionate. That's why he is no longer rising in the Anheuser-Busch stable.

He declined a formal request, supposedly direct from August Busch III, to leave Busch Stadium and run the company's other theme parks. Sauer officially resigned in 1991, apparently after fielding an undeclinable request to leave.

The Pirates hired him three years ago. After a century of tradition, the club was a poster child for what's wrong with baseball.

The Bucs have a bad baseball stadium, bad lease, bad accessibility and bad debt. Sauer's mission was to make the best of that bad situation.

Sauer, still an A-B supporter, began saving bucks for the Bucs by dumping salaries, as the Cardinals did. The Bucs who won division titles in 1990, 1991 and 1992 were gone, replaced by a weaker crew that still had the Cardinals beat this season.

Earlier this month the Bucs were put on the market. The city of Pittsburgh is handling the sale, with a tag of about $82 million for anyone willing to keep the team in town. …

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