Strike's Out

Strike's Out

Strike's Out

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Aug. 31 2002 7:30 AM

Strike's Out

Everybody leads with the baseball strike that wasn't.  "It's a win-win for all sides, but we gave a lot, and they gave a little," says Dodger outfielder Marquis Grissom in the Los Angeles Times. The Washington Post seems to agree that the players got the shorter end of the stick, but there's nothing especially radical or lopsided in the agreement. The New York Times, in its news analysis, says the players settled for a tie rather than "insisting on a shutout."

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The owners got much more revenue sharing and a luxury tax, but not a salary cap, precisely, which the players have steadfastly opposed, the Post reports. Only the league's fattest cats (Yankees, Mets, a few others) will pay the tax, the gentleness of which will not adversely affect player salaries, or so the union hopes. The NYT analysis makes the case that a more competitive league—the presumed result of the revenue sharing and the tax—might boost player salaries if more revenue is generated across the board.

The owners also got random steroids testing, which, if the league is truly awash in pills (as has been reported), is a big deal, but the papers don't give it much play. The union, naturally, could only treat it as a minor concession. Contraction was the other semi-big issue, and there will be none until at least 2006, so Expos and Twins fans can rest easy—and continue to stay at home—for four more years.

The NYT reminds, in both its news analysis and an editorial, that the players have walloped the owners in past negotiations. The editorial contains the most telling figure: The average player salary in 1976 was $51,501; today it's $2.3 million.

Golf, too, makes the fronts of both the NYT and the LAT, as Augusta National Golf Club announces it will televise the April 2003 Masters commercial-free, rather than subject its sponsors to pressure from the National Council of Women's Organizations. Augusta refuses to admit women—though it says it will when it's good and ready—and has among its 300 members fewer than 10 African-Americans, the NYT reports. The Masters is already "a commercial anomaly in televised sports," according to the NYT, in that it allows CBS to broadcast only four minutes of commercials per hour. Not there will not even be that, and CBS is likely to be the NCWO's next target.

The NYT and the LAT off-lead a ruling by the World Trade Organization that allows the European Union to impose $4 billion in penalties on the U.S. At issue is a tax break for off-shore American subsidiaries that export American goods. The EU argues—and the WTO agrees—that the break amounts to an illegal export subsidy. Congress may simply rewrite the law and avoid the penalties, but the LAT quotes trade experts who say the U.S. will avoid the issue until next year due to the slipshod economy. "We are patient," says the European Commission's chief trade negotiator in the NYT. "But patience has its limits."

The NYT fronts the continued drop in welfare rolls in New York City and elsewhere in spite of the economic downturn. Unemployment in NYC has risen 20 percent since March, and the homeless population has markedly increased, but the number of people on public assistance is down 9.5 percent. Explanations? The city discourages people from seeking aid, say advocates for the poor, while fans of the current system say people are just more self-reliant. Another interesting explanation, according to the Times, is that single mothers in New York tend to work in industries (health care, education and social service) that have been recession-proof.

The WP goes on Page 3 with the solving of "an unyielding mystery of World War II." It seems that an hour before the Japanese attack on Dec 7, 1941, a U.S. destroyer sank a Japanese midget sub in Pearl Harbor. The discovery of the little sub proves that the U.S. fired first, as some had suspected, but did not start the war: Japanese planes and sub were heading toward their targets. Officers were still awaiting confirmation of the sub hit when the airstrikes began.

Finally, the NYT stuffs lesson plans for 9/11, as teachers and administrators wrestle over how to commemorate the day. Some of the more touchy-feely ideas, such as "My Name Is Osama," a story about an Iraqi-American boy who is teased by his classmates after the attack, have irked conservatives. "Teachers must be willing to say that there are moral absolutes," says William Bennett. The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation wants students to discuss "President Bush's exemplary conduct" after Sept. 11, while a UC Sacramento prof says, "I don't think it would be productive to get kids riled up and hateful." A Michigan professor says, "The irony is what the Islamic terrorists accuse us of is arrogance, yet here's a country that is so reticent to say our form of government is better than the kinds of autocratic, intolerant governments that they support."

Bill O'Brien is a freelance writer living in Manhattan.