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"The Only Thing We Have To Fehr Is Fehr Itself"

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Well, and the owners. And Bud Selig. Having just watched the top of the 10th inning in Ken Burns' epic history of baseball, I was walked through the strike of 1994 in a segment aptly titled "Millionaires Against Billionaires." The narrative includes the players and owners allegedly coming to the realization, as the 1995 season commenced amidst empty seats and angry signage, that they could never afford to alienate fans again this way. Don't be so sure.

The current CBA (collective bargaining agreement) expires after 2011 and one hopes that the players and owners don't take the approach of starting to think about it roughly "way too late" that has served our planet so very well in regards to far less important matters such as global warming and bad bank loans.

The time to start planning to avoid a baseball work stoppage in 2012 is now, not after the 2011 World Series or just before pitchers and catchers are supposed to report for the 2012 campaign. In other words, by the time action is urgent, it is also too late. It's when the problem seems far away that it is fact in the side mirror and "closer than it may appear."

What will be the divisive "issue du jour"? In past negotiations it has been the "reserve clause" which begat "free agency," more recently a salary cap and revenue sharing, with arbitration, draft pick compensation, and a myriad of other issues also earning some attention.

The CBA has become so complex that you wonder if that only means more potential sticking points to snag two sides whose only common ground is common vitriol and greed. Or if perhaps there are really only 1-2 aspects big enough to convince both sides to give up millions of dollars in a game of chicken. Hopefully, the "win now" moves of teams like Oakland, Milwaukee, and Texas don't suggest that any teams are anticipating that the world will end in 2012 or -- even worse -- that baseball will not enjoy a normal 2012 season.

I haven't heard much talk, or worry, about a potential impasse in the two sides agreeing on a new CBA in time for the 2012 season to proceed on schedule. The real question: Is that good news, or bad news?