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MLB OPENS SEASON WITH LABOR PEACE, BUT QUESTIONS REMAIN
Published April 1, 1997
MLB's season opens today with 12 games on its schedule. With a winter storm hitting the Northeast, MLB's decision to start east coast teams on the west coast and in as many "warm-weather sites as possible" may pay, according to Murray Chass of the N.Y. TIMES. AL VP Derek Irwin: "We're going to prove to be very smart with the warm-weather schedule we have this year" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/1). With the season's start, writers commented on the state of the game: RENAISSANCE OR BUST? In Chicago, Dave Van Dyck called it the "year of the Dove. A time for healing." Van Dyck: "The game wants to clean up its act, as if it were as simple as dusting off home plate before Tuesday's first inning" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 3/31). In N.Y., Mike Lupica: "It is all going to be quite good, starting this week. All people who have spent the last few years proclaiming the game finished, please take not" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/30). But in Minneapolis, Jim Souhan: "Ugliness remains. ... baseball has become identified as the game of greed and disrespect" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 3/31). Also in Minneapolis, Jay Weiner, in an extensive piece entitled, "Can Baseball Survive In The 21st Century?" asks: "On the Opening Day, this Question Lingers: Can Baseball Preserve Such a Norman Rockwellian Past As the Nation Zooms to an Information-Age Future?" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 4/1). On ESPN's "The Sports Reporters," Michael Wilbon: "Baseball, like PBS and Cadillac, better find some fans under 65 years old, or we're going to find out they're in serious trouble still coming off the strike even though its three years later" ("The Sports Reporters," 3/30). In Sacramento, Mark Kreidler: "Every step now is a tentative one; this is a sport suddenly searching for its market after decades of knowing what it was without needing to ask" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 3/29). HERE'S TO YOU, MR. ROBINSON: The celebration of Jackie Robinson's 50th anniversary of breaking the MLB color barrier was featured throughout the U.S., with special sections in many large-market papers. On the N.Y. TIMES' front-page on Sunday, Claire Smith wrote that "even as baseball begins a season of tribute to Mr. Robinson ... many in the sport express concern that baseball is disconnected from the black athletes he paved the way for and the black fans who watched him. ... While black Americans may no longer be disenfranchised by baseball, they are increasingly disinclined to play the sport" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/30). In DC, Mark Maske wrote "the game's leaders admit there is plenty of work to do to ensure that minorities have equal opportunities off the field." Hall of Famer and former manager Frank Robinson: "It's discrimination, but it's covered up a little better now. It's not as open as it was years ago" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/28).