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MLB SHOWING SIGNS OF LIFE, BUT CAN IT ACT ON ITS STAR POWER?
Published June 1, 1998
The state of MLB was the subject of one segment on ESPN's "The Sports Reporters," as ESPN's Mitch Albom said, "Baseball has been in the news in the spring more than I can remember in any other spring. Some of it has been good ... and some of it has been bad." ESPN's Bill Conlin: "I tell people, 'Hey, stop talking about the golden age, we're in it.'" ESPN's Mike Lupica: "Even at its lowest points after the strike millions of people go to see this sport in this country. Does it always translate into network television ratings? No, it doesn't. Does that mean it's still not a big-time sport? It's a huge sport in this country. ... In New York, Chicago, Southern California -- all over the map - - baseball is getting up off the canvas, and you can't ignore it." But Albom stressed, "You can't deny that there's also this big negative kick that baseball still hasn't gotten over. ... There's a lot of major problems with the game. If it's getting off the canvas it's still reeling, particularly with younger fans" (ESPN, 5/31). MORE MLB: NEWSDAY's Rob Parker wrote under the header, "There's A Buzz About Baseball." Parker: "Baseball is alive and well. Fans are interested in the game again" (NEWSDAY, 5/31). Story lines such as Mark McGwire's pursuit of MLB's single-season home-run record and the emergence of Cubs P Kerry Wood were the focus of multiple media hits over the weekend in addition to a USA TODAY sports cover story on Monday. In Charlotte, Stan Olson wrote that McGwire "may be in the process of surpassing Michael Jordan as the greatest spectacle in sport" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/31). In L.A., Ross Newhan called McGwire "mania ... a high-wattage asset" (L.A. TIMES, 5/31). Mike Lupica said McGwire "is leading a charge that has put baseball for April and May back in the front of everybody's consciousness" ("The Sports Reporters," ESPN, 5/31). But in N.Y., Joel Sherman wrote that MLB is "wasting a truly unique resource" by not promoting its trio of young SS stars in the AL, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Nomar Garciaparra. MLB "should be mounting a substantial advertising campaign through these three photogenic, intelligent, skilled players" (N.Y. POST, 5/31).