The second guest is the self-appointed baseball expert George Will. I notice with great satisfaction that Will has suddenly become so overweight that he seems about to pop right out of his tight-fitting suit.

Selig turns out to be a baseball fan, too. He tells us how his heart will break because there will be no baseball games to watch. This is the same man who has been scheming with the rest of the owners for a year to shut down the game.

Will is accustomed to spinning out his ideas on a broad canvas without interruptions. He seems a tad annoyed. While attempting to slobber over him, King keeps interrupting Will with silly questions. Even worse for Will, he is being piped in from a remote location. Whenever King wants to shut Will down, he merely erases Will's picture from the screen.

Will's theory, not by any means an original one, is that baseball's problem is caused by the big-market clubs like the ones in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles hogging all the television money.

King's show lasts for an entire hour. When it ends, I still haven't learned a single new thing.

I have known since spring training that the owners wanted this strike to start sometime in August, and that it would last until the players were beaten. The owners' strategy includes missing the playoffs and the World Series, then locking the players out of spring training next year.

The owners are determined to administer some financial pain to the players. What it comes down to is that they want the players to suffer a little. They figure it won't take long before the players who make the minimum of $100,000 a year realize they owe nothing to Bobby Bonilla, who makes $35,000 per game. Under this scenario, the little guys will sell out the big-money men like Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco and Roger Clemens. Why shouldn't the owners think this way? This is the way they conduct their own lives.

They may be right. This could easily happen by the time spring training rolls around.

There are those who say the owners will lose too much money by shutting down all that time. Nonsense. Most of the money they lose from television rights will be made up because they won't have to pay the huge salaries the players now command. Robert Creamer, author of two excellent baseball biographies, Babe: The Legend Comes to Life and Stengel: His Life and Times, wrote the other day in the New York Times, "If the two sides remain adamant and kill the World Series, then baseball will enter a nuclear winter. Who knows if spring will ever come?"

But just how important is baseball these days?
In a recent Sports Illustrated poll that picked 20 American athletes kids identified with, only Bo Jackson and Nolan Ryan made the list from baseball.

This isn't a real strike. It is rich men retiring to their respective golf clubs. If ballplayers decide to throw up a picket line around Yankee Stadium, they won't be treated the way the copper miners were here in Arizona when they struck Phelps Dodge.

There will be no Governor Bruce Babbitt to call out the National Guard as he did in Morenci. A detachment of storm troopers from the Department of Public Safety won't march into town as it did in Clifton and spray everyone in sight with tear gas.

While you're waiting for the strike to end, figure this one out. In 1968, Carl Yastrzemski of Boston made $100,000 a year and people were agog. Now Roger Clemens, the surly Red Sox pitcher, makes twice that much in a week. Clemens was baseball's first--but not last--$5 million-a-year man.

I am reminded of Atlanta Braves president Stan Kasten's parable about money:
"A king grants a wish. He will give his subject a penny and double it every day for a month. Do you know what the last payment is? Five million dollars."
I don't profess to know how this will play out. All I know for sure is there is something seriously wrong with the value system of a society in which nurses and teachers struggle to get by and Larry King and light-hitting shortstops find no problem in earning $1 million a year.

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