A Swing at Baseball Salaries

Regarding the Opinion page article "Grand Salaries Are Ruining the Grand Old Game," Jan. 4: Grand baseball salaries are indeed ruining the grand old game, but fans such as the author are missing something. Some ballplayers are worth $5 million or more this year because last year they helped produce much more than that in team profits. It's the guaranteed multi-year contracts at $5 million and more per year that are to blame. Rarely will a player so comfortably find the incentive to continue producing, an d neither would fans whose incomes were assured for so long.

Players demand such deals, owners willingly grant them, and fans subsidize them while complaining about it. This year, I don't subscribe to the myth that baseball is a necessity. Jim Rygelski, Jennings, Mo.

Baseball players may be making a lot of money, but this is no reason to condemn them. The author has his time frame wrong. Ballplayers begin training camps in February and finish in mid-to-late October; this is a nine-month not a six-month season.

Secondly, the author fails to mention that baseball players participate in games almost every day, which puts their bodies through rigorous abuse. Barry Bonds and Ryne Sandberg, whom the author mentions, very seldom are on the disabled list. Next, there are thousands of "kids" playing at the minor-league level. These players rarely make more than a few thousand dollars a year, and they do not stay in fancy hotels or travel first class. Also, the majority of franchises are in the black. One team showed a profit margin of $30 million in 1991; this stems from an increase in the already outrageous costs of parking, ticket sales, souvenirs, and concessions.

The author should condone the riches of baseball rather than condemn it. It is a hope for American kids to escape the ghetto and make a good life for themselves. Heath Novosad, Sealy, Texas Somalia Intervention: Purely Humanitarian?

Having lived mainly in East Africa for most of my last 35 years and worked for aid projects in both Sudan and Somalia, I have been deeply disturbed by the United States' obsession with Somalia and the overwhelming consensus that the American-led invasion of Somalia is purely humanitarian.

The American public is naively overlooking the self-aggrandizing role of many international aid and relief bureaucracies, and the media-oriented self-glorification of the American military and of the president, who so calculatingly set the invasion in motion after he lost the election. After years of allowing the US government to carry out bullying wars and deplorable intrigues with dictators, it seems that the multitude of Americans have a deep need to believe that at least their country, especially the ir army, is doing something internationally that is wholly good. Cynthia Salvadori, Northampton, Mass.

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