For many fans, this is shaping up to be an interesting baseball season. True, the Yankees seem to be on cruise control to another pennant as the Red Sox, alas, fade. But the American League West is a tight contest, and there's fierce competition for "wild card" playoff slots.
Yet, over it all like the gloom over Mudville hovers an Aug. 30 strike date.
It's too bad Major League Baseball's warring players and owners have come to this again. The players' union, apparently, felt it had little choice. The alternative, they worry, is a management-imposed "new economic system" when the season ends.
But, as has been said many times before, if both sides would put the good of the game ahead of their narrow economic interests, they'd see their way to a compromise.
The owners want revenue-sharing among teams, plus a tax on team payrolls, to level the playing field a bit between big-market teams epitomized by the Yankees and small-market ones like Tampa Bay or Milwaukee.
The players are not adamantly opposed to such steps, but worry that too much revenue sharing or taxation will effectively cap salaries that wealthy clubs can pay their stars.
So work out a level perhaps splitting the difference between the sides' proposals that quells players' concerns while giving owners some sense of better economic balance. That should be possible by Aug. 30. If it isn't, baseball itself, along with mighty Casey, will have struck out.