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In the Crossfire

Will ballplayers, owners strike out this time?

(CNN) -- Baseball players have set a strike deadline of August 30 and may be one step closer to a walkout. Would a strike be crippling for the American pastime?

CNN's Keith Olbermann and sports agent Drew Rosenhaus step into the "Crossfire" with hosts Paul Begala and Robert Novak, batting around the idea of a work stoppage.

NOVAK: Drew, I want to tell you something. Every time they have had collective bargaining, nine times they have had a strike. Every time a strike deadline has been set, there's been a strike. And I'm speaking as a fan, who out of his own after-tax dollars, pays for expensive season tickets with the Baltimore Orioles.

My friends who have season tickets and I say, "This is all, baby." We renewed after '94. If there is a strike this time, sayonara. Do you know if that's the truth?

ROSENHAUS: I hope you're right. And more people need to make that clear because we have got to find some motivation to get the owners to work at this thing and not just try and single-handedly impose new rules on the players.

I'm telling you, Keith, that the players are trying to step up. They realize they have to make sacrifices. They are going to be taking a step back, believe me. They're willing to agree to a lot of concessions.

NOVAK: Do you believe that, Keith?

OLBERMANN: I think they have already indicated they are willing to watch the reinstitution of this luxury tax that would slow and drag salaries to some degree. I don't think it's that. I think they will eventually compromise on this.

The problem is there needs to be -- one side or the other here hopefully drags the other one across this finish line in which they both wind up on the same side of the dollar bill and manage to work this marvelous industry into some sort of cohesion where it can survive without going through a labor problem every three years.

ROSENHAUS: Unfortunately, in the business world of sports, the only way to get deals done are deadlines.

BEGALA: Drew, just a minute. Let me ask you a question before you give me the answer. Mr. Rosenhaus, let me ask you the question. Why doesn't one side, and you represent ballplayers, win the war and lose the battle? That is, why don't the players in this case give a little on the revenue sharing and insist that the revenue that is shared also plows back to the fans in the form of lower ticket prices so a middle-class family can actually go to a doggone ballgame?

ROSENHAUS: I don't think the players have a problem with that. It's the owners. I believe the owners don't want to give money back to the fans, not the players. The players are very happy with the current status of baseball.

BEGALA: Of course, as an agent, you don't get any money that goes back to the fans.




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