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Throwing Baseball A Curveball

Throwing Baseball A CurveballA group of fans are planning a strike of their own as baseball's labor negotiations appear headed for the 10th work stoppage of the last three decades. Washington, D.C.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [06.24.02] The last time a strike brought Major League Baseball to a halt, Heather Holdridge was a student at Tufts. By the time the players returned to the field eight months later, she was angry and vowed not to sit by quietly if baseball headed down a similar path again. Eight years later, the Tufts graduate is making good on her promise, as she joins thousands of fans preparing a strike of their own to protest baseball's stumbling labor negotiations.

"Thousands of fans, enraged that baseball labor negotiations are spiraling towards the game's 10th work stoppage since 1972, are organizing a grassroots campaign," reported an article in the Columbus Dispatch. On July 11, several grassroots organizations including Holdridge's "Take Back Baseball" are planning to strike at games across the country.

"It looks promising that, at a minimum, this boycott will be noticeable," Holdridge told Tacoma's News Tribune. "We want baseball to take notice that the fans aren't going to standby while they ruin our game."

According to the Tufts graduate, baseball is so concerned with profits that it has lost sight of the legions of fans that love the game.

"Look, we're not naive -- we know that baseball is a business and that teams need to be profitable," she wrote on the "Take Back Baseball" website. "But this isn't about making baseball profitable -- it's about making it really, really profitable."

And as many fans know, there is a lot of money to be made in baseball.

"We're not against talented athletes getting their due, " Holdridge said. "But c'mon guys, it's hard to be sympathetic towards players who work 10 months out of the year and make an average of almost $2.4 million a season."

Unlike the last strike in 1994, Holdridge says fans will make their voices heard loud and clear this time around.

"It's mind boggling that the players and owners could be in this situation again," Holdridge told the News Tribune, describing the residual anger many fans continue to feel from the 1994 strike which cancelled that year's playoffs and World Series. "Fans are watching this and saying, 'What about us?'"

Using the Internet, concerned fans are connecting online. And with the help of passionate fans like Holdridge, they plan to use their collective voice to force baseball to take them seriously.

"The time when fans are frozen out of the process is over," said the Tufts graduate. "And we're going to do what we can to make sure that baseball is about the national pastime -- not the national bottom line."

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