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Striking Out On The Hill

On the day before the start of spring training, angry U.S. senators told players and owners they were fed up with the 6-month-old strike.

Wednesday’s hearing into baseball’s antitrust exemption dragged on for almost the length of a postseason game - 3 hours, 56 minutes - and no votes were taken. But acting commissioner Bud Selig and union head Donald Fehr were reprimanded. Selig and management lawyer Chuck O’Connor claimed some teams may go broke this year - even with replacement players.

Owners broke news on a few fronts:

-O’Connor said the Canadian government told the Montreal Expos they could use replacement players in Quebec.

-Selig said all season-ticket holders could get refunds for games with replacements and not lose their seats.

-Selig committed owners to keeping the playoffs and World Series on free network television for the next 15 years.

Two Maryland congressman want the American League to change the Baltimore Orioles’ schedule so Cal Ripken can break Lou Gehrig’s consecutive-games record at home.

Reps. Kweisi Mfume, D-Md. and Constance Morella, R-Md. asked A.L. president Gene Budig in a letter to allow Orioles fans to witness Ripken’s 2,131st game in the event the baseball strike ends. Ripken, who is 122 games shy of breaking the record set by the New York Yankees great, is scheduled to break the record in Oakland.

The congressmen said 61 other lawmakers support the schedule change.

Orioles owner Peter Angelos opposes using strikebreaking players, in part because he wants to see Ripken break the record. Angelos has been trying to move the game to Baltimore, but Oakland Athletics owner Sandy Alderson told a newspaper he wouldn’t cooperate.

Instead, Angelos can watch the record-breaking game “from the third deck” of Oakland Coliseum, Alderson recently told the San Francisco Examiner.

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