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PLAYERS DIDN'T BELT A HOMER, BUT THEY OUTHIT THE OWNERS

The answer is: John Fishel. The question is: What California Angels replacement player was arrested in Arizona during - yes, during - a spring training game and charged with failure to pay child support?

Aside from such enrichments of baseball trivia quizzes, did any good come from the strike that cost the players $230 million in salaries, cost the owners $700 million in revenues, and will continue to reduce the revenues and status of the sport below what might have been were it not condemned to go from 1993 to 1996 without a full season? Actually, yes.It is not true that the owners suffered yet another total shellacking from the players' union. The players have accepted the principle of a luxury tax - a tax on team payrolls over a certain threshold - to exert some drag on the growth of their salaries. The owners have acknowledged to each other the need for improved revenue sharing, largely to compensate for huge disparities between teams' local broadcast revenues.

The owners engineered the strike, and made sure it would be a long one. They fired Commissioner Fay Vincent, instituted rules by which any eight owners could block a settlement, reopened the contract a year early, waited 534 days to make a proposal - then proposed something the players had repeatedly and emphatically rejected before, a salary cap.

During this strike the owners were confident that a significant number of players would break ranks and come to spring training. Not a single player did. The owners thought that fielding teams of replacement players would put pressure on the real players. Actually, the implausibility of those teams put pressure on the owners. However, most of the owners would have opened the season with the travesty of replacement teams if the owners had not been wrong about what they could do under federal labor law.

Although the owners say the players are greedy, the players' strike contained a large ingredient of the opposite of greed - sacrifice for the benefit of strangers. Many players who struck absorbed financial loses they will never recoup. They did so to preserve a compensation system - a system won for them by the sacrifices of earlier strikers - many of the benefits of which will accrue to players who are not yet in professional baseball.

"I've never been able to afford one of those Gillette Sensor shavers," said a replacement pitcher for the Dodgers. "But I come here (to the Dodgers' spring training camp), and they got those things lying all over the bathroom for free. I'm telling you, the big leagues are unbelievable." Much of what has recently been said and done in baseball has been, in one way or another, unbelievable.