Keith Olbermann has called me down to the union hall to surrender my liberal card. The MSNBC commentator disagrees with Saturday's Stick Jockey, about replacement players from the 1995 baseball strike being denied an appearance in video games.
Olbermann does call the piece "a fascinating, well-researched, reasonably-argued article at a top video games site." He then throws a little perspective on what it meant to cross a picket line during that labor crisis. How this is relevant to video games: Only members of the Major League Baseball Players Association may have their likenesses used in them. The replacement players are permanently barred from the union, so a guy like former Red Sox favorite Kevin Millar has never appeared in a video game despite a memorable 12-year career. In my column, I argued that MLBPA should, as a gesture of reconciliation, admit the five remaining active replacement players to the union and sweep away this reminder of a very ugly time in the game. Olbermann disagrees.
Olbermann writes that baseball's ownership "were one good court ruling away" from breaking the players' union and blackballing any player who didn't cooperate with their demands. The Baltimore Orioles had completely suspended operations, because owner Peter Angelos had once been a labor lawyer and wanted nothing to do with scabs or union-busting. Toronto had moved its operations to a 5,500 seat stadium in Dunedin, Fla., because it was illegal for them to perform with replacement labor in Canada. And Cal Ripken Jr.'s pursuit of Lou Gehrig's consecutive games played streak was in the balance. I only remember these bad times as a senior in college. OIbermann reported on them for ESPN.
So, he argues, scab players pay a justifiable and largely symbolic penalty for empowering an ownership hellbent on busting the union, even to the point of taking a wrecking ball to the game of baseball. Fair enough. But I do think Olbermann's kicker is a little over the top: "If you feel your video game is incomplete without Brendan Donnelly, you may be a little too into video games." Donnelly may not be an all-star, but ask a Sox gamer how he feels about seeing Millar, a beloved member of the 2004 World Series championship team, represented in the 2005 video games as a black man with a blond goatee.
Wrong [Baseball Nerd, Official MLBlog of MSNBC's Keith Olbermann. Thanks to Rae H. for spotting this]