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MLB rants and ravings

| Saturday, Dec. 27, 2003

The Major Leaue Baseball Players Association released the average salaries for the past five years and there are some interesting numbers:

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays' average salary in 2003 was $776,775,which is $72,000 less than the 1998 average.

The New York Yankees, who play in the same division as the Devil Rays, saw their average salary increase by $2,457,057 over the same period. The Yankees play the Rays 18 times next season. Interested in buying some tickets?

The average New York Yankee made $3,910,227 more dollars than the average Tampa Bay Devil Ray in 2003.

The average Chicago Cub made $1,869,842 more than the average Pirate. This year, with the Pirates cutting payroll, the disparity will be much greater.

  • The Pirates signed Chris Stynes on Tuesday to play third base. It sent reverberations through the NL Central that are still being felt. This will be Stynes' sixth team in the past five years.

  • Hang in there. Pitchers and catchers report in about six weeks.

  • What happened to that obligation to win?

    Didn't Bill Cowher say, on the Tuesday after the Steelers were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, that the coaches and the players were obligated to approach the last two games the same as they would if a postseason berth were at stake• Wasn't that the reason he gave for not taking the opportunity to look at backups?

    So, why did they take Christmas off?

    It was a nice gesture and probably won't matter that much, but it sure is a different approach. I think it would be safe to say that, in his 12 years as Steelers head coach, Bill Cowher has never given his team a Thursday off during game week. Do you think the Bengals, who need the Steelers to beat the Ravens on Sunday, felt all warm and fuzzy when they thought of the Steelers' players spending Christmas with their families?

    It's only a football game -- and a meaningless one at that, but if it's OK to skip a day of practice, why is it not OK to take a look at a third-string running back?

  • I could kick myself for passing up a chance to go to Charlotte, N.C., for Pitt's Continental Tire Bowl appearance. The temperatures were expected to soar into the lower 50s.

  • Recreational sports are not a topic that shows up in this column very often but I have to get something off my chest about snowmobiling in Yellowstone Park.

    I know it's a stretch to even call riding on a snowmobile a sport, and I know the chances are probably pretty slim that you ever considered, for a second, going to Wyoming to ride one.

    I have done it several times and nothing annoys me more than the stories and editorials I read on the subject. A federal judge recently overturned a Bush administration policy that had overturned a Clinton administration ban on snowmobiles. Reading most accounts of the ongoing controversy, you get the impression that snowmobiles are buzzing around Yellowstone fouling the air, scattering herds of buffalo and sending rabbits and other smaller wildlife scurrying for shelter.

    Imagine for a second getting on a snowmobile in downtown Pittsburgh and riding it to Grove City and back on Interstate 79. That would be roughly 110 miles. I rode a snowmobile in Yellowstone last year for 200 miles. You know how many snowmobiles my two friends and I saw in the final 110 miles of our trip?

    None.

    The Clinton administration rules allow only guided tours in the park. The only time I've ever seen more than 10 or 15 snowmobiles at time has been when they were part of a guided tour. Keep in mind that snowmobilers are riding on the same roads in the park that are covered with cars, SUVs, trucks, buses and motorcycles from April to November. A snowmobile has made it possible for me to see sights that no person on cross-country skies or snowshoes could ever see. Of the 2,000 miles that I've covered in the park, I would say that for at least 1,800 of them, other than the ones my friends and I were riding, there were no other snowmobiles in sight. This is typical federal bureaucratic idiocy fueled by misinformed practitioners of political correctness and envinronmentalist whacko hysteria.

    Don't believe it for a minute.

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