Forty Hall of Famers have come together to draft an open letter to Bud Selig and Donald Fehr advising them to use a mediator to avoid a work stoppage.
Here's the text of the letter in case you missed it (for some reason ESPN pulled it but SI still had it up):
Dear Bud and Don:
Though we are bound together by sharing baseball's greatest honor -- being elected members of the Hall of Fame -- we are a diverse group. We are from different generations, have had different life experiences, and as such we each have our own -- often strongly held -- beliefs.
Each of us has our own opinions about the labor-management issues between major league baseball and the players' association through the years -- and today.
Both sides make persuasive arguments to support their positions, and thinking persons can understand the merits of those arguments. Despite how each of us feels individually, however, we all agree that another work stoppage in baseball would be a terrible mistake.
To protect the game we all love and have given so much to, we suggest you agree to a qualified mediator that will allow you to find the common ground necessary to avoid a work stoppage.
Millions of loyal fans, the thousands of people who work in and around stadiums and depend on baseball for their livelihood, and the future of the game, are depending on you and will benefit from your reasonableness and wisdom if you can achieve this.
-- Sparky Anderson, Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, George Brett, Lou Brock, Jim Bunning, Rod Carew, Steve Carlton, Orlando Cepeda, Bobby Doerr, Bob Feller, Rollie Fingers, Whitey Ford, Bob Gibson, Monte Irvin, Reggie Jackson, Fergie Jenkins, Al Kaline, George Kell, Harmon Killebrew, Ralph Kiner, Sandy Koufax, Juan Marichal, Willie Mays, Bill Mazeroski, Stan Musial, Tony Perez, Gaylord Perry, Kirby Puckett, Robin Roberts, Brooks Robinson, Red Schoendienst, Mike Schmidt, Tom Seaver, Duke Snider, Warren Spahn, Don Sutton, Ozzie Smith, Billy Williams, Dave Winfield
Now, I'm sure that they have the best of intentions, although it makes me wonder why the letter had to be open and could not have simply been sent to the respective parties. But this is the last thing that is needed at this point. To end the talks and reach an agreement, both sides have to think that the other is united and bargain accordingly. If this letter creates the slightest bit of doubt in the owners' minds as to the solidarity of the players (I know they are retired, but they have an influence and they have connections with active players), then the owners will look for an opportunity to exploit it. They will try to call the players' bluff and get ready for a siege (remember the NBA negotiations?). Besides how do they know if the mediator will come to a fair and equitable agreement for both parties. He could do just like King Solomon proposed and divide the baby down the middle to no ones' liking.
A lot of these players should know better. They have been through periods of labor strife in their careers. This could also be seen as disingenuous given that what the players negotiate will affect the players' pension fund, from which a number of these men certainly draw a paycheck. Maybe it's not a big deal if you have a plaque in Cooperstown and can get paid accordingly when you make public appearances. But for their ex-teammates who were not so fortunate, these men should screw up their pride and their souvenir businesses and stand in line with the players, no matter how unpopular that stand may be. Being actually, and not just seemingly, heroic often is unpopular.