Editor's note: Each professional race team has someone (known affectionately in the media as a PR flack) who is responsible for sending out press information about the team and how they are doing. Their job is to get the drivers', owners' and (especially) the sponsors' names in as many media and in front of as many faces as possible. If your team isn't doing especially well on the track, it is sometimes a challenge to find the 'hook' for the article.
We wanted to share this with DRO readers and thought our "Off the
Track" column was the perfect location. We want to commend Mopar PR
man David Harris on his creativity and Dean Skuza on his well-rounded
Skuza Talks Candidly About Baseball; Impending Strike Concerns Mopar NHRA Funny Car Driver
CLERMONT, Ind. (Aug. 28, 2002) -- When Dean Skuza isn't handling his 7,000-horsepower Mopar Parts Dodge Stratus R/T Nitro Funny Car, the Brecksville, Ohio, resident enjoys watching the Cleveland Indians chase another American League title. But an impending strike from Major League Baseball's players union on Aug. 30, could put an abrupt end to that enjoyment.
The following is a question and answer session with Skuza, who is also preparing for the 48th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park; the Super Bowl for the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Skuza, like many baseball fans, is concerned about the future of the sport.
Q: WHY DOES THE IMPENDING MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL STRIKE CONCERN YOU?
SKUZA: "This is going to be like their eighth work stoppage. I just don't think they are negotiating very well. I don't understand how you can have that many grievances. The Teamsters, probably the wildest union ever created in this country, didn't have this many strikes. I sure hope they sort it all out. I don't know whom I side with. I can understand the baseball owner's standpoint and I can understand the player's points. Half of me says, 'Hey, the players should get what they can get.' If a guy is going to pay Alex Rodriguez millions and millions of dollars, he has to do it with the thought he's going to make money off of this in attendance or whatever. Then the same guy, who gave him the contract, considers Rodriguez to be overpaid.
It's a bad business decision. There are two sides to every story though. The big picture is that there isn't going to be baseball anymore. I feel bad for all the fans that have teams that are in contention. It happened with the Indians in 1992. We were on our way to winning 100-plus games that year and the stoppage hit us. From a personal stand point, it doesn't really matter because the Indians are rebuilding. Let them strike."
Q. WHAT ABOUT YOUR FAVORITE BASEBALL CLUB, THE CLEVELAND INDIANS?
SKUZA: "What's ironic, at least for Indian1s fans, is that it will help the Indians in the long run. The minor league players will still be playing, which they need to keep doing. And the Indians have a very young team. It caught me by surprise when, all of a sudden, (Cleveland Indians owner Larry) Dolan traded these players all over the place. He completely deviated from what his initial plan was. When he came in he wanted to make a really good pitching staff. Then they got rid of (Bartolo) Colon and everyone like that.
I think he (Dolan) knew that this (strike) was coming. I think that even if the work stoppage is only for two weeks, it will take three to four years to recoup attendance. It's going to effect attendance across the board. But it's a smart move to rebuild now. If you knew a strike was coming, like I think a lot of the owners did, it would be stupid to have a high payroll this year and try to make post season play; when there probably isn't going to be a post season. So it's the perfect time to rebuild because other clubs did it too."
Q. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE PROLONGED 1994 STRIKE?
SKUZA: "I originally thought that it wasn't going to affect things as much as it did. If it's going to be inevitable, it's kind of interesting to sit back and watch. I remember when the NFL strike happened. The owners actually broke that union pretty well by hiring all of these scrubs. It was kind of a novelty and it was fun to watch. I wonder if baseball will do that? I think that's what needs to happen."
Q. WHAT WILL HELP THE GAME OF BASEBALL?
SKUZA: "I really don't have a good answer. I would like to see a little
bit more parity, but I don't know how to achieve that. New York is a
huge market. New York was a huge market way back in 1920. They have
an overwhelming advantage just because they have more people. Their
television package is big. Just the advertising revenue is large. How
does a team like Montreal compete with that? If I was a baseball owner,
there's no way in hell that I'd ever own the Expos. It would be a dumb
thing to do. How in the hell would I be able to compete with Boston,
Cleveland, New York and some of these larger markets. I just wouldn't
own that team. I'd save my pennies until I could buy a team like Boston."
Copyright 1999-2002, Drag Racing Online and Racing Net Source