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1:26 PM Mon, Feb. 18th

Column: Greedy MLB cuts its own throat

I'm absolutely certain that the following is a sign that the apocalypse is upon us. Major League Baseball has begun to tell the uniform suppliers of Little League Baseball to stop using MLB team names, or it will bring civil action against them in court.

When it comes to making money in the short term, MLB is no dummy. A little league can still use MLB names if, and only if, the little league purchases its uniforms from Majestic Athletic, one of four official brand shops of MLB.

If MLB thought that the little leagues around the country would simply succumb to its threats, well, in the immortal words of Judas Priest, they had "Another Thing Coming." Apparently, MLB began putting Little League Baseball under its thumb in Illinois.

Tinley Park, Bloomingdale and Chicago Ridge Little Leagues have stopped using major league names entirely, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Tinley Park uses town names now, and Bloomingdale uses plain old colors. Chicago Ridge has adopted college names to stay out of MLB's way.

I think MLB is cutting off its nose to spite its face. As a giant business, MLB possesses a vast amount of goodwill with the names of its teams. Now that the league is putting its foot down to stop Little League teams from using these same names, MLB is mortgaging its future earnings potential to get the most dollars today.

When its fan base shrinks in years to come, MLB won't have to look any further than this bonehead decision.

If it wasn't for my Little League experience, I'm fairly certain that the Cleveland Indians would be on my "Couldn't Care Less" list.

That would put them on par with the Marlins, Mariners, Royals, Orioles, etc. It's because of Little League that I care.

Back in the day when I played in Kingman Little League, I was on the Indians for three seasons.

My first year, I played a lot of third base, and on game day when I put my uniform on hours before having to leave my house, I would instantly turn into Buddy Bell. I wore an Indians uniform back then, therefore, I was an Indian.

I never would have cared that Len Barker's perfect game for the Indians in 1981 was disrespected by Sports Illustrated had it not been for Little League. "Super" Joe Charboneau would have been nothing but a flash in the pan in my baseball history book had I not played for the Indians. Cliff Lee of the current-day Indians is one of my favorite pitchers, who I have been following since I first saw him pitch on television. There's a part of me that liked him because he's an Indian.

Though I may have still owned a Cleveland Indians cap because MLB caps are fun for me, it wouldn't be a must-have had I not played for the Indians back in those baseball-informative days of Little League. Because I was an Indian back then, I own an Indians cap today.

That's the big picture that MLB is missing in its pursuit for the almighty dollar today. The kids playing Little League today are the wallets of tomorrow. If MLB succeeds in forcing Little Leagues around the country to pay more for its uniforms or not use MLB names, the days of local sponsors being team names for Little League will reappear.

That doesn't sound like a bad idea, as it would give Little League Baseball more of a local flavor, but MLB is clearly missing the boat. When I played in the minors division, I played for a plumbing company in Bayonne, N.J., before I moved to Kingman. In Kingman, when I played in what is called today the juniors division, I played for Hualapai Fire Department and the Lion's Club. I don't own a plumbing, an HFD or a Lion's Club cap. But I do own an Indians cap.

Maybe I'm missing the boat. Perhaps my owning an Indians cap is a sign that the apocalypse is upon us.