Here in Redskin heaven, the immediate effect of baseball's return is to save Joe Theismann from a terminal overdose of the TV crazies.
Many of the Redskins spend evenings in the library studying Proust. Some music lovers listen to the Carlisle Philharmonic Orchestra, which comes disguised as a saloon jukebox on Courthouse Avenue.
Joe likes to watch baseball on television. Because of the strike, Theismann has seen only one inning in his 16 days here.
"Japanese baseball," he said, scrunching up his nose as if something foul, a Dallas Cowboy maybe, had just passed by.
"I mean, 'The Munsters' and 'Hogan's Heroes' are good TV shows -- but every night? I wanted to see the Phillies or the Pirates. Or even" -- and this reveals the depths of Joe's suffering -- "the Cubs."
If a poor quarterback is in pain because he can't see the dear Cubbies, what will happen a year from now when a poor third baseman can't see the dear Saints?
The long-range effects of the baseball strike may include a strike in the National Football League. However right baseball players were to strike, the NFL players are a thousand times more godly. In the richest team sport of all, the NFL's are the players worst paid. And the next TV contract Pete Rozelle signs may give each team $10 million a year, up from the current $5.6 million.
Hockey, basketball and baseball players have reasonable freedom to sell their skills to the highest bidder. Football players don't. "There is no such thing as free agency in the NFL," Theismann said, exaggerating only slightly. "And the owners know this can't go on."
"There's a good lesson in the baseball strike for us," said Mark Murphy, the fifth year safety who is the Redskins' union representative. "The baseball players stood together for the whole thing. And that's the only way to get anything. If we stand together, we can get whatever we want."
Such stern talk suggests a contract war with the NFL when the current contract runs out next year. Surely, the NFL owners can't be happy with the work of their baseball brethren.
The baseball owners' negotiator, Ray Grebey, says neither side can claim a victory or need feel defeated in the strike settlement. The players are not as free as they used to be, nor are they as free as they want to be. But neither did the owners get the players back in leg-irons. The movement of free agents that has enriched both players and baseball in general will continue.
More important to anyone who believes team owners have shortchanged the hired hands too long, the players' union refused to be broken.
The owners see big money coming soon from cable and pay television. From the shade of their tax shelters, the owners, being the competitive sharks they are, will reach out for as much of that loot as they can hold. So if they could have broken the players' union on this free-agent issue, the owners would have the cable-pay TV money all to themselves.
Not now. The players have shown great strength. The owners insured themselves for $50 million against a strike (here's a ha-ha "coincidence": the insurance payments were to run out next week). The players had no such sweetheart deal. At an average salary of $172,000, the players' individual losses for the strike come to about $28,000.
The owners must have believed the players would come begging for their paychecks. The owners must have counted on the players being children. What the owners must have believed, primarily, is that the players were boneheaded Ozark Ikes hwo can't see past the front page of The Sporting News.
The real issue in the baseball strike always was the strength of the players' union. The free-agent stuff was a stalking horse. It is no big deal that the players lost another chip off the foundation of their freedom; a Dave Winfield can yet move to the team of his choice, because any team would give up its 25th best man for a superstar. The players can live with that.
They couldn't permit a divisive split in the union, because the owners, when it came time to talk about cable and pay-TV money, properly would assess the union as weak-kneed. The owners then would listen to the players' demands for a fair share of the money created by their rare talents -- and the owners would tell the weak-kneed players, who lost the '81 strike, to shut up and play ball.
The football players' union already has announced its goals: it wants 55 percent of the league's revenue from all sources, and it wants that money distributed to the players according to position and seniority.
"People say, 'How can you ask for that, that's socialistic,'" Murphy said. "We just think our revenue, as players, should grow with the owners'. The money from cable TV will be astronomical. All we're asking for is the same thing the Hollywood writers and directors asked for and got: our fair share of what we create."
Neither Murphy nor Theismann is talking strike.
"The last thing we should think about is a strike," Murphy said.
Theismann: "If I was a baseball fan in Cleveland, when they play the All-Star Game there on Aug. 9, I wouldn't go. A strike in pro sports doesn't do anything except hurt everybody: players, owners and fans. In our situation in football, I don't know the issues yet and to discuss it would be wrong. I just say, take a long look at what happened in baseball. A strike should be only a last resort.