The baseball season is about to begin, and the voice of salaries can be heard throughout the land.

Never have players been paid as much or have revenues from product endorsements been as high. The numbers are so large that many newspapers are seriously considering taking baseball off the sports pages and having it covered in their business section instead.Has big money changed the game? You better believe it. Just listen in on the conversation from the dugout of the Los Angeles Bandits.

Jim Akers, the manager, tells his team, "Everyone be sharp today. The Fatfree Diet Powder Company is going to do a TV commercial in the dugout, and I don't want any screwing up while my contract renewal is on the table."

He looks down at the players, "McMurtry, you're first at bat."

"I can't, boss. I have to see my broker this afternoon. He wants me to get out of Treasury notes and into something more comfortable."

"McMurtry, you should have done that this morning."

"I was buying apartment houses this morning. I only have two hands."

"Boss, my lawyer wants to know if he can stand next to me at shortstop to discuss a suit we're filing against a thrift that went bankrupt last weekend."

"That's a stupid question, Bowditch, and you know it. Lawyers aren't allowed on the field during the game."

"Not even if there's no one on the bases?"

"OK, I want heads-up ball. Merrill Lynch is thinking of building an entire advertising campaign around the team, and all their big shots are in the stands to make sure that we're bullish on America."

"Rickleberg, there's a little kid out here and he wants your autograph on a baseball card."

"Tell him it will cost him $25, and I don't take personal checks."

Brad Taicher turned to Potsdam sitting next to him and said, "This is a big day for me. Paine Webber is going to take me public."

"You mean, you're being listed on the stock market!" Potsdam exclaimed.

"Part of my contract with the team is that if I hit 40 home runs, they have to make me one of the Fortune 500."

Potsdam said, "I'm only batting 220 on the Dow Jones average. I should never have listened to my brother-in-law when he advised me to invest in Iraqi war bonds."

"Paine Webber wants me to merge my steak house chain with the Kansas City Royals," Taicher told him.

"They say that with our combined assets, we could be the largest steak baseball conglomerate in the league."

"Where's the designated hitter?" Akers yelled.

"He's down here reading The Wall Street Journal."

"Babalew, you're up."

"I lost a bundle on IBM. How can you expect me to hit the ball?"

"Shut up and get on base."

"That's easy for you to say. Don't you ever think of anything besides baseball?"