July 17, 2002

Baseball Eats Itself

I went to a baseball game a few weeks ago. We went to see the Texas Rangers play. Boy are they awful. Truly hideous. They can hit alright (and Alex Rodriguez is kind of hot), but their pitching is pitiful, pitiful, pitiful. They were playing the Baltimore Orioles, who aren't a good team either, but they looked like an All-Star team compared to those clowns.

The game itself, despite the awful showing of the home team, was fun to watch. There were some homeruns. We had some overpriced hot dogs. We had room to spread out, and even our cheap seats were pretty good seats. There's still something to be said for America's Pasttime, even if it's no longer quite true.

What's even more hideous than the Rangers is the labor negotiations going on between the owners and the players' union. We're talking both sides that are full of millionaires who just can't keep their greedy paws off more. The owners say they're in dire straits and need concessions from the players to terminate a couple of teams and start sharing among the teams. The players say no way, try that and we'll strike and you'll get nada. They'll do it too. But everytime they strike, and certainly if the strike gets in the way of the World Series again, they lose fans. And if they lose enough fans, the owners won't be able to justify multimillion dollar contracts for the stars anymore because the fans won't be paying for the overpriced hot dogs, not to mention the cheap seats.

It's hard to feel sympathy for any of these people. The owners take advantage of an exemption to anti-trust laws that lets them keep their books secret, and lets the commissioner of baseball go before Congress and lie between his teeth about how awful the accounting is (because the numbers are bad, not because the accountants are bad). Since they won't open their books, there's no way to tell whether they are telling the truth or not about being in dire straits. Most, and the players are included, seem to think they are full of it and just want rich teams, like the Yankees, to help subsidize poorer teams, and that would include most every other team. They say without big fancy stadiums and bigtime TV contracts, the poor teams can't compete. They never seem to be able to explain why it is that plenty of teams with big fancy stadiums (like the Rangers) continue to suck, or why those that don't sometimes manage to do pretty well (check out the Montreal Expos, which is one of the teams the owners want to get rid of, and is in play-off contention this year).

It's equally hard to feel sorry for the players. It's hard to imagine what kind of hardships these guys are enduring when they are in a profession that pays them millions of dollars to travel around 6 months of the year to adoring fans, and take the other 6 months off. If most of them had any business sense at all they could play major league for 5 years, and then retire to Florida forever. Tough life, indeed.

Here's a PFFT! to greedy rich folks who don't know how good they have it and continue their petty disagreements, only to hurt the working class folks who just want to watch a good ballgame.

Published: July 17, 2002
Editor: stacy

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