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August 18th, 2002

Another Year, Another Strike

Ho hum. We’re on the edge of another baseball strike and, apparently, it’s still big news in places – it was the topic of discussion on this morning’s Face the Nation.

But every time this happens, my gut reaction is to wonder why it’s big news in the first place. According to the article above, there’ve been 9 work stoppages since 1972 – basically, within the lifespan of both Ryan and I. I remember a few of them, but after the most recent strike in the mid-90s I lost a lot of interest. I still occasionally go to games, and did enjoy the McGuire-Sosa home run race a few years back, but baseball has lost much of its appeal to me.

I feel that baseball is just too damn expensive, and strikes like this make the players look like schmucks – even if they’re not at fault. Even if the owners are at fault, the fans don’t go out to ballgames to watch them sit around a conference table with Bud Selig. They go to watch the game. And what’s interesting is that even though these strikes are occurring on a more frequent basis, people still return to the game. Numbers may go down a bit, but they’re still pretty strong. Why’s that? I think it all boils down to one reason: people strongly associate baseball with America.

And, so long as there is a sense of the game underneath the layers of marketing, corporate sponsorship, billion-dollar payrolls, and debates over the price of a $7 Budweiser, people will continue to attend. Interestingly, that’s almost never noted by the news; instead, the news covers the angle of why this is happening from a business perspective. But what if the reason people go back has nothing at all to do with business? What if business interests finally get our collective goat, and we turn to minor leaguers for our baseball entertainment?

Perhaps baseball shouldn’t be a business anymore. Perhaps we should choose to support local teams, smaller regional clubs – many with players that have a real love for the game, and are paid fairly. But not multimillion dollar athletes who work for multibillion dollar owners in an enormous monolith of an industry. Baseball can and should be about the game, at its core. Major League Baseball gets in the way of that.

But, that’s America today.

Posted in Miscellaneous

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