he All-Star game ended earlier this week, marking the mid-point of the baseball season here in the US. I am–as many of you know–a sports fan. More specifically, I am an American sports fan. Every game I watch and enjoy is uniquely American: Basketball, football, and of course baseball. Not that I don’t watch hockey or soccer or rugbyn or tennis, but they don’t get my juices running like football or baseball.
Now football is alive and kicking, but the fortunes of baseball have declined significantly over the past 20 years or so. Many have pointed to the fact that baseball is just too long. The games are long and the seasons are long. Are 162 games too many? I don’t think so. Football is far to physical to be more than it is. Basketball, I think, can be short because the good players/teams can still be determined in that timeframe. But in baseball, the good teams are not so obvious in say 81 games (half the season). This is a sport that deifies players that hit the ball 30% of the time. Is there a sport that honors a player for a 30% sucess rate? If you hit only 30% of your shots in basketball, you’re benched. If you complete 30% of you passes, you’re cut. Baseball players are judged at such a low rate of success–and their teams succuss/failure hinges on this success–I think it probably takes longer to get an accurate read with regard to which player/team is the best.
The other point is the length of the game itself and its leisurely pace. Many point to the speed and excitement of football and basketball–and I whole heartedly agree that they are fun to watch; I’m a college football junky–but that is not the reason for baseball’s demise. It’s free agency. The unfettered movement of players denies fans the opportunity to root for players who they feel represent them. While this is true in other sports, the nature of the game–speed, big plays–can overcome this. People can root for the team as well as any player. But in baseball, where the game is leisurely, where you sit in the bleachers with a beer in your hand and talk baseball as much as watch baseball, one needs to know his favorite team, know the players to talk about them, debate about them, and of course root for them.
In LA, the Dodgers from 1973 to 81, had the same infield: Garvey, Lopes, Cey, and Russell at short. The outfield was pretty solid for a number of years with Baker anchored in left, and behind the plate Ferguson and Yeager. They were like cousins. You knew them intimately, albeit not personally. I had many conversations about the team versus other teams, and it was fun to watch any game. Loyalty to a team was based on the loyalty to players. But with free agency, that is gone.
Now, I am no union buster, and the freedom to earn as much as you want is an American right, I suppose. And the fault is as much on ownership as it is to any percieved greed by the players. They did, afterall, treat the players like slaves for many years. But still, I think Kevin Brown makes too much and Alex Rodgrigues makes waaaaaaaaaay too much.
Pallyatheart suggested that I add an audio component to the word. Actually, I had thought of it, but to be honest, I don’t know how to do it. I need a microphone, I know, and I have a place to store the file–like my other music files. But how do I put one of those players that I occasionally see, the ones with a stop/play button. Can anyone help out this antiquated, old geezer?