Can Baseball Be Returned To Its Former glory?
connection Between Corruption and Baseball's Decline
What has happened that is causing the once impervious game pf baseball to cause once zealous fans to now collectively snore in their seats? If there is anyone sitting in the next seat, that is. Even in big games, crowds of fans wander or stand around as if there is nothing better to do.
Except when the star home run hitter goes up to bat, suddenly fans are running back to their seats. These fans have come to see the long ball--the home run that is a game winner, or to see the ball hit into San Franciso Bay. You can see expentant trophy collectors huddled in their little rowboats in the rain. There to find the million dollar ball, rather than donate the ball to posterity, they settle the age old question: Is baseball a game or a business?
If it wasn't for the revenue sharing clause in major league baseball, somne teams would disappear overnight, bankrupt from a lack of fans, a lack of interest, and resistance against change, citing "tradition," "love of the game the way it is," and the acceptance of individual players cheating with steroids.
Finally, embarrassing disclosures by pumped up players who were formerly average, disclosed that their records were a result of the use of illegal, performance enhancing steroids. U.S. fans are known to hate losing. worse is their reaction to the notion of winning by cheating. But a remarkable number of fans whined that it is " wrong to take away the records, trophys, and championships resulting from the use of drugs." All they could think of is how dull the game would be without the inevitable home run contest coming down the home stretch.
Baseball was the game for everyman, handing out free parking, generous portions of good tasting food, and almost unlimited access to the beer concessions. Cheap seats with good views of the pitcher and catcher were a given. It was a chance for pop to take his kids and maybe some others too, out to a major league baseball game. It was cheap, fun, and it was exciting.
At one time it was argued successfully in the courts that baseball is not a business but a game. This decision made it possible for club owners to freeze player salaries and hold them to the original contract though another team might be willing to pay five times as much for the same player. A player who came up from the minors and outplayed the veterans might get a bonus of a few hundred dollars. His original rookie salary was capped at $15,000.
That has all changed as players convinced the courts to recognize free agency. Clubs are now forced to bid on free agents. Salaries typically are in the millions for a player who once might command a hundred thosand dollars. Owners have controlled new players into a draft system, that favors teams that are weaker.
Super-stars like Babe Ruth played in old Yankee Stadium, with its infamous seats behind pillars and the famous statues of former Yankee players way out in center field. It was old but it had class and style. Excitement grew as great hitters took advantage of the 190 foot home-run, right field line.
Fans loved the cheap bleacher seats, cheap beer, and cheap hotdogs. You didn't need a weeks wages to take the family to a the ball game. Compare that with the prices charged in the new ball parks.
Teams that get into the world series don't play the games at their home fields. Now they play in stadiums that help them to maximize profits(Anyone still think baseball is a game?) Important home games are blacked out from local TV viewing, always to maximize profit.
Baseball still captures the imagination of those who could not followi another sport in the summer months. (See: 'The boys of Summer' by Jim Bowden. Available at Amazon.com. The sport has a chance to vitalize itself. This writer is in favor of creating a lobby in the commissioners office as a watchdog or adisory body to monitor against drug use, as well as work with owners representatives to maintain agreed upon standards.
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