The Daily Punk

March 31, 2008

(It’s Okay to Stop Caring About Baseball Edition)

Here are today’s top stories: Andy Rodick is engaged to a swimsuit model with the awesomely hot/fake name of “Brooklyn Decker,” singer Sean Levert (of “LeVert” fame) is dead, Carnival Cruise annoyant Kathy Lee (of Frank and Cody fame) is going to host the “fourth hour” of the Today show, and today is the start of the baseball season.

Now, be honest, which of those stories do you really give a damn about?

(I thought so Casanova).

Let’s face it…baseball is dead.

Technically the games are still played and it’s more profitable than ever but emotionally? It’s dead. Or more accurately, a zombie. Pump some Thriller out of those stadium speakers and it’ll do a little dance but the limbs are falling off faster than Michael Jackson’s clothes at a waterslide park. (Ouch, that was bad). The American Pastime? Football is more popular. Still looking for Joe DiMaggio? You’ll find him in court suing Simon & Garfunkel. Field of Dreams? With the outrageous salaries and player demands it’s more like “Field of Gold.” Baseball is walking and talking and shooting up but make no mistake…

It’s dead.

So, in light of this once great sport, I am dedicating today’s Daily Punk List of 10 Stories That Seldom Have Anything To Do With One Another to one single topic: Baseball. That’s right. I’m picking the least interesting story of the day and running with it. Why? Because baseball used to be great. Because baseball might be great again. Because you can’t do ten posts on “Cody” and LeVert wasn’t even a one hit wonder.

Brooklyn Decker? Here you go.

Reason # 1: Baseball Isn’t a Sport

Don’t let its inclusion on SportsCenter fool ya dog, Baseball is no longer a “sport.” Sure the individual games pit competitors against one another under the auspices of equally applied rules, blah blah blah but the foundation itself has destroyed what makes it “fair.” And fairness is the essence of sport. Want to know why the NBA is dying? Because of the “Superstar Call.” When Shaq gets four steps but your skinny, punk-ass, tattoo-and-zit encrusted center gets two, the event is no longer a “Sport.” Baseball is less obvious, but equally unfair.

The problem is the economics of the game itself. The American concept of Laissez-faire capitalism may benefit companies but it devastates sport. Take salaries for example. The problem with high corporate salaries is not so much that companies pay their CEOs exorbitant salaries (although that is irritating), it’s that those monies are better invested somewhere else. Theoretically, this should mean that a leaner, better managed company has an economic advantage over the dinosaur. Or it means that the CEO was worth that sum.

In sports, on the other hand, high salaries actually reduce competition. Only a few select teams can afford to pay A-Rod $250 million and still field a competitive team. Every other team gets B-Rod. All things being equal, Team B-Rod will be worse than Team A-Rod. Okay. But it’s the long term impact that is so detrimental. Because your team, on average, has a higher proportion of B-Rods than A-Rods, they win fewer games. This pisses you off so you go less often. Your kids don’t grow up going so they play the Wii instead. Eventually you find they’re playing more Madden than Griffey. Twenty years later they’ll sit in the stands and drink the ESB but they don’t care. End of story.

Free agency and profit sharing (or lack thereof) have rendered pure cash money as the ultimate path to sport success. But cash money is not competition. As explained by the author Stephen Moore:

The unique American formula of individual Liberty and free enterprise has cultivated risk taking, experimentation, innovation, and scientific exploration on a grand scale that has never occurred anywhere before.

Baseball’s system does nothing to promote these goals. Innovation, planning, risk-taking are meaningless. “Innovate” all you want, Yunievsky Bettancourt isn’t going to hit 50 home runs this year. Worse, if he does, he’ll leave. The rules decree that the teams in the biggest cities have more money and are allowed to spend it as they see fit. The Yankees spend money idiotically yet they make the playoffs almost every year.

This does not enhance competition. In the business world the Yankees exorbitant spending would give them no advantage. Microsoft has far more money than Apple yet they lose every time they go head to head. Apple is able to make up that cash disadvantage through innovation, efficiency, and experimentation. These are concepts that are worthless in baseball. A company stationed in Kansas City can compete because Factory-Worker-Dude can buy a house for the $20 per hour he makes in Missouri. But gold-plated bidets cost the same whether you’re in Wichita or Manhattan so — all things being equal — A-Rod will take New York.

Reason #2: The League Doesn’t Care About The “Real Fans”

As a result of this unending drive for dollars baseball has been forced to court the corporate and comfort crowd; people who do not care about the game. With the possible exception of basketball (which literally prefers smaller arenas with larger corporate boxes), there is no other sport that relies on such a disinterested fanbase.

Fifty years ago the start of baseball season would result in an Army of dungaree wearing ragamuffins gathering outside the yard to catch a dinger. “Ahh nuts Spanky, the old nine rung up another stinker!” the kids would exclaim. Today? The fanbase is thirty year old Moneyball-quoting ad execs drunk on microbrews. These aren’t “fans,” they’re corporate hipsters more interested in downloading stats on their iPhone than actually watching the game. The true fans — the “die hards” — are fewer in number every year. And more and more these guys avoid actually going to the game. If the prices don’t drive him off the OPS-spouting snark in 128-36-J will.

Don’t buy into the MLB hype about attendance going through the roof; postseason ratings tell the true tale. They decline every single season. Why? Because stat-man is interested in quarterback ratings now and ballpark attendance doesn’t correllate with fan interest.

Not good.

Reason #3: No Leadership

The fact that the Greatest Player in the History of the Game is a chemically crafted dick has been covered. The fact that a ton of other players have been implicated as well is merely more taint on an otherwise corrupt game. The entire world seems to agree that these guys should be kicked out or otherwise punished. So what does the league do?

Nothing.

This is insane but hardly surprising. Hell it took a special commission of Congress to actually bring these facts to the fore because baseball had absolutely no desire to police itself. Commissioner Selig is so soulless and weak he not only didn’t kick Bonds out of the league, he actually showed up to applaud his home run record.

Reason #4: The Players are Personality-less Asses

Finally the players are assholes. I used to work for the Mariners so I can confirm that very few players are decent people. For every good guy like Edgar Martinez there were no less than nineteen arrogant assholes like A-Rod. They shun interviews, mock the fans, grab money at every turn, and fuck every decent chick in town. They suck.

But the worst of it is they have no character. Bonds has no remorse about destroying the sport he grew up in. Johnny Damon says he’s a quirky, interesting guy then flees for the hairless confines of Yankee Stadium. Clemens lies to Congress. A-Rod tries to fuck Canseco’s girl, the stories never end.

It didn’t used to be this way. Baseball is festooned with great players who were both good and interesting. Babe Ruth was too drunk to bone your girl. Jackie Robinson endured taunts and slurs to open doors for African-Americans. Henry Aaron received death threats but valiantly played on. And do you really think this guy would have accepted Steinbrenner’s facial hair ban?


https://i2.wp.com/sports.blogue.canoe.com/mediam/SPO-RollieFingers%5B2%5D.jpg

Hell no he wouldn’t.

Conclusion

“Freedom,” as John Milton once told Keanu, “is never having to say you’re sorry.” After that he did a weird little dance step thing and mugged for the camera. It wasn’t Pacino’s best performance but at least it was entertaining.

Too bad baseball can’t say the same thing.

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