Volume 3, Number 3
Baseball Begins Again
By Dean Shutt
Well it's March again. Spring Training is in full swing in Florida and Arizona. This season, we will welcome two new teams to Major League Baseball, the Tampa Bay DevilRays and Arizona Diamondbacks. Two new cities will be able to have their hopes crushed on a yearly basis. This season will be different in another more strange way though. Normally one of the first questions on everyone's minds would be whether or not the World Series champion Florida Marlins will be able to repeat. That is not the case this year. The Marlins no longer exist in any recognizable form. They have been sold off to the highest bidder piece by piece. This has caused something of an uproar amongst the pundits and the Marlin faithful.
They say that it is a reflection of money is ruining today's game. They say that Wayne Huizenga (the Marlins' owner) is greedy and doesn't care about the fans. They say that it is yet another example of the decline of the game. To this I say bunk. The selling of the Marlins is nothing new. The Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees nearly a hundred years ago so that their owner could mount a Broadway show. Teams like the Pirates, Expos and Twins have made it a practice to sell off their stars as soon as they become too expensive. Wayne Huizenga may indeed be a greedy individual who cares nothing for the fans. That would not make him a special case in professional sports. Besides, what people tend to forget in all of this is that he did spend upwards of 89 million dollars to bring a champion to South Florida. As a fan of the Boston Red Sox I would be thrilled if we had an owner willing to do that. As far as the decline of the game goes, well what can you say about that. The game is not declining, it is becoming less popular, and there is a very big difference between the two.
Baseball has been becoming less popular with each season. The people that run the game have come up with a myriad of ways to halt the slide. Night time world series games, the wild card, radical realignment, interleague play all have been offered up to please us. What they don't seem to realize is that baseball doesn't need these gimmicks and that in the end they will not help. Baseball is a wonderful game. There is no better way I can think of to spend a sunny afternoon. The tradition, the rivalries, and so much more keep me coming to the ballpark year after year. At the same time, I usually wind up at the local minor league park. The setting is more intimate, the games more fun and most importantly the tickets are far cheaper.
What the lords of baseball fail to remember is that with 162 game seasons, it is hard to really plan a trip to the park. Usually it is a spur of the moment trip. A couple of guys sitting around the office decide to take in a game and off they go. When you are charging them fifteen bucks a ticket and six bucks for parking and 20 to 30 dollars if they want to eat and drink you are all but eliminating the unplanned trip. If you are thinking of taking a family you are talking about a two to three hundred dollar evening. Out here in the real world you can take the family camping for a weekend for that amount of money.
Baseball's problems are easily fixable. They have always been easily fixable. Stop charging so much to get into a game and park and eat. Stop paying player 10 million dollars a year to hit .230. Start scheduling more day games so we have an excuse to leave work early. Protect what traditions you have left so you don't alienate the last three fans you have left. It's so simple really, baseball is a nice, slow-moving game that helps you while away a sunny afternoon. All you have to do is bring the fun back to the game and make it more accessible to the casual fan and you will be amazed at how quickly we come rushing back to the sport. Of course, it is far easier to claim it's all the fault of that guy in Miami.