Friday, August 23, 2002

From The Brain of the Giant Head

Peanuts! Popcorn! Collective Bargaining Agreement!

Ever see the movie "The Sandlot?" It’s about a young lad named Smalls that finds a group of kids who love the game of baseball. They never stop playing the game. Rain, shine, sleet, tidal wave, whatever...they play because they love the game. And while Smalls isn’t perfect and makes mistakes, he still goes out and plays every day -- no matter what.

Aside from my family, friends, and Nacho Cheese Doritos, Baseball is the number one love of my life. I’ve been hitting balls and fielding grounders before I could even say ‘multimillionaire,’ and while I’ve tried to avoid writing about the possible labor strike, I figured with the Walkout Day less than a week away, it was finally time that I covered this dreadful topic:

Millionaires fighting with billionaires and screwing the average person.

Generally a pessimist, I thought from day one of the season that players and owners would sit down and hammer this thing out as quickly and efficiently as possible because 1) It’s in their best interest and 2) I didn’t think they’d be stupid enough to replay the ’94 season. People haven’t forgiven them for that year. Just ask the 10 people that still attend games in Montreal.

Let’s address the problems:

Problem 1: Money. It’s not because players are complaining that $10 million a year isn’t enough, they just want the right to be able to make $25 million a year. It’s not because the owners don’t want to pay $25 million a year, it’s that they don’t want 8 clubs going bankrupt in the process. What the players don’t understand, which, for the first time ever the owners do, is that they can’t charge people $273 per ticket, $9.75 per beer, and $5 to use the bathroom and still expect people to frequent the ballpark.

Problem 2: Competitive Balance. In baseball there are currently four economically categorized types of teams:
Small Market Teams
Middle Market Teams
Large Market Teams
The Yankees
No team in baseball can compete with the Yankees. They have unlimited funds, a monopoly on championships, and an owner willing to cut off his left testicle to win. He’s even willing to throw in the left testicles of other owners if he has to. If you don’t think there’s a competitive imbalance in baseball, find out which team had won 25 out of 100 possible championships in the 1900s. I can promise you it wasn’t the Montreal Expos, Minnesota Twins, or LaSalle Lancers, all of which are economically challenged.

Problem 3: No Cheerleaders. I know this has nothing to do with the labor issue, but it sure would be a nice addition.

Problem 4: Drug Testing. Players say it is against their rights. Using illegal drugs is a ‘right’!?! If I was an owner I’d just walk around the clubhouse grabbing everyone’s package -- if it feels small, he’s probably on steroids. Even if he isn’t, tell the player it feels small and he’ll own up to any excuse you want him to. (Girls, this also works on husbands.)

Are the players and owners going to agree on anything ever? Probably not. Are they stupid enough to not learn from there past mistakes? Most definitely. Will they lower prices so fans can still attend games? You have a better shot at physically sticking your head into a shot glass. So that brings up the real question: Will there be a players strike? I reckon so.

And when they come back from another labor stoppage, will I continue to go to baseball games and watch it on TV? Of course I will. I love the game too much to turn my back on it like the players and owners. Did I mention I also have ‘Sucker’ written across my forehead?

I don’t love the game of baseball because of the players. And I certainly don’t love baseball because of the owners. I love baseball because of the game played between the foul lines, a game where size doesn’t matter and anyone can be a hero. A game I can watch while reminiscing about baseball’s past with my friends. A game where a hot dog tastes better than any other place on earth.

A game meant for kids on the sandlot.