Baseball strike merits major yawn

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 22, 2002

Don't look now, but our beloved, steroid-induced Major League Baseball players are at it yet again.

If for some reason you have not been keeping up, the players union recently set an Aug. 30 strike date if their latest set of absurd demands are not met, and meanwhile, owners, as per usual, are seemingly clueless about how to handle a sport which has apparently become broken beyond repair.

And who will be left to suffer once again if there is another sustained work stoppage, perhaps a stoppage that might wipe out another World Series, but the fans.

Or the fans that actually still care about the game.

While some continue to maintain romantic, warm and fuzzy feelings about our "National Pastime," the game is simply not what it used to be, in terms of the actual quality of play, or the spirit of the people who actually play the game.

The game itself, which has always been a splendid one to watch, because of its ebb and flow and its various games within a game, has become a watered down version of Home Run Derby, with more and more ballparks constructed now to accommodate pumped-up sluggers, with brilliant pitching performances now a rarity.

The Cal Ripkens, Joe Dimaggios, Hank Aarons and Stan "The Man" Musials that made the game such a special one and inspired youngsters with their heroic efforts and their obvious love of the game have been replaced by obscenely-overpaid athletes such as Alex Rodriguez and smug, arrogant jocks such as Chipper Jones and Tom Glavine who inspire nothing but anger and jealousy from the common working man who cannot afford to take his family to a ballgame anymore.

There are so many problems plaguing baseball right now, it is hard to know where to start, but the fact that Commissioner Bud Selig is an inept stooge and the fact that the players and owners are victims of their own arrogance and greed are two good places to start.

Then of course you can also throw in the enormous disparity between major market franchises, such as the New York Yankees and small and even mid-sized markets like Minnesota and Pittsburgh, and the issue of steroids currently plaguing the sport.

And of course while baseball's current woes are a source of great pain for those who actually still revere the sport, for fans like yours truly who still enjoy baseball, but not with the same feelings I used to have for the game, news of another possible, and more likely probable, work stoppage, basically elicits more of a yawn than anything else, and for one simple reason.

Football is back.

Although right now we are seeing just a few scattered exhibition NFL games and a few early-season college affairs, the presence of actual football games is certainly enough for many to bid adieu to baseball and it's problems.

The minute that football begins, the baseball season basically ends for me, although I usually will catch back up with baseball in time to watch the World Series.

I am not alone in these thoughts and there is no doubt football supplanted baseball years ago in terms of TV ratings and attendance.

The powers that be who run baseball need to keep this fact in mind when contemplating this next work stoppage, as there is a good chance fans will no longer be willing to return to baseball following another stoppage.

After the last such stoppage of play, baseball was fortunate to have the Cal Ripken consecutive game streak record, the Sammy Sosa/Mark McGwire home run chase and the construction of a host of new ballparks to slowly but surely bring fans back.

I have to wonder what will bring the fans back this time.

Stan J. Griffin is a reporter and columnist for, The Andalusia Star-News.