(Musings on the Destruction of the 2002 Baseball Season)
like watching dramatized documentary footage of dinosaurs trying to yank
their enormous frames from a tar pit,
This chic philosophy
that Major League baseball has somehow been irrevocably ruined because
the All-Star Game ended in a tie or the players are jacked up on all
kinds of steroids or no one in the greater Kansas City area could not
give half a shit about the Royals or the New York Yankees are run like
a veracious corporate monstrosity or Ted Williams kids are currently
carving up his frozen corpse for a QVC extravaganza begs argument.
Major League Baseball is already ruined. It happened long before this
year, which hangs by a thread by the way - no matter what the loud,
funny Sportscenter cretins say or the silly nicotine-stained sports
writers send to copy. MLB is run like beer night at the Alabama Commerce
Concern, complete with whooping truckers and a tipsy Jugs Larue. Its
Commissioner is an overt lackey while its Players Association resembles
Hitlers third draft of the Blitzkrieg.`
In 1994 this bawdy combination shut down a $9 billion industry.
The owners couldnt stop themselves from spending our money. The
players couldnt be helped taking it. The result: No World Series.
I was on the frontlines then. Inside the mayhem, bruised by the fallout.
I hosted two sports talk shows, one on radio, one on local television
in Westchester, NY. I was a sports columnist for a solid weekly and
putting the finishing touches on the fourth season of an interview program
celebrating the national pastime called "The X-TRA Inning".
To say the 94 Baseball Lockout fucked me but good is an understatement
of Biblical Proportions.
I had the goods on that bit of public relations propaganda. A lot of
us grungy sports types did. The truth came hard and fast that summer,
and none of it was pleasant. The results of my nightmare can be found
in my second book, so I shant relive its massive wounds again.
The truth is what we learned that dim autumn is that MLB is one of those
strange American institutions like Fast Food Addiction or Puritanical
Voyeurism. Its both spectacle and business. But the business part
keeps the spectacle part solvent, and like most businesses, money is
the only line, bottom or otherwise.
For seventy odd years the owners held fast to the economic hammer.
The past thirty-five or so, the players have kept a powerful grip on
it. Throughout the money flowed, and still flows, regardless what dipshits
like Larry Dolan or Bud Selig or that miserable jack-off who runs the
Arizona Diamondbacks pass off as truth.
Selig, the aforementioned "lackey commissioner" comes out
every few months to claim half the teams are going bankrupt. Then when
the Boston Red Sox franchise was for sale this past winter he teamed
with those floating the interesting notion that selling to the third
highest bidder was "good for the game". When the league spoke
of contracting two teams a few months back - a sober choice considering
these three-martini troglodytes added teams in a gluttonous rampage
of avarice for twenty years to gain a sizable windfall, which nearly
turned high-performance art into the first six minutes of Bull Durham
- Selig suggested that the Montreal Expos and the Minnesota Twins must
Montreal was an interesting choice for a baseball city in 1969, hardly
the heartland of hardball, but a noteworthy attempt to reach out to
our northern neighbors. But when American greed got the best of the
game in 1994, not only did the paltry attendance numbers dive in Montreal,
it plummeted in previously booming Toronto as well. Montreal was a no
brainer to get axed.
Minnesota, however, had a deeper realm of reasoning for the commissioner.
Seems not only does Seligs family own the interest in the Milwaukee
Brewers, a regional competitor of the Twins, but its owner, Carl Pohlad,
is also a close buddy. Pohlad needed to get out of a nasty lease in
the dome his team plays in, and Selig needed more hungry baseball fans
to fill his own shiny new (mostly empty) ballpark.
This bit of fun loving insider trading was not unlike 1994 when Selig
pulled a mass charade of "baseball is doomed" paranoia by
using the relocating interest of California franchise owners and George
Steinbrenners dangling legal troubles to kick-start the coup d'état
that nearly destroyed the game.
Damn it! I tried to stay away from 94, but its getting harder
with every sentence. The mood is about the same these days, but something
in the heart of the game says its not automatic that work another
stoppage will lead to baseballs nuclear winter. Speculation seems
to point to the countrys mood approaching the anniversary of 9/11
and the resulting quagmire economy as reasons why clearer heads will
My own sources, paltry as they are, since I do not skulk around with
the big boys in the game any longer, tell me the horizon is actually
brighter than Im inclined to predict. At least the principles
are agreeing that something needs to be fixed, just that they have no
clue how to fix it.
No matter. The trial for baseball will always be the haves and
have nots. And that shall never die. Not as long as there are
all these teams in cities that do not need, want or deserve baseball.
These people who whine incessantly about how certain teams cannot compete
with New York and Los Angeles and Chicago do not realize that this is
not going to change. And no amount of revenue sharing and luxury tax
and salary caps are going to change that.
Why is it so important that there are teams in Florida or Texas or Ohio?
Less teams means better players available, leading to less money for
the mediocre players. Sane salaries. Liquid franchises. Competitive
balance. Trash the atavistic antitrust exemption and force these owners
to deal with competition in Washington DC, Charlotte or New Jersey,
all lucrative sports areas.
Simple as that.
You see what these pro "small market team" shills will fail
to tell you is if everything were hunky dory these owners would not
take their profits and savings and lower ticket prices or tee shirt
prices or hot dog prices. Nope. Theyd turn around and buy other
interests somewhere and ruin that too. Its what they do. They
cant help it. Its like watching dramatized documentary footage
of dinosaurs trying to yank their enormous frames from a tar pit, painful,
but intriguing in its self-destruction.
Heres whats going to happen. Somewhere along the line this
mess is going to end up in court. It always seems to. Then the players
will win, the owners will eat crow, open the gates and make boatloads
of money. Those who are sick of it will sell their franchises for a
huge profit and the next group will gladly hop aboard to bitch and moan.
Then the Yankees will win the World Series, and everything will be right
with the world; or at least in the Bronx and for those of us up at Fort
© James Campion August 2002
Together Now - Recession
- Mr Reality Check
...the president is some kind of cheap, knock-off of dear old dad and
the crippled American dollar will be the death knell for this one-term
Mid-Summer's Standoff in the Bare Knuckle Jungle
Campion in Washington
'The same people who managed 9/11 bankroll Hammas. They run the deal
over there. Weve known that for some time'.
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