Baseball strike: who cares?
According to the Major League Baseball (MLB) players’ union, an average player salary of $2.8 million per year is not enough to live on. As President George W. Bush said the other day, “If the players strike, million of fans will be furious and I will be one of them.”
While this observer is generally in agreement with our commander-in-chief, it is difficult to get excited or furious over MLB which has become so watered down and is, all too often, so poorly played.
For sure, MLB has its problems. The teams in the major media markets can rake in huge amounts of advertising dollars, which they can spend to buy the talent that leads to world championships. The New York Yankees are a prime example. The exception is the current World Champion Arizona Diamondbacks. But that team requires large infusions of investor cash to keep going.
Contrast MLB with the National Football League (NFL) which is so competitive that one never knows from year-to-year which teams will be in the Super Bowl. A combination of revenue sharing, along with annual football draft system that favors the lower ranking teams, is what keeps the NFL so economically fit and the competition so intense. MLB needs to follow the NFL example.
Meanwhile, too many MLB players do not know how to play the game. Of course, the American League has its perverted designated hitter rule. But that’s another story.
When this observer was of baseball-playing age, we had a wonderful coach named Wade Moore. When he settled in our hometown, Mr. Moore was way up in years. He had played in the big leagues back when they didn’t use gloves. Many of his fingers had been broken more than once and some of his fingers stuck out at odd angles. When he wasn’t donating his time to coach Babe Ruth wannabes, Mr. Moore custom made bats for a select clientele of big-name players of the time, such as Johnny Mize.
He taught us to always get into position to field the ball on the same side as our throwing arm. He taught us to bunt by holding the bat horizontal with our fingertips and to step out over the plate and to place the bat between our bodies and the on-coming ball. He taught us to visualize, in advance, what we would do if the ball were hit to our position what to do with it. We were taught to execute our responsibilities at top speed and that included running on and off the field.
Thanks to his teachings, all of us could come up with a groundball with a flowing motion that made the catching and throwing seem seamless. When ordered to bunt, we hardly ever failed to place the ball on the ground just where it was supposed to be. Self preservation meant you had to intercept the ball with your bat or be hit with it. Unlike some MLB players we see today, we were rarely caught flat-footed wondering what to do with the ball. Every time the ball was put in play every player had something to do, even if the ball was hit to the other side of the field.
Today, you can see MLB players catching the ball far away from their throwing side and having to bring the ball across their bodies before they can get into position to throw it. Many of today’s high-paid players can’t bunt because they are apparently afraid to step out into the line of fire and knock the ball down. You see them walking on and off the field.
We played with steel spikes and were taught to slide into the bases with those spikes flying. Today’s players wear wimpy sneakers with little rubber nipples instead of metal spikes. Unlike NFL players, a rainstorm or heat or cold sends MLB players into hiding.
Strike? They’ve got to be kidding.
William Hamilton, a nationally syndicated columnist and featured commentator for USA Today, is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy by William Penn – a novel about a terrorist attack designed to kill the American and Russian Presidents and also destroy Colorado’s water reservoirs.
©2002. William Hamilton.