the tragic demise of baseball

The rainout of Sunday night's World Series game really pissed me off. It was, I think, illustrative of several problems in the institution of professional baseball. For one thing, baseball shouldn't even be played this far into the harvest. We're already a month into Fall! A game whose source is found in the rhythms of agricultural society should stay connected to those rhythms. If it were three weeks ago, the weather would typically be much better -- even if it rained, at least it wouldn't be 40 frickin' degrees outside. I have hit baseballs in weather like that and it hurts every bone in your body.

I also think it ridiculous that the games don't get started until 8:30 PM. I understand that this is to maximize advertising revenue, but it also shuts out the kids and probably a lot of casual fans as well.

In short, baseball is being run to maximize current profit at the expense of longer-term health of the organization. Sounds like a typical problem in our society, and I think it is. If there's one thing American institutions suck at more than anything else, it is long-term planning.

Baseball also looks a lot like the rest of corporate America in that it's totally in bed with the government. Putting aside the sweetheart property and tax deals that the franchises get from the local governments, professional baseball is actually a protected monopoly that's effectively regulated through Congress, who allows the enterprise to be run by a dictator for life.

None of this is very appealing, but it would be bearable if it didn't directly interfere in the game so much. What's needed is a sweeping change by the broom of ree-form! Since it is our elected officials who have real control over the game's management, I suggest we appoint a Commissioner of the game who would implement the following modest changes:

1. Affordable tickets-- tickets are either $10 (infield) or $5 (outfield). No season tickets -- the good seats have to be shared.

2. Cheap food and drinks--since the stadiums are built by the taxpayers, make it a buck for a beer or a dog.

3. Who's going to pay for all that lost revenue? The players! Implement a single salary system: $10,000 per game per player flat salary (that's $1.62 million for a full season). Full health and (minimal) retirement bennies for life after five years in the game.

Imagine the limits this would put on free agency! Rather than rooting for an empty brand-name logo, we'd actually have some team continuity from year to year. The stars would make their money from endorsements (or play football) and the fans could afford to actually take their families to the games more often.

Oh, and for the owners:
4. Games start at 6 PM local time (except day games, of course). Most kids could manage to make it through the ninth.

5. No more revenue sharing. Of course the Yankees should be more valuable than the Brewers! If Bud Selig doesn't like it, then he should buy the damn Yankees! With my salary cap, it's not like he'd need it anyway.

Think all of this is silly? Well, the fact that baseball is run as a quasi-socialist enterprise is pretty silly in my mind. Better to open it up completely or go whole hog and socialize it. Sort of like the problems we're experiencing in American business as a whole. We sure do suck at long-term planning, and baseball's slow demise is as good of proof as any.


william said...

I totally agree! I know that money is the chief factor but " let's me real! We need to shorten the play-off. A 3 game series with the wild card. A five game divisional series and none to those stupid days off. Another idea would just to take the best 8 teams period and have a playoff.