Tagged: red sox

Everything Baseball Should Be: And Everything Baseball is Not

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Michael Wilbon, co-host of ‘Pardon the
Interruption’ (ESPN – 5:30PM EST) is my favorite sports writer in the world. He
tells it like it is, doesn’t shy away from his north-side Chi-town allegiance
and he isn’t afraid to get to the heart of the issue. His opinions are justified
and he always seems to look at the big picture.

Most of the time, I agree with him.

This time, however, I do not.

Last week, when the Yankees signed CC
Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, a topic was brought up by the president of the
Florida Marlins, David Samson. He is quoted as saying that the Yankees’
offseason strategies are ridiculous and giving CC Sabathia a $161 million
contract is a bad move for the franchise. Both Michael Wilbon and his co-host,
Tony Kornheiser, bashed Samson for this statement and said that the Yankees’
duty (hehehe… duty) is to the fans, and as such, thir responsibility is to put
the best team on the field.

HOLD ON A MINUTE!

I may be a young man, but I have been around
baseball my whole life. Yes, the Yankees loyalty should be to the fans and to
some extent, it is; on the surface, at least. Yankess fans love it when they
sign a brand new all-star free agent who is romanticized as being the savior of
the franchise and will bring them back to their winning ways. From this
perspective, yes, the loyalty is to the fans.

But lets look at this from a different
perspective:

So far this off-season, the Yankees have
spent, let’s see: $161 million + $82.5 million รท 5, carry the…………….. = about
$242.5 million over the next 5 – 6 years. Couple that with the new stadium they
just build (which there was no real reason for except to bring more attention
to them) and you have something along the lines of $1.8 BILLION. That’s… a lotta
meatballs, some may say.

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Where, pray tell, do you think this money is
coming from? The Steinbrenners? HA! They may tell you that, but where does it
really come from?

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You guessed it. YOU GUYS!

How, Michael, is this activity in loyalty to
the fans who filled the OLD Yankee Stadium for the last 80 years? While ticket
prices, hot dog prices, beer prices, foam finger prices, cotton candy prices,
and souvenir prices will certainly rise, where does this put your everyday fan
who just so happens to be in the middle of a recession right now?

In Philly, we’re sweating over ticket price increases of $10-$15. I would hate to see what’s going to happen in the Bronx.

Nice work, Hal… You too, Hank!

Give me a break. The Yankees care nothing
about the fans, only that they spend their money to come watch the team. What
the Steinbrenners care about is ego; nothing else.

If they really cared about the fans, they
wouldn’t have four players making an excess of $20 million a season. If they
really cared about the fans, they would hire someone who knows how to build a
TEAM. Any idiot can write big checks and offer the world to whoever happens to
be the best on the market that winter, but it takes a true baseball mind to
build a championship team. The Yankees front office collectively doesn’t have
half the baseball knowledge of this man.

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Since 2000 (The last Yankee championship):
Arizona, Anaheim, Florida, Boston, Chicago, St. Louis, Boston and Philadelphia
have all won championships as a TEAM. A concept lost in New York City.

This is not a new concept, though. The Yankees just don’t want to learn. Just look at USA Basketball from 1999 – 2007. If you read down the roster, there was more talent on the Team USA Baseketball team than the rest of the world teams combined. They were all-stars, all of them. But they weren’t a team and thereby failed. They couldn’t play as a team until they were forced to at least practice together for three years, and even then, had to rally late against Spain to win the gold.

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I want to root for the Yankees. I really do.
For everything they were in the past and everything they meant to baseball.
They were America’s team back then, and made baseball fans out of a lot of
people.

Now, the Yankees represent everything wrong
with baseball and everything baseball shouldn’t be. As much of a fan of a
Yankees I want to be, I can’t. I can’t because I’m too much of a fan of the
sport of baseball, and everything baseball SHOULD be.

The State of Baseball Address

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Ok, so I’m in a little bit of a political mood.

President-Elect Barack Obama is going to deliver the State of the Union Address
for the next four years, so I thought I’d begin my own “State of Baseball
Address.”

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Oddly enough, I see a lot of similarities between baseball and the U.S. right
now and not all of them are good. If you think about it, I think what’s wrong
with the economy right now is almost parallel to the problems Major League Baseball
has faced since 1994. Like the government, MLB officials have been adamant about
sticking to old philosophies and hoping they will eventually work the way they
should. Bush said that the economy’s “fundamentals” are good, but that’s just
it. The fundamentals are good, but everything else isn’t.

Major League Baseball’s lack of a salary cap is similar
to the free market system. Each team is a separate business free to do what it
likes. Teams in small markets like Kansas City and Tampa Bay struggle to
compete while the mammoths like New York, Boston and LA can freely afford
hundreds of millions to field the best teams. Every so often you get a team like the ’08 Rays or the ’94 Expos who can compete with a good core and young talent. But eventually, Longoria, Upton, Crawford and Pena will want more money that Tampa Bay can’t afford. So their time of glory is short-lived.

 

Is it fair? Absolutely.

Just? Of course.

Does it benefit everyone? Hell no.

 

Teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Giants, Philles
and Mets that run in big markets don’t want a change because the current system
is slanted in their favor. Kind of like the so called fundamentally sound U.S.
economy that gives tax breaks and incentives to huge companies. But if you want
to look at a league that is beneficial as a whole, look at the NFL.

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 If Major League Baseball is the U.S., then the NFL is
Europe. No one team has any advantage over another economically and every year,
the playing field starts off level. They share revenue evenly across the board
like free healthcare for everyone. Anyone can compete year in and year out. In
the NFL, you have a Tampa Bay Rays team every year, it’s called the NFC South.

 

As much as I am a baseball purist, I want to see the
whole league benefit. Baseball used to be
America. World Series scores used to make front page news over world wars.
When women were called on to save the factories, they were called on to save
baseball too. (Seriously, they made a movie about it!)

 

Somehow, though, baseball has been surpassed as the
nation’s sport of preference. Why? Because it’s a lot more fun for everyone
when your team has a good chance to win every season. Teams like Tennessee and
New Orleans have a legitimate chance of winning, and even one or two down years
usually lead to a few years on the high.

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 Baseball purists want to keep the game the way it is, and that includes Bud Selig. How long, though, are baseball fans going to accept the excuse for major fundamental flaws as “part of the game”? 

It’s time to level the playing field somehow. A salary cap alone won’t solve the problem, because teams like the Yankees will find a way to offer players $140 million bonuses. Maybe caps on offers? Caps on bonuses? How about every trade or free agent has to go through waivers so each team has a chance to make an offer instead of going right for the big markets.

I don’t know the answer, but I am willing to work on one. There needs to be one.

 

With the economy the way it is, it seems criminal for any team to spend that kind of money on one person. Men who work an assembly line are struggling to feed their children while guys like Sabathia and Manny are about to cash in big-time for playing a sport. That concept gets lost sometimes, but it never goes away.

 

Maybe it’s time baseball took a step forward and joined
the 21st century.

Maybe it’s time America did the same.

~SL

It’s EASY Being a Yankees Fan

No offense Jane, your Yankees are one of the top 5 greatest franchises in the history of sports. In fact, if you put the Yankees against Denmark in anything, I’d pick the Yankees.

But it’s easy being a Yankees fan.

It’s easy because it doesn’t take any work.
There’s no agony in being a Yankees fan, no frustration, no heartbreak.
And please… Not winning the world series every year doesn’t qualify as “heartbreak.”

They’re winners, and Yankees fans are passionate, I’ll give you that much.
But talk to a Cubs fan, talk to a Sox fan prior to ’04, most of all, talk to a Phillies fan.

Cubs fans have come to the point where they’re selling their loyalty on EBAY.
Red Sox nation had gotten to a place where they expected to lose, and the phrase “wait until next year” lost all meaning.
Phillies fans, though, had a different dynamic.

We can’t always be called as “supportive.” When our teams aren’t playing well, we let them know. But we’re always there, and we always believe. This year’s championship was a surprise to no one in the city of Philadelphia, we knew it would happen, we just didn’t know when.  We never gave up, never game in, never assumed the worst.

The Yanks have had problems the last few years. But who else can you blame but the Yankees themselves. For some inexplicable reason, their entire team dynamic has all but disappeared and their solution to the problem is the same every year. It’s like a doctor who keeps prescribing a medicine for a disease when it hasn’t worked the last eight times he prescribed it.

Why, I don’t know. But this year looks to be exactly the same thing. They’re probably going to sign CC Sabathia, maybe Mark Texieira and who knows, Manny as well. What the hey? Why not, right? But based on the last few seasons, I don’t think anything will change.

How does it feel Yankees fans? How does it feel to always be excited about what your new free agent will do this season?

From my perspective, being a Yankees fan is like being a rich teenager. You crash your convertible so daddy just buys you a new one.

Being a Phillies fan, or a Cubs fan or a Sox fan is like being the teenager who gets the hand-me-down Jetta. It’s nice. Not very flashy, not very fast but it’s reliable and we’ll drive it until it’s last dying sputter.

Keep your convertibles. If it doesn’t work again this year, maybe Hank will buy you a Hummer next year.

Fanhood

I take a lot of heat for being a Phillies fan. If its not the fact that we have 10,000 losses it’s the fact that we have a tiny ballpark or that we’re cholk-artists. I thought that winning the world series would change all that. I guess I was wrong.

Now I am relentlessly accused of being a “bandwagon jumper.”

I wear my 2008 post-season Phillies sweatshirt wherever I go along with the 2008 world series championship hat. I’ve been waiting for this since I was 8 years-old. Ever since Joe Carter hit the homerun off Mitch Williams. I want to show my pride and excitement for my beloved Phillies; a team my family has cheered on for 50 years, and I want to show it for more than just a week.

Aside from the Phillies, I am a fan of sports more than I am a fan of individual teams. My year runs on three seasons instead of four: Baseball, Football, Basketball. The year begins in January with NFL playoffs to the superbowl, then transitions to the second half of the NBA season followed by the playoffs (which seem to last three and a half years) mixed with opening day of baseball. I ride baseball all summer long and will hardly pay any attention to football until the Phillies are out of it. During each of these seasons, I get into “modes” where I don’t care about any other sports but the mode I am in.

Here it is November, a time when I am usually knee deep in NFL and college football, and I can’t get baseball off my mind. I still pick up a baseball bat and take practice swings in my living room and I keep bugging my friends to have a catch.

What bugs me though is how other people can call me a bandwagon jumper and ignore the entire Tampa Bay fan-base. Until this season, the Tampa Bay Rays’ fan-base consisted of Dick Vitale and the collection of team mothers (most of them, at least). Yet somehow, Tropicana Field was flooded with people sporting ray-hawks and cowbells. If that’s not a stadium full of bandwagon jumpers, I don’t know what is.

To find out, ask anyone with a ray-hawk to name the starting lineup from last year. Then you’ll know.

I watched a lot of people claim to be Red Sox fans in 2004, a lot of which were Marlins fans the year before. I really have no problem with it. If a great postseason like 2004 or 2008 converts you, admit it. Just don’t claim to be a lifelong fan and act like you were in agony for 100 years.

I haven’t quite waited a century to see my team win it all; and the curse of Billy Penn doesn’t quite measure up to the curse of the Bambino. But I finally have a reason to justify wearing a Phillies cap outside of eastern PA without getting laughed at, and I’ll do it with dignity.

I’ve earned it.
Philadelphia has earned it.

So please, don’t call me a bandwagon jumper just because my team won and your team lost. That’s not very good Fanhood.

~SL