I had a girlfriend once who liked to play me off against other suitors--her ex-boyfriend, who was richer; guys she was friends with who were more studly--and who would tell large, relationship-encompassing lies without blinking for the most petty of reasons, like picking a particular movie. That relationship didn't turn out so well, which is for the better since it meant I ended up marrying an honest woman who's also lovely and talented. Lies and distrust are poison.
I'm reminded of this almost every day as a baseball fan. Why, just yesterday:
The greatest thing I've found this year, though, is that in attending games you can see things you don't see on television.
This year, after many years of living off the largesse of my friends and family, and begging, borrowing, and scalping tickets where I could get them, I bought season tickets. I've learned a lot by upping my game attendance from 20 to more than 40 (and that's not including minor-league games).
For starters, there's a huge gap between the unified seamheads--the people who may believe in clutch hitting or might know their park effects cold--and the random fan who cheers for the dot/train/boat races and says things like "I love the music! The music is the best part of the game." Recognize each other through the rolled eyeballs during the warmed-over bloopers segment (if it wasn't digital, folks, they'd wear the tape through).
I may be the only person in America cheering for a long, protracted labor battle that brings baseball to its knees.
I may be the only person in America cheering for a long, protracted labor battle that brings baseball to its knees. I think the best thing that could happen to baseball would be for it to face death, to look into the void and see the monster that the industry has become. There's no chance the owners are going to come to their senses and suddenly become honest, or open, or look towards meaningful long-term solutions that would benefit everyone.
Baseball is fat, hugely fat. Since the last strike, non-payroll expenses have risen at a higher rate than salaries have. Owners regularly extort stadiums out of their hosts. Many franchises are run by inept collections of morons who wouldn't be able to make a living standing on a street corner grinding an organ, with a uniformed monkey collecting change.
Overnight, the Royals have gone from a franchise that was one transaction away from official joke status to a team that is slowly, haltingly--but finally--headed in the right direction.
Everything has changed. Pessimism has turned to optimism. Dread has been replaced by hope. Overnight, the Royals have gone from a franchise that was one transaction away from official joke status to a team that is slowly, haltingly--but finally--headed in the right direction.
Mike Sweeney is not, by himself, going to save this franchise. Locking him up for five more years no more guarantees a turnaround than having him on the team the past five years prevented the Royals from perennial last-place finishes. But for the first time in years, the Royals have a foundation. They have a face. They can point to Mike Sweeney and say, "our best player has bought into our future." They did it for far less than anyone thought. Instead of the $12-$15 million a season that everyone figured it would take to land Sweeney, the Royals got his John Hancock for five years, $55 million, or what we Wichitans like to call "Darren Dreifort money."