Ahhh! Spring is here. It's that time of year when we can once again hear the crack of the bat, the cheers of the fans (or "Hey Joe, Screw You" if you are at Shea Stadium) and get a whiff of the mixed smells of beer, cotton candy and hot dogs.
I know many of you are getting worried right now that this is one of those typical Chronicle columns where someone starts to wax poetically about their childhood and how much baseball means to them because this world is really just one big Field of Dreams. But please hold on for just one moment. Why? Because I think baseball sucks. Pardon my French and excuse my abruptness, but I think that as fans we all need to take a big step away from the game.
Let me clarify my thoughts a little bit. The actual playing out of a game of baseball is a pretty good thing. It doesn't stand up there with a well-played game of basketball or lacrosse, but on the whole scale of things it beats out squash and curling. My problem is with Major League Baseball. I know that you can look at figures and stats that will tell you attendance was down last year, but the next time there is a meeting of the owners they will be sitting in a room having one big collective laugh at how the population of America is the biggest brainless herd of sheep in the history of mankind. I call this herd phenomenon the Duke student syndrome.
Student: Hey, they just fired my favorite professor because he actually knew how to teach, they stuck me in a dorm 30 minutes from all of my classes, but just a few steps from the end of the earth and, on top of this, they raised my tuition-well, that's OK, I'll be glad to give you $30 towards the senior gift.
Baseball fan: Hey, the owners and players in MLB just destroyed one of the greatest seasons of all time when there were actually some good pennant races and a few records which might have fallen-well, that's OK, sign me up for another package of season tickets and throw in one of those $10 hot dogs while you are at it.
Excuse me, but can anyone tell me what ever happened to good old consumer power? I guess it must of gotten flushed down the same toilet as the 1994 season. Why do we let the owners and players treat us like this? Do we know what is going to happen in three or four years when there is some other financial squabble between the owners and players?
Owners: We're changing the rules. From now each player will work for minimum wage and practice time does not count on your time card.
Players: Forget it. We want $12 million a year guaranteed, and a brand new Porsche every time we hit a home run. Oh, except for Dykstra, he wants a Ford pick-up truck, they hold up better in an accident.
Owners: Fine, we'll just lock you out of the season.
Players: Fine, we'll strike.
Commissioner (Ooops, sorry, my fault, I forgot that baseball has done away with the whole idea of having someone who is actually in charge ).
Bud Selig or whichever owner is playing king for the day: Ummm, guys, don't you think we should take into consideration the fans? I mean, aren't they going to remember that we did this to them three years ago?
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Players and owners: The fans, ha! They don't remember who was on their home team last year, much less what happened three years ago. Forget the fans-they'll be back with their money in no time.
Let's analyze what we are giving when we head to the ballpark. Tickets for most seats in most ballparks will cost you between 10 to 20 bucks. You pay a good six dollars for parking and another two for the program because you need a roster since everyone on last year's team left due to free agency. Four beers, two hot dogs, a bag of peanuts and some cotton candy (your typical sportswriter's menu) will run you $20-$25. So even if we use the conservative figures, we are still talking about $128 for a family of four to attend a game. For those of you who are wondering, these calculations are based on Shea Stadium, so yes, the kids will have four beers.
I don't know why they are bothering to put ATM machines in the concourses of these ballparks. They should just set up a pawn shop next to the ticket office so that you can sell your jewelry to get into a game. Or how about "Sell Your Soul to the Devil For Eternity, Receive Two Free Tickets Night"?
I know many of you are wondering how you can give up America's favorite pastime cold turkey. It's difficult-I can't go a day without having a grilled cheese and Jello at the Pits. But instead of not going to the games at all, if everyone just tightened their belts by one notch, the baseball conglomerate would feel the repercussions. If you have season tickets, only go to a few games. If you attend 10 games a year, only go to two. If you take only one family vacation a year, skip it and go to a bunch of Durham Bulls games. The tickets are cheaper than in the big leagues, and so is the beer (although you won't have that Yankees fan two rows in front of you to throw it on). Another option is to go see the Duke baseball team-admission is free, there is no beer, but if you're nice to the ATOs maybe they'll pour you a cup from the back of their truck.
My one wish for this baseball season (since I know the Dodgers won't win the series), is that the fans of America rise up and strike before the owners and players do it first.
William Dvoranchik is a Trinity senior and associate sports editor of The Chronicle. If any of those baseball teams he applied to are reading this, he'll be more than willing to pay for his own season tickets in exchange for a job.