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March 9, 2006

It's America's 'pastime,' but a Latin obsession

Wrong! It's not America's "pastime." I'll tell you why...

First, America's pastime is suing each other.

Next, baseball stopped being America's pastime when the business of baseball became more important than the game. When salary caps, bonuses, multi-millionaires; hundred-dollar tickets, stadium deals, strikes; arbitration, performance enhancing drugs, and Congressional hearings took precedence over the sound of the bat, the pitch, the hustle on the field, the camaraderie of the fans; bringing the kids to the game, and so on. When a hot dog and a coke became $12 dollars.

Last, it stopped being the pastime when players decided they were more important than the game, when they could verbally and physically assault people who pay to see them; once players decided they needed to charge for an autograph to some little kid; when players could take drugs and lie about it...making the assumption we're stupid; when stadiums steeped in sports history and loved by fans were knocked down for not generating the right kind of revenue.

Basically, greed screwed it all up. Greed...and ego.

Latin countries understand it's more than the players. It's an event; a part of their culture like how the British love their soccer (football). The players want the fans to come and be part of the spectacle, to celebrate not just their team, but the sport as part of their country. They want it to have a party atmosphere, to be festive. To them, it represents the best in sport, not just for the talented players or the action on the field, but for its nostalgia and history. It's an institution.

We don't have that in America anymore. We should stop kidding ourselves. Years ago, when the race for baseball revenue started, it rang the death knell for our national pastime. Now seeing players sign for $250 million just glaringly shows our greed, our ego, and our ignorance, not to mention what the baseball industry really considers important...the money, not the game.

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