Posted on: September 10, 2009 12:31 pm
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Fan Behavior and How It Should Change

I sit and write this piece on the day that begins the 2009 NFL season.  The subject of fan behavior at games and what you should expect when you attend a game has been on my mind off and on for a time and was brought back to my mind yesterday morning when I was listening to a discussion on what might be hurting attendance at NFL games in recent years.  What was pointed out as a big, and very obvious factor, was the econonomy and the fact that people just do not have as much money to spend on going to games and spending on sports merchandise as they did a few years ago.  While I do not doubt that this is the major reason for any decrease in attendance and revenue for teams in pretty much all sports, I do believe there are other factors to consider.  One of these factors is the behavior of fans in the stadiums across the nation.

Over the past years, there have been numerous stories of extremely bad behavior in stadiums across the country.  The things that immediately come to mind are a fan that actually got stabbed at an Oakland raiders game for the egregious offense of wearing a San Diego Chargers jersey.  Imagine the gall to believe that you should heve the right to go to one of your team's away games without the fear of being assaulted or harassed.  This is clearly an extreme example but I seem to remember that there were some people who actually defended the Oakland Raiders fans! Please, even if he was parading around then stadium yelling "Raiders suck" he certainly did not deserve to be stabbed.  The other instance that rings in my mind are the fans in Philly heckling a Tampa Bay Rays player's child during last season's World Series.  Again, this is something completely uncalled for and it cannot be justified.

For those of you who say, if you go to a stadium and cheer for or, god forbid wear an opposing team's jersey, you should expect to be tormented and harassed, I say you are completely wrong.  I completely agree that there is nothing wrong with some trash talk, but I am talking about harassment beyond this.  You should not have to expect to have food and drinks thrown on you.  You should not have to expect to be threatened, or even physically assaulted.  You should not have to expect to be cursed at for no reason other than the team you cheer for.  You should not have to expect these things and any supposed fan who subjects others to these actions should be banned from sports stadiums for a minimum of one year for a first offenses and for life for repeated offenses or major offenses. 

Also, having a ticket to a game certainly does not give you the right to engage in whatever behavior you want.  Those people around you also have the right to enjoy the game that they have spent a lot of money to attend as well.  Once you prevent others from being able to enjoy the game, your right to attend the game should cease at that point.  This includes fans who believe they have the right to not only torment other fans, but those who believe that any action, including throwing objects at, toward players on the field is a right purchased with their ticket.  It does not give you those rights.  When did a sense of common courtesy and respect toward your fellow man/woman disappear in this country?  In this "me" generation people are concerned about getting respect from others but do not seem to realized that that goes hand in hand with giving respect to others as well.  This generation also seems to think that all that matters is what makes themselves feel good, or happy.  I completely agree with people trying to be happy and feel good, but when your actions keep others from having a chance of being happy, you have exceeded your rights.  If tormenting other people is the only way you can have fun at a game, you are not really a fan to begin with.

Other than the cost, I have to consider what other people at a stadium are going to do and what kind of behavior I should expect when deciding whether or not to buy tickets for myself and my kids to attend.  When i was younger, I might have just said "well, you just shouldn't bring your kids."  However, as I have gotten a little older, I realize that a sports event should be safe for children to attend without having to be exposed to some of the outlandish and overboard fan behavior that takes place in today's world.  This is in addition to an annoyance tyo myself that can actually ruin a game.  Drinking a beer, or even a few, during a game is something I support absolutely but if you cannot keep yourself from getting hammered to the point of being loud, obnoxious, harassing and violent then maybe you need to stay home and watch the game.

By the way, it is not just the away team's fans you are making miserable, it is your team's fans as well.  you may think that you are their hero for showing those other fans that they should not have the gall to show up and cheer for their team but you are ruining things for the fans of your team as well.  At a few games I have gone to, home games for my team, my time has been ruined by fellow fans of my team getting out of hand around me.  You are no hero.

What would I like to see?  I would like to see a sports world wherein a Yankees fan can wear their jersey to Fenway, a Red Sox fan can wear their jersey to Yankee Stadium, a place where a Chargers fan can wear their jersey to a Raiders - Chargers game in Oakland, a place where fans of any visiting team can wear their jersey in any stadium.  I speak not just of a place allowing this, but a place where it will not bring about harassment, lewd, or assaultive behavior.  Is this really too much to ask?
Category: General
Posted on: July 14, 2009 1:55 pm
 

Deciding Home Field in the World Series

As we all know, MLB now decides home field advantage from the winner of the All Star game, set to be played tonight.  MLB is peculiar in that it is the only major sport that decides home field advantage, or anything else for that matter, based on the outcome of its All-Star game.  The NFL plays the Superbowl at a neutral site.  Both the NBA and NHL give home court, or home ice, advantage to the team with the better record.  MLB's method does provide more excitement to the game and does give more incentive for players, particularly those from contenders, to play harder and really try to win.  I suppose the managers should be more motivated to win as well more than make sure everyone gets in the game.  This is just as good, and better in my opinion, than the old way of alternating home filed advantage every year.  However, it does seems a lot to base on an exhibition game. 

Within the past few days I heard Bud Selig talking about this very subject on Mike and Mike in the Morning.  During that conversation, the different methods of deciding home field advantage were discussed.  They talked about the old way, the current method, and the potential of having home field in the World Series decided by best record.  Selig spoke against this and seemed to say that it would be too difficult and too much of a hassle to do it that way.  One thing in particular he talked about was the hotel rooms and transportation that really need to be booked in advance.  He said that these plans really needed to be made ahead of time and due to this, home field could not be decided based on best schedule.  What?  Unless I am completely off base here, it seems like you could not really firm up your plans for travel and hotels until after the League Championship Series to begin with.  The only way you could make those plans more in advance than that is if you knew in advance which teams were going to win the AL and NL championships before they happened.  Doesn't make much sense to me.  Even under the old plan of alternating years, you would not know what teams and cities would be involved until after the league champions were decided as well.  Assuming the AL wins tomorrow night, where is the MLB going to start booking rooms tomorrow?  Do we go ahead and book rooms for LA and New York, Boston and Chicago, or LA St. Louis?  If this method makes everything so much more simpler, i sure don't see it.  I am sorry Mr. Selig, but your argument just failed on this front.

Maybe Selig should go talk to the NBA and NHL.  After all, they have found a way to make home field to the best record work.  As with baseball, they do not know who will be playing in their respective finals until after their conference championships.  Then it is just a matter of comparing records and giving home field to the better team accordingly.  At that point you start booking hotels and travel.  This has worked in the NBA and NHL forever, why is it too complicated for MLB?  Is it too difficult to compare records and see who has the better winning percentage?  I am sorry Mr. Selig, but again your argument just does not hold water.

I am not necessarily saying that the method of deciding home field advantage should necessarily be changed, but it would not hurt to consider it.  What it really boils down to, is that the argument that Selig gave about hotel and travel bookings seems to be calling us fans stupid, and i hate to be called stupid.  So MLB if you want to keep deciding home field the way it is done now, fine, just give a plausible reason that does not insult the intelligence of your fans.

Posted on: July 6, 2009 4:00 pm
 

A Couple of Thoughts for the Day

On this Monday afternoon, there are just a few subjects that have been on my mind today.  I don't profess to have all the answers but only want to put my two cents in.

The Major League Baseball All-Star Game:

Last week, I heard some radion commentary about the MLB All Star Game and what the significance of that game should be.  Most of the opinions I heard expressed were against the All Star Game deciding home field advantage during the world series.  There were several suggestions on what should be done with the All Star Game and what should be at stake.  Changing the rule to where the winning league of the All Star Game may have been an over reaction to an All Star Game ending in extra innings in a tie but it has made the game unique among all star games.  First, it is the only all star game that means anything at all.  Whether or not, the stakes are too high for an exhibition game is debatable, but it does keep the game interesting.  Other than the MLB All-Star game, I don't watch any of the others because they are no more meaningful than a pre-season game.  Where is the excitement?  Also, it is no worse than before, when the AL and NL would have homefield in the World Series in alternating years. 

I think the best alternative, that I wish that I could claim would be to have the winning league of the All Star game have all interleague games played by that league's rules during the following season.  That idea came from Mike Greenberg.  However, I would make it like a coin flip in that the winning league would get to choose which rules would be used on a game by game basis.  For example. If the American League wins this year's All Star Game and next year the Yankees and Mets start a 3 game series.  During that series, the Yankees, as the AL team would get to elect AL or NL rules for each game they play.  It would be just the opposite with the Mets choosing, if the NL wins the All Star game this year.  Then, rather than haiving the All Star game determine home field advantage in the World Series, the team with the best record would hold home field advantage.  Seems like a reasonable plan to me.

Brett Favre and the Continuing Saga:

In what is becoming an increasingly drawn out saga, we are still waiting on word as to whether or not Brett Favre will play for the Minnesota Vikings this year.  I can certainly understand that people are getting sick of the saga, or just sick of the wait to find out whether or not he will play again this year.  In truth, I would like for the decision to be made and announced just to end the story and any suspense that is left.  The slow progression of news is getting tedious to say the least.  A couple of weeks ago it is a story that Favre had had surgery and that if his arm healed properly, he would play for the Vikings this year.  Not too much of a shock there.  Then in the last couple of days, Dr. Anrdews comes out with a bombshell of his own, that Favre wants to play for the Vikings.  Has there been any real news in this story recently.  To tell the truth, I would like to not see another story on this subject until Favre has reached a final decision on the matter.

However, even though I am getting a little bit sick of the drawn out story, I do not blame favre at all for wanting to come back and play if he is still able.  First, Favre feels like he was wronged by Green Bay prior to last season.  I am not saying that he was indeed wronged or that green Bay did anything wrong.  That is entirely too subjective and everybody will have their own opinion on that subject.  However, if he does feel like he was betrayed, how can he be blamed for wanting to get a little bit of revenge?  That is just human nature and he is entitled to have human emotions like the rest of us.  If your company decided they didn;t weant you any more, and you wanted to continue working, would you just give up your career for company loyalty or go work elsewhere.  If your company then tried to prevent you fromn working elsewhere, would you not want to get even?  If that is how Favre sees things, I don't blame him for wanting a little revenge.

It also does not seem that a person who doesn't want to retire should be forced into retirement.  If Minnesota wants Favre to be their quarterback and sign him, and Favre has the ability to play who am I, or anyone else, to say that he should just stay retired?  I know that I would not want people telling me when I should retire and demanding that I do so.  This is America, and as long as Favre wants to work and has someone who wishes to hire him, he has the absolute right to keep on working.  Let's not forget, there have to be two sides to Favre continuing in the NFL, Favre and a willing team.  When teams are no longer interested in having him play, he will have to retire.  Until then, let him play, and I hope he succeeds.  Fianlly, where are people getting that he has gone into and come out of retirement several times over the past several years.  I thought that this was his second time, the first retirement coming last year.  It just seems like the indecision is being exaggerated to a great degree.

Michael Vick and Other Convicted Felons:

Over the past several months I have heard a lot of debate that centers primarily around Michael Vick, but is just as applicable to several players in the NFL for the time being.  These opinions I have heard range from Vick should never be allowed into the NFL again to he should be suspended another season or a portion of a season to he should be immediately re-instated.  My question is simply, why should Vick, or any other player convicted of a felony get so much of a better shot than anyone else.  If a person is in a position to ever play professional sports they have already been given an opportunity that most of the population will never have.  Then it is their decision to take care of what they have earned or throw it away, just as the rest of us do.  There are people who earn the right to pursue a living as a Doctor, Lawyer, Teacher, Nurse, Accountant, or other professions that have worked hard to get to where they are, and sacrificed.  In these professions, there is a very high chance that a felony conviction will result in losing your license.  That career path will be over because of your choices.  These people would then have the right to make a living but almost certainly in a diffrent, and lower paid position. 

Why should these spoiled, over paid athletes have it better than everyone else in the counry?  Nobody has said that Vick can never earn a living again, but that he should have to do it in another job.  He is working in a construction job now, and most people would feel lucky to be given any chance after having been convicted of a felony and serving time.  Vick, and the other football felons, can still earn a living, but they should not be given so much more than any person in the country. 

That is about all I have to say for today, thanks for taking time to read my thoughts.

Posted on: July 2, 2009 3:51 pm
 

As fans we need an agent!

Recently I heard that the fans of the Florida Panthers have signed NFL player agent Drew Rosehaus to represent them in trying to get prices for season tickets lowered.  That got me to thinking, do you think fans of sports could get Scott Boras to represent us in trying to bring some cost certainty and sanity for the fans of major sports in the United States.  I choose Boras, or Rosenhaus, to represent us becuase of the obvious success they have had representing their player clients over the years.  We need representation as well, and we deserve the best!  The time has come to stand up for our rights as fans!

Here is what I propose as fan demands in forming a new and revolutionary fan expenditure agreement, sort of similar to a collective bargaining agreement.  First, there must be a suds cap put into effect for refreshments at a ballpark.  Let's be serious, 9 dollars for a cup of luke warm beer or soda is a little much.  I would say, drink prices would have to be capped at 4 dollars per beer, 2 dollars for a soda.  Food would also fall into our suds cap.  Is there any reason the cap on a cost of a hot dog couldn't be 3 dollars, 4 for a foot long?  Basically, concessions need to be capped at about half the price they are now.  Ball park food is usually cheap food and should be priced that way as well.  Some allowances on the cap could be allowed for luxury food like sushi, but the classics really need to be cheap.  It should not cost an arma and a leg to but refreshments for a family of 4 or 5.

There would also have to be a cap put on how much could be charged for merchandise.  Is there any legitimate reason why an authentic jersey should cost 200 dollars or more?  We are not even talking about an autographed jersey but just a regulation jersey with player name and number on it.  When you get right down to it, it is just a shirt, nothing more and nothing less.  Let's say, the cost of authentic jerseys should be capped at 50 or 60 dollars, as that seems a legitimate price for a well made pull over shirt.  It should be at least somewhat affordable to go to a game and by jerseys or caps or other memorbilia for your kids and family. 

Finally, there has to be a cap put on the cost of seats at our sporting events.  That would be a lot more complicated.  But how about this for a plan.  From what I have seen the median income for a household in the United States is about 50,000.  Let's say that the per ticket price for floor, or first row seats should be capped at 1% of that amount, about 500 dollars.  That is still expensive, put prices that are getting to 2,500 are just ludicrous.  Of course, prices would decrease from there to let's say 10 dollars for the cheapest seats.  Our games should be accessible to all fans at a reasonable price, not just the wealthiest of fans.  Also, the days of corporate suits, who may or may not be watching the game, having the best seats have to come to an end.  That's what the luxury boxes are for.

In return, we can agree to harsh penalties for inconsiderate, irresponsible, or downright criminal behavior of some fans, sort of a fan conduct agreement.  To begin with, any fan who willfully destroys property, hence adding cost onto the team may receive a lifetime ban as to that team's future games.  We agree not to complain on pasrt of those fans.  In fact we will agree to a series of penalties to be levied against fans dependent upon the number and severity of offenses committed.

In several leagues, there have been pleadings from ownership for fans to support salary caps, or "cost certainty" for ownership.  We were also told that once there were salary caps in place that the sports would be more affordable for the fan.  Has that happened in the NBA, NFL or NHL?  Last time I priced tickets or merchandise, it did not seem like these sports became any more affordable for fans than they were prior to salary caps being passed.  In fact, it seems that prices have continued to rise.  The salary caps have only ensured that more money goes to extremely wealthy owners rather than rich players.  That is it.  There has been no benefit to fans in terms of our costs, period.  That has to change.

A side thought, with most teams getting public funding to build stadiums these days shouldn't they be even more obligated to make the sports experience affordable to the members of their communities.  When they get public support, we are all paying for our teams facilities through the use of our tax dollars, and we should get some return on our investment as well.

Do you agree with me?  Doesn't it seem that we are being raked over the coals by our professional sports teams who seem overly excited about getting every dime they can out of us while providing as little as possible.  Maybe I am just a little grumpy right now as I was pricing tickets to a few games, but I do think some semblance of sanity must be brought to our prices.
Category: General
Tags: Major Sports, MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL
 
Posted on: February 12, 2009 5:00 pm
 

Baseball, It's still a great game!

This is certainly the most frequently I have posted blog entries in my time doing this blog.  Heck, I think at this point I will have doubled my number of blog entries in the past two days alone.  Yesterday I posted an entry revolving around a negative subject concerning our great past time, and a subject that I have personally grown more and more tired of.  In fact, most of the writing I have seen recently seems to be concerned with what is wrong with the game, and all of the negative that has come up in the sport over the last several years.  If one was to just see this media coverage, it is certainly easy to lose track with all that is right with our game and the positives that come forward from it.  I hope through this entry, I can influence some people to start looking at the positive aspects of the game and those magnificent things which have taken place and will undoubtedly continue to take place in the future.

First, there have been a number of underdog stories that have transpired over the past several years.  One that immediately comes to mind is the Tampa Bay Rays making it to the World Series.  Even as a Yankees fan, I can recognize the accomplishment here.  I truly wish it had been the Yankees instead of the Rays but that is beside the point.  A franchise who had never even had a single winning series in their prior history found themselves in the Fall Classic.  Nobody expected them to even finish above .500 at the beginning of the season.  Even during the season all of the talk was whether the Rays were for real and when would they collapse into the cellar once again.  We all kept waiting for it to happen, yet it never did.  They certainly did not need to win the World Series, or even make it to the Series, to have a successful season.  Just making the playoffs would have been a success.  With their trip to the Series, they took a step forward for underdogs everywhere.

Another underdog story that was truly inspiring was the re-emergence of Rick Ankiel with the St. Louis Cardinals.  Perhaps a better way to put it is the emergence of Rick Ankiel as a truly gifted hitter.  I think everyone knows the basics of his story.  He started in the Majors as a top pitching prospect and then he fell apart as a pitcher.  He decided he wanted to keep playing, so he became an outfielder and a solid batter.  The excitement as he kept knocking balls out of the park was palpable.  The only thing that takes away from this story is Ankiel's eventual link to HGH.  HGH or not, this is still a truly amazing comeback story.  In my opinion this story would certainly make a great movie in the likes of "The Rookie" or any number of inspirational stories based on sports figures coming back at a time or age when all would have thought they were done. 

The anticipation of the upcoming season.  Who can deny that as the new season dawns upon us, pitchers and catchers report in just 2 short days from now, that we are not beginning to fill with excitement?  I know I am looking forward to the new season with hope that the Yankees win another championship, and that all of the off-season moves work out well.  At this point, fans of every team can have optimism about the season to start.  Some may be justified and others may be in dream land, but we can all believe for the time being.  At this point, we are all equal in the standings.  Unfortunately, I will have to follow spring training from the computer but I know that I will be following it and building up my excitement for Opening Day in April.  As always, I will be looking forward to the Yankees first series of the season against the Red Sox.  I am sure that fans across the nation have things they are already looking forward to.  Maybe it's going to spring training, going to a game in a new stadium, or just being able to sit at home and watch a game while you have a cookout and drink a few frosty ones on a sunny summer afternoon.  Bottom line, all of these things that we have to look forward to have been overlooked recently.

Whether we are at the park or watching games from home, the camaraderie with your fellow fans is another great thing about our game.  I know I have made quite a few friends, both virtual and real life, by talking about our team.  While it is just a little bit different, I have even be-friended the occasional Red Sox fan.  the sport of baseball gives us as an American people a common subject to share, an institution that can unite us all.  There are very few things that can do this as baseball does.  People need to remember this as we move forward into the season and beyond.

What can beat taking your kid to his or her first game?  It was just a few short years ago that I took my sons to their first baseball game.  It was one of the best experiences of my life.  From the time we walked into the park to the end of the game, we had an absolute blast that day.  Unfortunately, I spent a little too much money.  Before it was over, my boys were walking out of the park with jerseys and caps, and a stomach full of soda and hot dogs.  And really, is there any place in the world that you can get a hot dog that is as good as at the ball park?  Without this sport, my sons and I do not have that memory.  In fact, to this day I remember the first game that my dad took me to as a kid.  It was a Yankees game when Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson, Goose Gossage, and the other greats from the '77 to '78 Yankees were playing.  It was a game in 1978 against the Texas Rangers in Arlington.  The sport of baseball gave me a memory that has and will last a lifetime.

Hope.  In today's world we all need hope.  Without hope, what do we really have, and what do we have to look forward to?  Baseball gives us some measure of hope in our every day lives.  If a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates or Kansas City Royals can have hope, we all can.  And just maybe that hope and optimism can spill over into other areas of our lives and society.  It is something.  With our economy in shambles and being told our environment is almost beyond repair, we really need something to give us hope and optimism.  Maybe baseball, and everything it means to us as a people can give us at least some measure of hope, and if not hope at least a means to escape from our troubles and just be a kid again.

I hope that as me move forward, we can all look for positive stories, because nothing but negative events sure is depressing after a while.  Here's to the upcoming season and all that it holds in store for us all.

 

Posted on: February 11, 2009 1:10 pm
 

Steroids and baseball, Will it ever end?

As I sit here writing this post I have a few thoughts concerning the ongoing steroid discussion as it relates to baseball and the stars in the sport.  This is the first blog entry I have posted in quite some time but I have not had the time to do so.  This may reflect my impatience with the entire subject and my desire to just see it go away.  Some may also believe that it has to do with me being a Yankee fan and growing increasingly sick of seeing my team's players outed in various reports, books and other media.  I believe, and hope, that I can be a little bit more neutral and impartial than that.  At this point, I would be as sick of hearing about steroids and baseball if it were Boston Red Sox players being named rather than New York Yankees players.  To begin, I would like to say that I am not defending or making excuses for the use of steroids or other performance enhancing drugs.

First, it has been obvious that there is certainly disparate treatment of athletes who test dirty depending upon what sport they participate in.  It seems that this entire week has been devoted to the story of Alex Rodriguez and performance enhancing drugs.  I am sure there are other stories in sports and this cannot possibly be all that is going on.  We also have seen the same treatment of Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, and many other baseball players.  Some have escaped as much wrath due to admitting use and acting humble, see Andy Pettite.  However, all of the baseball players named in any report will forever have their careers tarnished by this.  In fact, the entire era is probably tarnished by steroids.  It has even been said that none of these players should be allowed into the Hall of Fame because of steroid use.  For a contrast I turn to the NFL.  In the recent past Sean Merriman and Rodney Harrison have both been found to have used a performance enhancing drug.  Neither one of them were put through the media circus or called before Congress as baseball players have been.  They received a suspension and the biggest concern of fans seemed to be, when will they be back on the field?  If there is any validity to the argument that we don't want our pro athletes using any PED so that children and developing athletes won't use them, then the same rules and scrutiny should apply across the board.  Otherwise, we are really saying that it is really okay to use performance enhancing drugs if you play football, but if you play baseball it is a mortal sin to even consider it.  And let's face it, where do you think being bigger, stronger, and faster will pay off the most?

People have now been stating that the remainder of the 104 names of players who tested dirty in the 2003 testing should be released to the public as Alex Rodriguez's name was.  There are a couple of objections I can see to this.  First, this testing was done with the promise that it would be confidential, would be destroyed, and there would be no punishment assessed for a positive test.  It was absolutely wrong for any name, including Alex Rodriguez, to be released to the media, period.  It was through these guarantees that players agreed to that round of testing to begin with.  If the players cannot trust ownership and the league when it comes to these positive tests, can they trust them on anything else? For all of those who think that we have the right to know all the names, I will put one question to you.  If you took a medical test at your job, say for drugs, based on the promise that it would be confidential, and there would be no punishment for it, would you believe that it would be justified to publish your positive test result at a later date?  To add to the problem, your name is then trashed in the media.  While most of us would not have to worry about the media, you have to admit that it would be embarrassing.  Would you have any trust for your employer at that point?  Additionally, if the other 103 names were released does anyone believe that would end the steroid era and no other player would be suspected?  There is no way.  Releasing the names would do nothing except to provide tabloid fodder as no one can be punished for these tests anyway.  Truly, the only person wronged by the release of just one name out of 104 is Alex Rodriguez himself because he is now being singled out.  Who knows, even if they all came out he may still receive the most attention, but at least would be one among many.

Another subject that has been continually coming up is Cooperstown.  There have been many columnists and fans that say that no player ever tied to the steroid scandal should be eliminated from consideration from the Hall of Fame.  At this point that list would include many of the best players of this era.  The Hall of Fame is supposed to be a museum to the greatest achievements on the field.  The simple fact is that a lot of the greatest players of this era have been tied to steroids, or had their name mentioned in relation to the subject.  This naturally leads to the question of what standard of do we use to keep players out of Cooperstown based on steroid ties.  Would it be as little as an individual said they did it or would it have to be based upon a positive test?  Clearly there should be more than just the word of one person to keep a person out of the Hall forever.  It actually may just cast a doubt over every player who has played during the steroid era.  If all players are guilty by association, do we then keep them all out of the Hall?  That would certainly seem like an extreme solution.  To me the most reasonable solution seems to be to do as Bob Costas has suggested and put a sign up indicating what the steroid era was and what it signified to the sport and the nation.  People then could make up their own minds as to what it would mean to them.  This would also ensure that players who have accomplished some astounding feats would be enshrined.  Let's not forget that there have been other ways of cheating in the past and I am pretty sure there are some Hall of Famers who have engaged in some form of cheating.

Here's to the end of the entire steroid saga and a return to our great national past time in the very near future. 

Posted on: January 30, 2008 11:42 pm
 

The Start of Baseball Season

I am sitting here looking forward to being able to watch a baseball game pretty soon and realize it is still albout 2 months until the start of the regular season.  Pitchers and catchers are reporting soon and the opening of spring training is just 27 days and 23 minutes away as I wtite this.  I have now started to wonder what is it that makes me sit and think about the start of the season so soon before it starts  I like watching football, but I do not really give it a thought before August.  I really don't pay attention to it from the end of the Superbowl until mid-August.  I love watching hockey, and am a pretty big fan of the sport, yet it does not consume my thoughts in the off-season as baseball does.  What is it about this game that makes it special?

1. It is America's game:  Although football has surpassed baseball in attendance and television viewing, it has always been regarded as America's game.  It has been an American sport, and our national past time for over a century.  It got it's start in the late 1800's and continues today.  In that time baseball has created most of the great sports heroes of our country.  It gave us Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams (for you Red Sox fans), Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Mickey Mantle, and many others.  These players not only played the game greatly, but they have shaped our sports world.  They provide us with endless debate about who the greatest pitcher was, or the greatest fielder, or the greatest hitter.  While a sport that encourages this much debate might divide people, baseball helps bring us together as a people.  It is a common thread that we all share to this day

2. It is a relaxing sport: This is a sport that is best watched on a warm summer afternoon or evening with a cold beer and time to just sit back and relax.  It is designed perfectly for this.  As we all know it is not an extremely fast paced sport.  Therefore you always have time to get up and get a beer from the fridge between batters, or between innings.  It even has the seventh inning stretch.  How much more relaxing can it be.  It also shows that while you won't be perfect, you can still succeed.  As Ted Williams put it, it is the only human endeavor where a man can fail seven out of ten times and still be considered successful. 

3. It is a reflection on life:  Baseball's 162 game season is a perfect analogy to life.  Football is a sprint, a 16 game sseason.  Baseball is a marathon.  A baseball team can have a bad stretch of 16 games and still be a contender.  Life is like this, it is a marathon.  The point is to keep going and if you have a bad day, you can just let it go, and you know you still have tomorrow. 

4. It is a thinking man's game: Baseball, much more than any other major sport is a game for the thinker.  It is dependent on numbers, and its history revolves around those numbers.  Today, those numbers shape the strategy managers use in the games that are played.  They have to consider how pitchers and hitters match up, especially when making substitutions.  Beyond that rather simple concept is having to know when and how to shift fielders with certain batters, when to bunt, when to swing away, and many other strategic decisions.  This is unique to baseball.  It is not as if a football team will start different quarterbacks, or even substitute them, depending on a matchup against  a particular team.  Until I started following it I never realized how much there is to the strategy in this great game.

5. The mid-summer classic:  This is simple.  It is the only professional sport that has an All-Star game that means anything.  It is an important game when homefield in the World Series is at stake.  Sure, basketball and hockey have midseason all-star games, which gives them some popularity but still no meaning.  The Pro-Bowl has got to be the most pointless.  A meaningless game after the most important game of the season is just not very exciing in my opinion.

6. The October Classic: The World Series.  Since its inception over one hundred years ago, there has only been one series cancelled.  That was a sad day for baseball and the country.  It is a tradition that has survived depression, recession, war, disease, and many other calamities and will continue far into the future.  As they say on t.v. there is only one October.

I hope that what I have written here makes sense and conveys my thoughts on what it it that makes baseball special to this country.

Posted on: January 24, 2008 12:46 am
 

My First Blog - Mitchell Observations

This is my first foray into the world of writing a blog.  There have been some things that have happened recently in sports that have perturbed me to say the least.  One of the big ones, is the Mitchell Report.   

The entire Mitchell investigation has really been irking me recently.  This is really for several reasons.  The first has to do with the idea of it being an independent investigation.  I do not think that either independent or investigation really apply to what was done.  To be independent, you have to have a party conducting the act that is not associated with any of the parties involved.  In law this is done to avoid any appearance of impropriety.  There are good reasons this is done.  It protects any findings from the doubt that automatically arises if you have someone connected to a party deciding a dispute involving that party.  They may actually be completely fair, but many will assume otherwise.  Next, it protects against having a “judge” make a ruling by things other than the case itself.  In this instance, George Mitchell is on the Board of Directors of the Boston Red Sox.  I am not saying, that the man is dishonest, or lied, but he certainly cannot be considered independent.  It does seem suspicious that twenty Yankees players and virtually no Red Sox players were named though.  Also, the word investigation seems like a stretch as well.  As far as I can tell, the entire report is based on the accounts of two snitches, McNamee and Rodomski.  To begin with, why in the world would that cost twenty million dollars?  Also, these are two guys giving over information in order to get favorable deals from the government.  It does not seem that there was enough actual investigation into their claims.  They may have been spoken to on several occasions, but a good liar could keep his story straight.

I also have a problem with naming players in this report and thereby ruin their reputations based on this information.  As everyone is well aware, it is very difficult to recover your reputation after these types of allegations.  I bet that even if a player is able to clear his name, many will still hold unfounded suspicion of that player due to just having been named.  It was seen during the McCarthy era when just being named a communist could ruin reputations as well as lives.  Another problem arises in a player even being able to clear their name to begin with.  It is very difficult to prove a negative.  When Roger Clemons was named in the report, his agent or attorney released a message in which Clemons said he did not ever use PED’s, no relation to WMD’s I hope.  After the naming, it seemed like the vast majority of people believed him guilty just because he was named.  Many stated opinions that if he was  innocent, he should be shouting it from the mountain tops and file suit against McNamee, etc.  Now he has done exactly that, but it still appears from the online polls that the vast majority of people still believe him to have cheated.  Whatever happened to the concept of innocent until proven guilty?  Related to this, just because a few of the named players have admitted to use certainly does not mean that the information given on all of the players named is accurate.  After all, the best lies are partially true.

Another issue I have with this entire process is the simple fact that MLB decided that it was necessary to even conduct this investigation in the manner it did.  I have wondered why there have been a few players in the NFL who have been suspended for using PED’s and Congress does not get involved with them.  Maybe it is because they handle it differently.  The approach by the NFL seems to be, have a testing program, do the testing, punish for violations.  They recognized that there was a problem and they addressed it.  MLB was on its way to doing the same thing, a testing program, and sanctions for positive results, or confirmed use of HGH, were in place.  Baseball had recognized the problem and was handling it.  It does not seems that having this highly publicized report really will do a lot of good in eliminating PED’s from the game.  Now Congress has gotten involved in this mess.  I know many people think that baseball cannot handle the problem so Congress has to save the day.  To begin with virtually all of the information given in Mitchell is from 2002 or earlier, before MLB had any testing or any policy on PED’s.  It doesn’t seem like the testing program has even been given enough time to even be able to tell if it is effective or not.  And is this really what Congress needs to be concerned with?  MLB is still a private enterprise, and is not in danger of failing.  If it was in danger of failing, I could see why Congress would have a place, but such is not the case now.  Even though Congress should be able to handle many different issues at once, if they spend a lot of time on this it is definitely taking away from tome that could be spent on things that are more of a concern to them and the nation.  The economy, war, and many other social issues come to mind as problems Congress should be trying to solve rather than this issue. 

I hope that this steroids era will pass soon and we can get back to enjoying the game without having to hear a story about this player who got caught doing that drug on a daily basis anymore.  Yes, the PED’s do need to be eliminated from the game, but a knee jerk reaction is not the answer.

Category: General
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com