Friday, September 25, 2009

The State of Baseball Today

As the 2009 season rolls to a close, the lack of excitement in this year's pennant races is noteworthy. There are no real races in any of the six divisions, nor even in the two wild card races. This is the first time since the wild card was introduced in the mid-90's that September baseball was so dreary and uninspiring.

Add to this the fact that the big-market (hence big-money) teams seem to be dominating more than in recent years. The only exceptions are the spectacular failure this year of the Mets, and the not-quite-as-spectacular failure of the Cubs.

A dreary example of the state of baseball today is yesterday's game between the Reds and the Pirates, which drew only 3,00 fans to Pittsburgh's new park. The small-market Pirates are the prime exhibit for the proposition that baseball has more work to do to restore a competetive balance. The Pirates have extended their streak of losing seasons to 17, the longest such current streak among any teams in the four major North American pro leagues. This despite the fact that their brand-new ballpark is considered one of the best, if not the best, park in the country, a sentiment shared by my friend John Pilarowski who has visited almost all of the major league parks.

Tom Usher of The Lima News opines in today's paper that baseball needs the type of revenue-sharing that football has. Football has a huge pile of revenue each year from all of its TV contracts with the networks, and shares this equally among all the teams. Baseball, by contrast, shares the national TV revenues, but unfortunately teams keep their local revenue, which for big-market teams like the Yankees is huge. One wonders if all of those yahoos who keep whining about creeping socialism in our country are criticizing football, which is purely socialistic in the way it is structured financially.

No comments: