April 01, 2009
So I'm not sure when 'complaining about baseball' passed actual 'baseball' as America's favorite pastime, but I don't think there's any argument that it has.
Want more proof? On Tuesday night, the Associated Press released a poll that focused on the "concerns" of baseball "fans" as we approach a new season.
After reading through its findings, I came away pretty convinced that most responding "fans" think that baseball is the worst thing ever invented, anywhere, and that the sport is drastically reducing the quality of life for all Americans.
The laundry list of complaints was a long and familiar one. High ticket prices were the biggest concern (45 percent), followed by player salaries (29 percent), steroids (19 percent), the length of games (6 percent) and Ozzie Guillen's potty mouth (whatever percentage made up by my mother) were all cited as reasons for staying away from the sport.
But, really, what was the news here? Everyone's been complaining about all of those topics for going on a decade now. Yes, they're all problems that MLB should be focusing on and they annoy me from time to time, too. I wish we could push a magic button so that Wrigley Field bleacher tickets could go back to the day-of-game $6 I paid in high school. Maybe I could go to more games then.
At the same time, I wish that poll would have also asked fans about the best things about being a baseball fan in 2009, because that list is just as long. We can watch or listen to almost every game during the season (those dumb blackout rules notwithstanding). We can jump online and instantly find any statistic or thousands of websites to find other fans and talk about the game. Eight different teams have won the past nine World Series and we're watching the games in the most comfortable, clean and beautiful ballparks ever built. It's great.
But instead of celebrating that, we get the AP quoting the nation's whiniest people:
"The prices at the concession stands are insane," Cleveland fan Larry Jameson complained at spring training in Goodyear, Ariz. "Eight bucks for a beer. My wife bought a T-shirt. It cost her 22 bucks. She was going to get me a golf shirt. It was 55 bucks. I said forget about it, we need a plane ticket home."
Give me a break, Larry. (Honestly, can you tell this article/poll touched a nerve with me?) Yeah, it sucks to pay $60 to get inside a ballpark, but how much do you think it costs to watch a bunch of guys sing Frankie Valli songs for two hours? Answer: $250 for Mom's birthday.
And don't even get me started on that whole "everything else is so expensive" grousing. Yeah, you might not be able to get out of paying $18 to park, but most stadiums let you bring food inside so you don't have to pay that $5.25 for a hot dog. It isn't your birthright to buy a $10 golf shirt at the game, either. Do what the rest of us do and check eBay when you get home.
As for tickets, the Internet has made finding bargains better than ever. Thousands of seats are floating through the market for all 81 home game and — guess what? — often times the demand isn't greater than the supply. You just have to learn how to take advantage of the deals on Craigslist, Stubhub or wherever else tickets are posted. Heck, you can get into more ballparks than you think for less than $10 at the team's actual box office.
You just have to try a bit harder to make things work for you because a money-making business sure isn't. Of course, that'd require you to stop complaining about baseball for a few minutes and I don't see that happening. It's the new American way, after all.
(Phew. I gotta say — that felt good.)