Old Flame, Same Ball Game

Lenny KosteckiCorrespondent IApril 7, 2009

HOUSTON - APRIL 06:  A fan holds up a giant baseball glove before a game between the Chicago Cubs and the Houston Astros on Opening Day on April 6, 2009 at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The start of a new baseball season is like getting a call from an old flame, all drunk and horny. I don’t want to answer, but my hormones sometimes get the best of me. You see, the affair ended for me in 1994, abruptly and with hard feelings.

It wasn’t easy giving up on such an emotional attachment, but things hadn’t been right for some time. There were five relatively minor misunderstandings that preceded the big misunderstanding of ’81. We barely made it through that fiasco.

Then in ’94 my love stood me up on a date I eagerly anticipated. It was the last dip on a speeding roller coaster of emotion. There were no lawyers or contracts involved, no looking back, just a big sigh as Major League Baseball exited my life.

If you were to ask me what happened, I’d have a hard time coming up with a single issue. But I can tell you it all came to a head a number of years ago when a room lined with arrogant representatives nixed the World Series, singling out baseball as the first sport in history to cancel its postseason due to a labor dispute.

How can you cancel the World Series? To me, it was like burning the church based on an argument over holy water.

As usual, there was plenty of finger pointing.

It’s difficult for me to ever take the position of labor when the labor union consists of pampered egos playing the roles of millionaires.

In my mind, there is no reason to strike when you are reimbursed to travel first class and eat at the finest restaurants, all while cashing checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars each payday. Perhaps it’s just me, but I find that type of behavior arrogant and inexcusable. Period.

The only thing worse than labor in this case is Management. They’ve perfected the art of stretching the financial truth. And they have no trouble undermining the position of their fellow owners if it suits them.

Of course, the aforementioned labor has conveniently labeled any action by owners that doesn’t suit them as collusion, a no-no in labor agreements. What’s a millionaire’s club to do?

Have you noticed I’ve used ‘millionaires’ more than once here?

Speaking of millionaires, we can’t overlook the agents, who are basically well-educated agriculturists fertilizing a testosterone farm. Imagine that, lawyers in the midst of an untidy bit of business.

They whisper sweet nothings into the ears of their herd, inflating them with an overdrawn account of self-importance. Oh, and they absorb 10-15 percent of the take. Very tidy.

Of course, it all comes at the expense of the fans, both figuratively and literally. If money talks, the fans are the vocal chords. That’s why I decided that I’d had enough after ’94. I’ve been to a handful of games since, mostly out of some sense of social obligation.

I even came fairly close to catching No. 68 by No. 25 back in ’98. But that was as a member of my brother’s wedding party; I find that excusable.

I still watch an occasional game on TV and follow the home team in the newspaper; you can’t go cold turkey without some kind of transfusion. But my unbridled joy for Major League Baseball has been bridled.

Notice I said Major League Baseball. The scoundrels that make up the game today have done little to poison my passion for the game itself. I love to watch the innocence of Little League, or the passion of high school, American Legion and college ball.

The beauty of the game will never change for me. What has changed is the stage. I don’t see myself returning to Major League ballparks anytime soon. Truth be told, I don’t miss the displays as much as I thought I might.

How difficult is it to give up a night out that can cost more than your health plan?