Baseball strike gives us a chance to reduce flab

August 10, 1994|By MIKE ROYKO

"What would happen," Slats Grobnik asked, "if the bartender in this place went on strike? Would I die of thirst, or even worse, of the shakes?"

Of course not. If such a crisis occurred, we could walk down the street to another joint.

"Yeah, but what if every bartender in the city went on strike and no replacements were hired, what would happen then?"

Then we'd go over to your house or mine and get something out of the refrigerator or pantry.

"Yeah, and my wife wouldn't have to phone and ask if I left yet, because I'd already be home."

That's right. But what prompts this line of questioning?

"All this yammering on TV and the radio and in the newspapers about a baseball strike. Like it really matters if these bozos play or not. Who cares?"

Who cares? What an un-American question. Millions of ardent baseball fans care, that's who.

"So what? Who cares if they care?"

So what? Your questions are getting more treasonous by the moment. There are close pennant races yet to be decided. There are players who have a chance to shatter various batting records. There is much drama that is unresolved.

"Yeah, but what difference does it make? It ain't like old coffee grounds, smelly banana peels and throwaway diapers."

What do coffee grounds, banana peels and diapers have to do with anything?

"Because every day in this city, there are thousands of pounds of coffee grounds, banana peels and diapers put out in the alley or by the curb. It's what we call garbage."

I am familiar with garbage, but what does that have to do with baseball?

"I'm trying to tell you. Garbage is more important than baseball."

You sound downright subversive. Have you become a soccer fan?

"No, but if the garbage collectors was going on strike, I'd be worried. When the garbage piles up, the rats come around, and they got fleas with disease, then we might get the plague and there'd be dead bodies stacked up all over the place, which would make for a very depressing summer. But if the baseball season ends early, there ain't one person who would get bit by a flea."

True, but millions of sports fans would suffer emotional trauma, the pain of withdrawal at being deprived of their daily baseball fix.

"Nah, just the opposite. It would do them a lot of good. Just look at the baseball standings and see how many lousy teams there are. What's the difference if their fans are put out of their misery now or later?"

Well, if you're talking about teams like the Cubs, I suppose a strike might be an act of mercy. And it could also avert the constant danger that all three outfielders will run into each other and cause a triple suicide. But what of the fans of the fine teams who are battling it out for the ultimate prize, a World Series victory? Imagine their sense of loss.

"Do them good, too. See, if there's no strike, you get a lot of teams in the playoffs. But then most of them lose, and all of those millions of losing fans get depressed. They yell at their wives, get in barroom brawls, and maybe a few cut their wrists. Happens every year."

That is team loyalty.

"Yeah, but only two teams end up in the World Series. And one of them winds up losing, and all of that team's fans really get depressed because they came so far and they're still losers. So about 90 percent of all baseball fans are going to be miserable before the season is over. And there's always a chance that the fans of the winning team will celebrate by having a riot and raping and burning and looting. And that will get millions of law-abiding people upset because they'll worry about what this country is coming to."

So you're saying that we'd all be better off without a baseball season?

"Absolutely. Look at this country's history. Would the pioneers have gone out West and grabbed all the land if they had baseball and football and basketball? No, they'd have been sitting back in their log cabins, drinking beer and watching some playoffs on TV, instead of going out and stomping Indians. When did we become a country of flabby stiffs? When they invented TV and got everybody hooked on watching other people run around. You think anybody would have gone riding in covered wagons or zapping buffaloes if the World Series was on the tube?"

I hadn't thought of it that way. Then you are saying that a baseball strike would be good for our soft national backbone?

"I don't know about our soft backbone, but it wouldn't do any harm to our flabby national butt."

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