Upset over baseball strike? Just grow up and get a life

September 09, 1994|By ROGER SIMON

I'll let you in on a dirty little secret, one that guys aren't supposed to admit:

Most of us don't care about the baseball strike.

That's right. We don't care if it ends tomorrow or next year.

We don't care if the players win or the owners win.

We just don't care.

To me, it's like reading about some tractor strike in a Baltic country. If it ends soon, swell. If it doesn't, that's OK, too. (P Doesn't change my life.

I don't dislike baseball. I have an average interest in sports. And going to the ballpark can be a great day.

But getting tickets to see the Orioles play, especially on a weekend, is virtually impossible.

So that means watching baseball on TV and baseball on TV has become a snooze.

All the instant replays and tricky camera angles and time-killing commentary cannot hide the fact that the average baseball game now takes an incredible three hours to play, up a half-hour from 10 years ago.

Sit in front of the TV for three hours to watch a baseball game? People who have that much time on their hands need something more than baseball. They need a life.

According to a recent CBS poll, interest in major league baseball has dropped by a third over the last five years, with non-fans now outnumbering fans by a 3-to-2 margin.

Baseball is not America's pastime. It is America's time past.

There simply is too much competition for our attention for baseball to dominate our lives anymore.

A baseball strike just means one fewer sport to watch.

Less than two weeks into the strike, one of the most-awaited games in college football, Nebraska vs. West Virginia, was nationally televised.

Which served to remind everyone: Hey, football is back!

The professional football season officially began last weekend, and in October we will have hockey (unless they go on strike), and in November we will have basketball.

And if you don't like classic sports, there are plenty of new ones. On ESPN the other day, I spent a few minutes watching large-wheeled, semi-amphibious trucks race through about 4 feet of water, throwing up huge spumes of spray.

Then I switched back to the U.S. Open tennis championship. You can find a tennis or golf tournament on the tube virtually every week.

Baseball?

Nice while it lasted.

I know there are sports fanatics out there and players of Rotisserie baseball and the fat kids in gym who couldn't climb the rope but always dreamed about being pro athletes who are in a great deal of pain over the baseball strike.

But to them, I have two words of solace: Grow up.

Ken Burns, who brought us 11 hours of television on the Civil War, is going to bring us 18 1/2 hours on baseball later this month.

I am sure he thought baseball would be played while his show was running, but maybe this is poetic justice.

We can now look on baseball as we look on the Civil War: as history.

Federal mediators recently asked President Clinton to appoint former President Jimmy Carter to arbitrate the strike and save the season.

That's right: Having last used Carter to negotiate with the North Koreans to avert nuclear war, Clinton was now supposed to use him on a baseball strike. And maybe after that, Carter can do something about the mail service. It's really lousy.

Clinton refused, which was one of the best decisions he has made as president.

As with all strikes, each side is blaming the other in the baseball strike:

The owners are incredibly greedy, wanting protection from what other businesses don't get protection from: the effect of marketplace competition.

The players are incredibly greedy, making high salaries, yet charging fans for autographs (when not throwing firecrackers at small children.) Was this a year when players were going to set records? Yeah. Soup up the baseball and shrink the strike zone and players will set records.

Did a miscalculation lead to this strike?

Did the owners miscalculate the seriousness of the players?

Did the players miscalculate the the resolve of the owners?

No. Both sides miscalculated us.

They confused us with people who give a damn.

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