Baseball has long marketed itself on the narrative that it is the national pastime, where the true players play for the love of the game over any other alternative gains. To play is to personify purity, gamesmanship, and national pride, among other superlatives. While those things may have occasionally been true, they have been used as window dressing to establish baseball’s public persona since becoming professionalized. There are many things I love about baseball, but there is no denying that one of its primary cornerstones is greed, which seems to be growing stronger every passing day and clouding the future.
Any time there is significant money to be made the lengths people will go to secure their piece of the pie can run the gamut from disappointing to despicable. The average major league player will earn more than $3 million in 2012, and owners stand to make exponentially more with tickets, concessions, merchandise, and television money lining their coffers. Needless to say there is a lot of money to be made and the public has begun to see an onslaught of actions representing pervasive greed in the game. Instead of being seen as individual discrepancies, they should be regarded as part of an expanding epidemic.
...Fans can still find wonderful entertainment and emotional investment in baseball but need to temper their expectations because of the game’s changing landscape. Incidents like those mentioned above are only becoming more commonplace. Disappointment is just a breaking news story away, and only the most optimistic of Pollyannas can now proclaim with a straight face 100% belief in the character of a particular player or team.
The most prevalent attributes in baseball are not talent, desire, or hard work; it’s money and greed. For as long as the game can survive with such enormous sums of money being up for grabs, there is little that should come as a surprise when it comes to what people are willing to do to get their share. There may be no “I” in baseball, but there are dollar signs. Lots of them.