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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Baseball Historian: Greed is Driving Force in Baseball

Nothing is free, man.

br

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.

Repoz Posted: August 21, 2012 at 05:27 AM | 22 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: business, history

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   1. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: August 21, 2012 at 06:15 AM (#4213441)
I feel so used. I'll never watch another baseball game again.
   2. God Posted: August 21, 2012 at 06:30 AM (#4213444)
The Greed murder was definitely the best one in that movie, followed by Sloth.
   3. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 21, 2012 at 07:22 AM (#4213456)
There may be no “I” in baseball, but there are dollar signs. Lots of them.

Interestingly, the more players get paid the more popular MLB seems to become.
   4. TomH Posted: August 21, 2012 at 07:50 AM (#4213468)
because baseball in this way is so unlike, say, football or basketball. Or boxing. Or movie acting. Or CEOs. Or life. Yeah.
   5. BochysFingers Posted: August 21, 2012 at 08:09 AM (#4213477)
Back in my day, we'd wear an onion around our belt, as that was the style.

EDIT: RTFA, it is all kinds of stupid.
   6. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: August 21, 2012 at 09:11 AM (#4213509)
Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures, the essence of the evolutionary spirit.
   7. jack the seal clubber (on the sidelines of life) Posted: August 21, 2012 at 09:14 AM (#4213510)
Unlike, say, the NBA; where players only compete for the love of the game, completely askewing endorsements, money or fame.

Why does baseball always take the brunt of all the pseudo-intellectuals like this while football and basketball are free of criticism? Is there any sport more corrupted by money and hype than basketball, with their ESPN media whores alternating between ripping and worshipping Lebron?
   8. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 21, 2012 at 09:23 AM (#4213520)
I don't think money and hype(?) have "corrupted" basketball, either. The game's doing great.

The game (and this applies to basketball, baseball, football, soccer, and on and on) would not be doing better if the people who own the teams got to keep a much higher percentage of the revenues for themselves.
   9. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: August 21, 2012 at 09:33 AM (#4213529)
Why does baseball always take the brunt of all the pseudo-intellectuals like this while football and basketball are free of criticism?

There's a saying that baseball is so popular because everybody thinks they can play it, even intellectual non-athletic types. You have to be big and/or tall to play football or basketball; baseball, not so much. And of course it's been around much longer: professional baseball started a good half-century before the NFL and three quarters of a century before the NBA. So, lots and lots of people have written bazillions of words about baseball over the years, and they will continue to do so, even if the NFL or the NBA outstrips MLB in popularity.
   10. jack the seal clubber (on the sidelines of life) Posted: August 21, 2012 at 10:48 AM (#4213616)
There's a saying that baseball is so popular because everybody thinks they can play it, even intellectual non-athletic types. You have to be big and/or tall to play football or basketball; baseball, not so much. And of course it's been around much longer: professional baseball started a good half-century before the NFL and three quarters of a century before the NBA. So, lots and lots of people have written bazillions of words about baseball over the years, and they will continue to do so, even if the NFL or the NBA outstrips MLB in popularity.


very well put, RMc.

I don't think I ever suggested that basketball would be better if the owners got to keep a greater percentage of the revenues and am not sure how my comment is interpreted that way unless you are looking for a meaning that wasn't there, MCoA. My meaning is that when the media manufactures "events" such as the Lebron/Wade move, for example. Most NBA "fans" can't name ten players in the league; their interest is mainly determined by whatever controversy ESPN can dredge up in order to get rating points.
   11. jack the seal clubber (on the sidelines of life) Posted: August 21, 2012 at 10:50 AM (#4213618)
BTW I love Alexandria Old Town....great place in the summer.....
   12. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: August 21, 2012 at 11:02 AM (#4213623)
The Water Historian: Wetness is Important Characteristic of Water
   13. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 21, 2012 at 11:09 AM (#4213632)
I don't think I ever suggested that basketball would be better if the owners got to keep a greater percentage of the revenues and am not sure how my comment is interpreted that way unless you are looking for a meaning that wasn't there, MCoA.
Oh, sorry, I was unclear. The second comment was meant to be a general one, not directed at you. I didn't think you were arguing the opposite
Most NBA "fans" can't name ten players in the league; their interest is mainly determined by whatever controversy ESPN can dredge up in order to get rating points.
I think this is untrue. NBA fans I know are just as informed as fans of any other sport.
   14. jack the seal clubber (on the sidelines of life) Posted: August 21, 2012 at 11:19 AM (#4213641)
Oh, sorry, I was unclear. The second comment was meant to be a general one, not directed at you. I didn't think you were arguing the opposite


Cool. I admit to an anti-nba bias particularly since the Wizards could not beat Longwood at this point.
   15. Swedish Chef Posted: August 21, 2012 at 11:39 AM (#4213663)
Good thing there's college sports where values rule and greed is banished.
   16. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: August 21, 2012 at 12:38 PM (#4213736)
So, do you just wake up one morning and think "Eureka! Greed is ruining baseball! I gotta record this insight for posterity right away!"
   17. GEB4000 Posted: August 21, 2012 at 03:30 PM (#4214007)
I love articles that, with a few minor alterations, could be written a hundred years ago.
   18. jack the seal clubber (on the sidelines of life) Posted: August 21, 2012 at 03:46 PM (#4214028)
I love articles that, with a few minor alterations, could be written a hundred years ago.


By gum, those dadburned horseless carriages really get my goat.

Besides, as Gordon Gekko said, greed is good.
   19. Karl from NY Posted: August 21, 2012 at 04:03 PM (#4214058)
Interestingly, the more players get paid the more popular MLB seems to become.

I'm not sure if that was tongue-in-cheek, but we all know the correlation goes the other way, right? The more popular MLB becomes, the more money a player's performance is worth, so they get paid more.
   20. King Berenger Posted: August 21, 2012 at 08:23 PM (#4214325)
Was expecting this article to be by John Thorn. Sadface.
   21. Walt Davis Posted: August 21, 2012 at 08:33 PM (#4214329)
Why does baseball always take the brunt of all the pseudo-intellectuals like this while football and basketball are free of criticism?

In fairness, that's addressed in the first line of the excerpt -- "national pastime." How much of that is the result of baseball marketing vs. a long history of bloviating by historians might be an interesting question for historians of bloviation and marketing. Add in baseball's much longer history and (in a self-supporting cycle) the long history of overdone baseball histories and who isn't tempted to pile on. But it's not like Ken Burns had any reason to think "Ken Burns' Football" would be part of his "38 hours of the American character reflected through B&W photography and the ramblings of Shelby Foote."

Football was kinda going for "America's sport" for a while ... and from my NZ/Oz experience, I think foreigners do think football before baseball when they think "American sport." I think that's a Super Bowl thing, they're all kinda fascinated by the Super Bowl.

Following on the wedding, the jubilee then the Olympics, the only thing London can do now is the Super Bowl.
   22. GregD Posted: August 21, 2012 at 08:35 PM (#4214330)
The Water Historian: Wetness is Important Characteristic of Water
Was that authored by the same person who wrote this real-life NYT story: Dads Often Find It Difficult To Eat Healthy

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