Baseball is not the same game it was when I was a kid. That's no surprise. A sport should evolve over a generation or two.
Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth prove that baseball players of earlier generations were certainly not saints. When I read Jim Bouton's Ball Four as an impressionable teenager, I quickly realized that my Yankee heroes were very flawed men--an important life lesson that has served me well. Baseball has always had its scandals and woes. That's nothing new and not the point. Something else is wrong.
And while people may not like the bloated Yankee payroll, the fact is that Yankees luxury tax payments help keep small market teams afloat. Those criticisms are partisan and ring hollow in my ears. The Yankees' business model is very sound and they make tons of money. As I see it, most complaints like this are rivalry based, or just old fashioned envy. It is to be expected.
While free agency changed the game in profound ways, some good, some not so good, the marriage of sports and entertainment has been disastrous, especially for a non-TV sport like baseball. Since ESPN, Disney, and ABC now serve the same corporate master, the result is the gross thing pictured here--the athlete-celebrity kissing himself in the mirror for a tell-all piece in a men's magazine. Since when did male sports fans start reading tell-all articles like those in People? That is what happens when sports marries entertainment. The star baseball player is known for his celebrity power as much as for his athleticism.
Steroids are bad enough--using them is cheating, plain and simple. But the self-idolatry pictured above (yes, its a campy photo for an article and wasn't intended to be taken too seriously--Click here: A-Rod gives a few details to Details | The LoHud Yankees Blog), is one of the clearest indications yet of what is wrong with professional sports in general, and baseball in particular.
What happened to those little boys (like in the Sandlot), who never really grew up, playing an absolutely great game for the sheer fun of it?
Thanks to ABC, Disney, and ESPN, we get A-Rod kissing himself in a mirror. But that is the spirit of the age, isn't it?