Thursday, December 13, 2012

It's Hard Out There for Off-Season Sports Fans

From Bill Dwyre, at the Los Angeles Times, "Baseball off-season can be tough on fans who see favorite players jump ship":
The most intriguing game that baseball plays is not hitting and pitching. It is musical chairs.

This is the sport's funny season. But unlike golf, where the funny season was simply a time for Freddie Couples to make more money for Christmas shopping, baseball's is real and serious.

So serious, as a matter of fact, that we actually might feel sorry for baseball writers.

They spend seven months a year, on expense account, watching a warm-weather game from the best seats in the house, with hot dogs nearby. Then, when the season ends and it's time to rest and re-introduce themselves to family, the real work begins. The stadiums are replaced by cellphones embedded in ears and daily dealings with lawyers, agents, rationalizing general managers and Scott Boras.

Great newspapers should pay them reasonable salaries for the season and a hefty supplement for the funny season. A Boras Bonus.

The pawn in all this is the fan. He is wired to be loyal to his local heroes. He is encouraged to purchase the jersey of his favorite player ($79.95 at the stadium store) and be sure to get his tickets early. This will be the year, he is told. The team is there for his viewing pleasure. Of course, next year, the team will be there again for his viewing pleasure. It will just be a vastly different team.

To be clear, this isn't an attempt to identify good guys or bad guys. This isn't a anti-greedy-player or anti-greedy-owner rant. In the airheaded, overused term of the day, baseball's situation is what it is.

The news comes daily. Fingers point in all directions.

Michael Young is now a Philadelphia Phillie? He had Texas Ranger carved into his heart. The pride of Bishop Amat High spent 12 years as Mr. Ranger RBI. If you were an Angels fan and saw him at the plate with another Ranger on base, you just jotted down a run in your scorecard.

Kevin Youkilis is now a New York Yankee? Has he really joined the evil empire, as did Johnny Damon a few years ago, leaving Boston Red Sox fans speechless and suicidal. Sure, Youkilis made a brief stop with the Chicago White Sox, but he was Boston through and through. Expect jersey burnings around Fenway.

We just got used to Mike Napoli as a Ranger, after a nice run of being the power behind the plate for the Angels. But nope. Throw away that jersey. Napoli is now a Red Sox.

Ah, and so is Shane Victorino. It never seemed quite right to see him in a Dodgers uniform. He was a Phillie, a tough-guy-in-a-tough-city player. Now he is a Bostonian.

Albert Pujols, the best of the best, after all those years in Cardinals red, the modern-day Stan Musial, both in performance and local image, in an Angels' uniform? Good for Southern California, but weird nevertheless.
Yeah, and Pujols had a rough start last season. It takes a while getting used to new lineups.

More at the link.