What Have They Done to Sports?

 

Mike Trout is the 29-year-old future Hall of Fame center fielder of the Los Angeles Angels. As a 3-time MVP, he has arguably been the best player in the MLB since his 2012 rookie season, and just at the age of 20.  Although only one month into the 2021 season, Trout is playing his best baseball ever slashing .407/.514/.779.

The sports world that exists in 2021 does not deserve Michael Nelson Trout.

Like a lot of kids, I grew up loving sports. I played football and baseball every year I could, including some summer travel ball. My father was a football fanatic and I some of my earliest sports memories are of the “Greatest Show On Turf”. My Grandpa ran an “NFL Football Pot” where the family made and submitted their picks each week for a chance to win money. I remember seeing Mark McGwire hit a home run during my first ever trip to Busch Stadium. I collected baseball cards and devoured stats. Baseball Tonight was mandatory viewing. Even through college, I was still listening to ESPN Radio almost non-stop.

Then something happened: I stopped caring. I mean, I want to care again, but I struggle to find the passion I used to have. There were signs early on. First, the leagues began to tear themselves apart. Being a biased Missourian, I found it shameful the way the NFL treated the city of St. Louis during the Rams’ departure. The watering down of the rules in the NFL to NBA’ify the game made it harder and harder to watch. The MLB’s push to “improve the pace of play” or “make the game more exciting” only pissed off traditional fans like myself while adding none. Do we really think the product quality coming out of both leagues is better than it was 10 years ago? What about 20 years ago? The cowardliness of the owners and commissioners to stand up to the mobs and players alike led to even further degradation (see team name changes because of “100 plus-year-old cultural insensitivities”).

The programming started to change too. The national media began focusing more and more attention to basketball while baseball (my true love) began to fall to the wayside. Every year or two, the dreadful sport of Soccer is continuously shoved in our face despite America’s year after year rejection of it. Even stories from the NFL became more and more narrowly focused. ESPN turned into People Magazine, but sports. Instead of the games, the stories became more about the scandals, drama, and even worse: the politics.

Contrary to popular belief, there has and will always be politics in sports. I’m wary to be one of those “get the politics out of sports!” people because that’s not possible. What should be possible though is for owners and the leagues to stand up to the mobs and the players. They need to draw a line in the sand instead of letting politics infiltrate every facet of the games.

Part of the problem is that the democratization of our society has bled into our sports and the leagues have been more than happy to let it happen. The easy answer to tough questions is to always do what’s popular, but we know what’s popular isn’t always right. Not long ago, NBA Commissioner David Stern fined a player for violating a league rule that mandated players stand for the National Anthem. Right or wrong, name a commissioner that has the guts to do that today? Is there anybody in their respective league willing to buck their marketing and media departments and put an end to the constant deluge of virtue signaling and moral scolding coming out of their broadcasts? With social media, individual players can acquire levels of power that past player unions could never have dreamed of. Who works for who now?

We’re such a rich and big country, everybody can make enough money without having to appeal to “all sides”. The games play second fiddle to the other concerns. Michael Jordan’s (possibly apocryphal) notion that “Republicans buy sneakers too” seems anathema to our modern Sports Industrial Complex. To me, all this makes for a pretty crummy experience.

I admire Mike Trout. I couldn’t tell you one thing about his politics. Because of that, I doubt very many non-baseball fans can tell you much about him; all I can tell you is he’s really good at playing the game I love.

He deserves better.

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  1. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Leftism destroys everything it touches.

    • #1
  2. Postmodern Hoplite Coolidge
    Postmodern Hoplite
    @PostmodernHoplite

    I’ve given up on Major League Baseball. The All-Star Game fiasco was just too much for me. I have turned my attention to Minor League ‘ball, with a new independent Atlantic League team starting its inaugural season within 10 miles of my home this month.

    I still love baseball, and can’t help but hope that Trout’s season fulfills all its early promise.

    • #2
  3. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Leftism destroys everything it touches.

    How can we get them to touch themselves?

    • #3
  4. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Hear, hear.

    I’ve been trying to find ways to rationalize following the sport since the All-Star decision.  Despite the fact that I’ve had a Hall-of-Fame career making rationalizations, it’s been tough.  And Trout is a perfect example of the conundrum.  I’ve finally settled on listening to radio broadcasts of games as a way to dip my foot in the water without diving in.  I’m sure MLB derives some degree of revenue from my habit, but I won’t hold that against my favorite announcers or the radio airwaves.

    • #4
  5. Preston Storm Coolidge
    Preston Storm
    @PrestonStorm

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Leftism destroys everything it touches.

    How can we get them to touch themselves?

    They eventually do. 

    • #5
  6. Preston Storm Coolidge
    Preston Storm
    @PrestonStorm

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Hear, hear.

    I’ve been trying to find ways to rationalize following the sport since the All-Star decision. Despite the fact that I’ve had a Hall-of-Fame career making rationalizations, it’s been tough. And Trout is a perfect example of the conundrum. I’ve finally settled on listening to radio broadcasts of games as a way to dip my foot in the water without diving in. I’m sure MLB derives some degree of revenue from my habit, but I won’t hold that against my favorite announcers or the radio airwaves.

    Other than NHL, the MLB is probably the least “woke” of the leagues (save the commissioner office and marketing departments). 

    Unfortunately it’s the commissioner office and marketing departments that dictate what we see.

    • #6
  7. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Leftism destroys everything it touches.

    At least, it certainly takes the fun out of everything it touches.

    • #7
  8. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Football will be the last sports vice I give up.

    • #8
  9. Postmodern Hoplite Coolidge
    Postmodern Hoplite
    @PostmodernHoplite

    Stad (View Comment):

    Football will be the last sports vice I give up.

    I’ve shifted my football addiction to College, having been a devoted NFL fan since the age of 11. That has been made easier moving to the South (ACC country, with the SEC behemoth battering at the ramparts).

    • #9
  10. DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) Coolidge
    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!)
    @DonG

    Trout plays in the death valley of sports media.  It is hard for people on the West Coast to have a national following.   If he played for the Yankees or Red Sox or even the Cleveland team, more people would know his name.

    • #10
  11. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Preston Storm (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Leftism destroys everything it touches.

    How can we get them to touch themselves?

    They eventually do.

    They already have.

    • #11
  12. Caltory Thatcher
    Caltory
    @Caltory

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Leftism destroys everything it touches.

    How can we get them to touch themselves?

    There’s definitely a Jeffrey Toobin joke in there.

    • #12
  13. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member
    9thDistrictNeighbor
    @9thDistrictNeighbor

    I’ll be interested to see how this sort of thing affects attendance at games.  I can’t imagine shelling out the amount of money it takes to get a seat at a Yankees game to have to either be seated in the Scarlet Letter section or wear a mask.  

    The governor (Cuomo) insisted that the state’s new seating plan is “not segregation.”

    “We have social distancing rules,” he said. “We have requirements now in restaurants as to capacity and we have rules if you’re vaccinated then X, if you’re not then Y and they are based on public health parameters.”

    • #13
  14. JustmeinAZ Member
    JustmeinAZ
    @JustmeinAZ

    Letting politics on the field (at the beginning of last year’s “season”) did it for me. Rule changes and moving the AS game were just the frosting on the cake. The MLB can go to hell.

    • #14
  15. kylez Member
    kylez
    @kylez

    Also, the anti-climactic and pointless inter-league play. 

    • #15
  16. aardo vozz Member
    aardo vozz
    @aardovozz

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Leftism destroys everything it touches.

    How can we get them to touch themselves?

    Phrasing?

    <caltory’d!)

    • #16
  17. Juliana Member
    Juliana
    @Juliana

    Baseball has become boring. Since the analysts are running the game it’s all about launch angles. So the batters either hit a home run or strike out. No line drives, no hit and run, no stolen bases, no bunts, no complete games for the pitchers. We’ve been Cardinal fans for decades and sorely miss Lou Brock, Ozzie Smith, and the Mad Hungarian. A baseball game is good for insomnia, and seriously, a guy on second in an extra inning tie game? Do the people running the show even know what baseball is?

    I don’t watch basketball, but apparently this has also happened in the NBA.

    • #17
  18. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Preston Storm (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Leftism destroys everything it touches.

    How can we get them to touch themselves?

    They eventually do.

    They already have.

    Harvard faculty, no doubt…

    • #18
  19. navyjag Lincoln
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    That’s why I stick with college football.  Do not recall players kneeling during the national anthem.  Was a bit of an uproar over the U of Texas band playing Eyes of Texas though.  Typical Horns drama. 

    • #19
  20. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    Preston Storm: the dreadful sport of Soccer is continuously shoved in our face despite America’s year after year rejection of it.

    You mean Poverty Ball

    • #20
  21. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA have made it plain they don’t want me as a fan.

    So they have their wish.  Lots of other activities to occupy my time.

    Remember this when the local team comes begging for money for a new stadium.

    • #21
  22. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    I gave up on MLB when they let cheaters win the World Series. 

    • #22
  23. kylez Member
    kylez
    @kylez

    I wonder do those women think they were being less crass than Trump?

    • #23
  24. Buckpasser Member
    Buckpasser
    @Buckpasser

    Juliana (View Comment):

    Baseball has become boring. Since the analysts are running the game it’s all about launch angles. So the batters either hit a home run or strike out. No line drives, no hit and run, no stolen bases, no bunts, no complete games for the pitchers. We’ve been Cardinal fans for decades and sorely miss Lou Brock, Ozzie Smith, and the Mad Hungarian. A baseball game is good for insomnia, and seriously, a guy on second in an extra inning tie game? Do the people running the show even know what baseball is?

    I don’t watch basketball, but apparently this has also happened in the NBA.

    They need to change the name.  It is not baseball anymore.

    • #24
  25. Dr. J Inactive
    Dr. J
    @DrJ

    Thank you so much for writing this, it encapsulates a lot of what I have felt or come to understand.  I gave up the MLB this year too.

    • #25