As always, follow the money!
Forgive my insensitivity, but what happened Thursday night at Citi Field was easier done than said because it was a matter of money. In this case, not much of it was at stake.
And every person at or near the top of sports who publicly declares his or her support for Thursday’s Marlins-Mets race-based boycott is full of it. Whatever the issue or cause, it’s a lot easier to be righteous when there are no paying customers to send home. Timing was everything.
This season, with no tickets, tack-on fees, parking, hideously marked-up eats and drinks to sell, Thursday there was no one to rip off except cable and satellite TV subscribers, who have been conditioned to bait-and-switch abuses.
For better, worse and all that lies between, here’s the problem:
Fans don’t care nearly as much as they did. They’ve learned to live without sports, especially in their current diminished condition. They’ve learned that they’re taken for granted. And more and more they’ve determined that they won’t pay another dime to attend games or to watch them on TV.
Thursday’s game-time walkout in protest of police brutality may have been a sincere group action or largely based in peer pressure, but judging from the response of readers, none much cared. None were outraged or even disappointed that there wasn’t going to be a game to watch.
Baseball, regardless of social conditions, has become a take-it or leave-it proposition, and it seems clear that increasing numbers are resolved, if not tacitly urged, to leave it.
MLB, like the NBA and NFL, has allowed its fan base — its financial blood flow — to erode.
Fans can’t help but apply Thursday’s walkout to their own realities: “Would I be allowed to simply stand up and walk out of work in protest of anything and not face suspension or termination?” And they conclude that they could not, or would not — even at a small fraction of big-league pay.
At the same time, our sports are growing desperate to reverse their downward viewership and incomes by artificial means.
The financial outlook for pro sports is such that every telecast is now loaded with sports gambling come-ons and in-house signage from gambling operations — many offering quick, easy ways to become rich.
Those with betting action — those who would watch only to follow their wagers — have become sports’ best customers even if they don’t see the game, only their action.
And it’s all good with a shameless phony such as Roger Goodell — who once testified that gambling places kids, families and communities in peril, then claimed that “fantasy” sports gambling is not gambling, and now supports “our cut” gambling on NFL games with both fists until “fans’” clutch only lint.
Last week, Fox announced that its Howie Long will become the face and voice — the “brand ambassador” — of its own gambling operation, Fox Bet Sports Sports Book.
Long: “I always look for ways to entertain, educate and enhance the sports experience for fans. The guys over at Fox Bet share in my commitment to that approach. They’re amping up the sports-fan experience and having a little fun along the way.”
What another bag of garbage. Sports books, like casinos, would go broke or never open if they only served those out for “a little fun.” With odds in the books’ favor, they want customers to bet a lot, lose a lot and often. Long doesn’t know this?
Gambling on games is an educational experience? Sure is. It’s called learning the hard way.
But back to player boycotts. It didn’t matter Thursday if the act was noble, or even if it had been clearly resolved that the alleged guilty party or parties in Kenosha, Wis. — cops — were in fact guilty of a race-based shooting.
Increasingly, those who once most mattered to sports — fans, patrons — don’t care about the sports that so clearly and in so many instances don’t care about them.
No logical person doubts Dominic Smith’s tearful sincerity Wednesday. But ultimately those who tuned in to watch a baseball game, perhaps to provide some succor from current social chaos no matter how badly big-league baseball skills have been allowed to erode, were not crushed when the game wasn’t played.
Now it can be played as part of a doubleheader, seven innings each. In recent past seasons MLB teams charged two admissions to attend nine-inning, day-night double headers in order to soak fans, but COVID-19 has deprived MLB of such naked greed.
Thursday’s Mets game called off at game time? Among the fans in my purview, the reason, right or wrong, didn’t matter. It was hardly worth a shrug.
See what I mean? Below average now norm
In a seven-inning game Thursday, the Giants’ Joey Bart struck out in all three at-bats. Bart was the team’s designated hitter, a spot in the order increasingly seen as a designated swinger — though added to avoid pitchers being routinely struck out.
Reader Dennis Daly, still reeling over Alex Rodriguez’s claim on ESPN that baseball has never been more fun to watch, provided the starting batting averages prior to last Tuesday’s Reds-Brewers:
Reds: .200, .253, .154, .214, .194, .094, .315, .179, .270.
Brewers: .227, .198, .243, .217, .208, .175, .268, .186, .246.
Aaron Boone played for the 2003 Yankees — when Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina and David Wells totaled eight complete games.
Would Boone have pulled any of them after five innings, 66 pitches and with a 1-0 lead as he did with Masahiro Tanaka last week, before the Yanks lost, 2-1? Tanaka had allowed no walks three hits.
Tanaka, at 31, was “running out of gas”? Perhaps he has been conditioned by Boone to run dry after just 66 pitches. He’d previously pitched seven complete games for the Yanks.
Of course, the worst part is that Boone is little different from most modern managers. They take turns trying to lose games with needless pitching changes, thus forcing them to run past bedtime.
Can’t beat the ‘rap’
ESPN has proudly announced that its college football “anthem” will be performed by Juice WRLD and Marshmello. Juice chants standard vulgar rap lyrics about assault rifles and sexually exploiting women while referencing black men as the N-word.
ESPN fired tennis analyst Doug Adler as a racist for admiring Venus Williams’ “guerilla tactics” in attacking the net.
Dem. vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris claims the Trump administration is soft on the outrageously oppressive Red Chinese, which may be true.
But if that’s the case, she should be all over the joined-at-the-wallet relationship between the totalitarian communist Chinese and the NBA, including its sneaker-deal players, starting with LeBron James.