Sunday, February 08, 2009

Will MLB become another WWF?

After 40+ years of creative cooperation between National Football League officials and their Players’ Union, the NFL dominates the American professional sports landscape at a level of popularity that is the envy of all other sports leagues. Throughout the same 40+ years most of what we’ve seen between the Office of MLB and their Players’ Union is contention, distrust, legal wrangling, player strikes, bad leadership, bad management, scapegoating, finger-pointing, and media spin. Is it any wonder that one of the major consequences of this uncooperative history is that the former “national pastime” is well on its way to a level of credibility rivaling that of professional wrestling? MLB officials have been so spineless that the US government has had to threaten intervention to get them to do drug testing to save their own sport. Then, when MLB finally does drug testing there are no uniform and consistent consequences for those who fail. When evidence of drug abuse does surface, what is the reaction of the MLB Players’ Union? To work WITH the league to discipline offenders and clean up the sport? Not hardly. The MLBPA is much more concerned to protect the guilty than it is in supporting the clean players and protecting the health, reputation, and public regard of the sport. How long will MLB survive when its leaders remain more interested in juiced homer run hitters than a clearly legitimate sport? What are today’s young parents supposed to say to their baseball-fan-kids in the future about this era? “Well son, many of the most famous players cheated, they took drugs, the league looked the other way, many of the career statistics for this era are bogus, but the league never wanted to figure out who was clean and who was not and so there is no way to know which players, which teams, and which statistics are honest and which ones are not?” I can’t imagine an answer like that is going to inspire a next generation of fans (other than those who follow professional wrestling.) How heartbreaking for lifelong baseball fans, like me.