America loves a winner. So what’s going on during this year’s Major League Baseball playoffs is nothing short of amazing.
The Chicago Cubs, the original Lovable Losers, have awaken a nation of hibernating fans through the sheer possibility of making their first World Series since 1945. It’s not just longtime fans either – the Cubs are now “America’s Team.”
So now that “Cubs Fever” has swept the nation, is the national pastime back?
I wouldn’t be so sure.
Whether or not the Cubs win it all and end “The Curse of the Billy Goat,” or if the Red Sox can beat the New York Yankees and remove “The Curse of the Bambino,” the most important thing is what MLB does next. Yes, people are paying attention, attending games, and ratings are up, but we have seen all of this before.
Pure greed poisoned professional baseball from within and caused the 1994 strike and World Series cancellation. Fans have given baseball several opportunities to make amends, and MLB just keeps on spoiling the fun.
Cal Ripken, Jr.’s quest to break the consecutive games played streak, Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa – and later Barry Bonds – going after the single-season home run record provided a spark to fan interest, but MLB leadership failed to capitalize on any of that momentum.
Many ideas circulate about what can help baseball recapture its old glory.
Some propose an end to the designated hitter, the Questec umpire evaluation system and salary arbitration. Others call for revenue sharing, a salary cap, reformed draft, and shorter games.
In truth, it really comes down to money. The haves (Yankees, Atlanta Braves) are light years ahead of the have-nots (Kansas City Royals, Tampa Bay Devil Rays) who cannot field a competitive team for any sustained period of time.
Instead of providing a feasible financial structure for small market and big market teams to compete, baseball Commissioner Bud Selig called for contraction of the Montreal Expos and Minnesota Twins. This was properly ridiculed by fans and media, considering Washington, DC and Portland, OR have actively sought teams for years.
NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has shown that getting everyone (players union, owners, league office, referees, broadcasting networks) on the same page to promote true competition results in a huge national following, and lots of revenue from attendance, merchandise and big TV contracts. Today, football is America’s passion.
Perhaps Mr. Selig should call Mr. Tagliabue and ask for an internship.
Hakimu Davidson, 23, is a graduate MBA student from Washington, D.C. He can be reached at Hakimu98@AOL.com