Baseball drives me crazy sometimes. I feel like in today’s era, the game has changed so much from what made it so great.Sure, the lockout sucked and didn’t do anything, in my opinion, to …
Baseball drives me crazy sometimes.
I feel like in today’s era, the game has changed so much from what made it so great.
Sure, the lockout sucked and didn’t do anything, in my opinion, to make the game better.
Bases are bigger, there’s a universal designated hitter and defensive shifts are now banned.
While the specifics of banning shifts and a universal designated hitter can be addressed, my biggest beef with what the game has become has to do with my beloved Cincinnati Reds.
For 32 years, I’ve sat in baseball purgatory, wondering if I would ever see another championship brought back to the Queen City.
In 2012, Cincinnati had arguably its best team in 20 years and actually got up 2-0 in the NLDS round against eventual World Series champion San Francisco.
Since then, the Reds ownership hasn’t been committed to paying big name players needed to compete in today’s game.
In fact, just this past week, the Reds blew up arguably the most competitive roster in a decade because owner Bob Castellini simply refuses to commit to winning.
It costs money to be an owner in a league without a salary cap and at the end of the day, you’ve got to be willing to put ink on the check and deliver for your fans and your city.
Instead, Castellini traded off several fan favorites in what baseball pundits across the league called a massive salary dump and firesale.
While there’s certainly a business side of the game and small market clubs often struggle to retain big name players, this is the same old song and dance that Reds fans have been subjected to for years.
The only player left from the 2012 playoff team is first baseman Joey Votto, who is now a 15-year veteran approaching age 40.
Now what does all this have to do with anything?
Freddie Freeman, the 2020 MVP, just a single offseason after helping lead Atlanta to its first World Series title in 26 years became a free agent, much to the dismay of Braves fans across the land.
This is where the ugly business of baseball takes hold.
Atlanta simply wasn’t going to pay Freeman the big paycheck he was shopping for, which ultimately left only big market clubs, like the Dodgers, Yankees and Red Sox, in the hunt for the former Atlanta first baseman.
It just strikes me odd that in an era with baseball fans and viewership leaving the sport in droves, something needs to be addressed to put fans in the stands and keep them there.
On one hand, you have a fan favorite like Freeman who willingly leaves his club for Los Angeles, who offered up a six-year, $162 million deal.
On the other hand, you have penny pusher owners like Castellini who don’t want to pay much above league minimum deals, and ships out fan favorites to save money for himself.
I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t know how you can successfully address both ends of the spectrum.
What I do know is this—without fans, there is no game. Both players and owners alike need to keep that in mind when it comes time to sign a new contract or write a check.
Chris Siers is sports editor of the Times-Gazette. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.