Friday, October 1, 2010

Tenth Inning

The latest installment of Ken Burns' baseball series showed on PBS this week, and although there weren't really any surprises, I thought the film did a reasonably creditable job of explaining the two big crises of the last 15 years: first the players' strike of 1994-95, and then the ongoing steroids scandal.

The discrepancy between the ideals of athletic competition and the demands of  predatory capitalism seem impossible to reconcile. If you see professional baseball as a billion-dollar entertainment industry, it is hardly surprising that the players will confront management over salary and hiring rights, or juice themselves up to gain another year or two's worth of income for their families before being tossed onto the data-driven scrapheap of  baseball history.

The film's philosophic conclusion is also probably accurate: such adversities, like the numerous and truly horrible scandals that afflicted professional baseball in earlier decades, will blow over with time, at least till some new scam comes along. The bottom line is that people simply want their baseball, and as for the rest it's pecunia radix malorum est.

Naturally I enjoyed the recap of the fabulous 2004 victories of the Boston Red Sox—whose confused destiny I have been following intermittently since 1948—first against the goddam Yankees, and then against the hapless St. Louis Cardinals in the Series.

I could have wished for a similar review of the Bosox destruction of Denver in 2007, which was also pretty exciting, and the like of which I fear we Boston fans may never live long enough to see again.


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