Oh, America. Scarred and wounded so many times, you bravely struggle forward. Through the slings and arrows of wars and revolutions, through the inept ministrations of your own sons and daughters, you hold your head high and look for a greater tomorrow and a brighter future.
I am a relatively-recently-minted permanent resident of the US, though I have spent a number of years here over the course of my life. As something of an outsider, there are things that I don’t know that I probably should, but there are also things I see that others may not notice simply through familiarity.
While I am not yet a fully-fledged American, I hold a cause in common with Americans: that of building a better America. In this spirit, I have been using this blog to present my views on many aspects of American culture. Politics, religion, professional sports, minority issues, business, music and a host of other topics receive the dubious benefit of my reporting, and perhaps emerge a little refreshed from it.
Let us start on a lighter note than most: that of professional sports in this country.
What could be more American than baseball? Few other sports could truly claim to be the national game. Few events cause American emotions to run higher than the ninth inning of the seventh game of the World Series. A single hit, at the right time, can make grown men across the country dance or make them cry.
As an Englishman, I wasn’t taught at an early age how to throw, to bat, to catch. I never harbored dreams of being a Yankee or a Red Sok (I’m assuming this to be the singular). Shortly after my 18th birthday, however, I moved to Boston. I got an apartment with a view of Fenway Park from my kitchen window. It was around that time that Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were breaking records left and right. It was an exciting time for baseball. Still, one question remained for me. This question has been hotly debated for years. It has engaged the minds of more lay-philosophers than evolution, than religion, than the meaning of life itself. More important than why the World Series is solely for teams from North America, more pressing than why someone would willingly submit to a nickname like “A-Rod”, the question is…
Who is it that really, truly sucks? The Red Sox, or the Yankees?
Sports merchandising has rarely seen greater profits than it does today. Replica uniforms and signed memorabilia fetch enormous prices. However, one cannot help noting the ever-expanding sub-industry that has spawned around the phrases “Red Sox Suck” and “Yankees Suck”. This in and of itself, through bumper stickers, shirts, mugs, mouse pads and hats, has become a ten-million-dollar industry. Add in the revenues from commentary on individual players (for example, the great Derek-Jeter-Sucks period) and we are looking at closer to twenty million.
In terms of sales, the Red Sox currently have the edge. There are far stronger sales of “Yankees Suck” items than of “Red Sox Suck” items. This must, however, be taken with a pinch of salt; for 140 years, this nation has harbored aggrieved Confederate families, who are probably snapping up “Yankees Suck” bumper stickers with a cavalier disregard of their actual sporting import. After all, it must make a change from all those “The South Will Rise Again” stickers on truck bumpers. So we may never truly know.
There are a few other things of particular note about baseball. One of those things is the popular sentiment that the players get paid way, way too much. After all, they spend their whole day just hitting little balls. Easy, right? There’s no way they should earn as much money as, say, someone who invests a great deal of time writing thought-provoking blog posts. But it’s great entertainment. Especially when we spend the money it takes to win.
If we’re all serious about reducing baseball players’ salaries, there’s only one way to make it happen. Stop watching the games on TV. Stop buying the tickets. Stop buying the replica uniforms and the signed memorabilia. Stop feeding your money into that business. Throw out your “Derek Jeter Sucks” banner. Stop teaching your kids to throw and bat and catch.
No? Didn’t think so.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go somewhere quiet to meditate upon which team it is that, in actual fact, sucks.
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