Baseball’s labor disputes, bad decisions leave fans with no one to root for — not even the game they love

The Super Bowl is set: a matchup of two teams in which have no rooting interest.

These teams bore me so much that I can’t think of a reason to root against either of them.

Maybe I could root against the Los Angeles Rams, who poked St. Louis in the eye and split town, but I no longer a resident of St. Louis and shall always try to do right and be good so God does not make me one again.

Normally, what I do this time of year is focus on the beginning of spring training for Major League Baseball.

Pitchers and catchers were supposed to report Feb. 15 with position players arriving by the 26th.

But, as usual, baseball has found a way to transform from a peaceful pastime to an annoyance not worth the trouble.

The owners locked out the players in a labor dispute that threatens 2022 season.

Wake me when it’s over.

Or don’t.

I don’t care anymore.

Baseball missed its chance to be interesting with the Hall of Fame inductions.

Baseball writers denied Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens enshrinement in the Hall of Fame.

Yawn.

Baseball seems determined to mire itself in mediocrity.

The sport added new rules to speed up games.

The average length of a game went up each of the last three seasons.

A nine-inning ballgame in the 2021 season clocked 3 hours, 10 minutes, and 7 seconds — a record.

You could binge watch three episodes of the new season of “Ozark” in the time it takes to watch a single MLB game.

Batters crush fastballs into the upper decks.

But if the defense put seven fielders in right field and almost no hitters can choke up and poke a single the opposite way.

Where have you gone, Tony Gwynn? Baseball turns its bored eyes to you.

The MLB batting average was .244 in 2021, the lowest since 1972.

Hitters whiffed 42,145 times in 2021.

Every pitcher throws 100 mph, but most only last three innings.

The complete game is practically extinct and the concept of a starter is at hospice.

Two National League pitchers tied for the complete game lead in 2021 — with two.

Three players pitched three complete games in the American League.

Catfish Hunter threw 30 complete games for the New York Yankees in 1975, the year I was born.

Curt Schilling completed 15 games for Philadelphia in 1998, the last year Major League Baseball expanded.

The sports talkers debated steroids, PEDs, questions of character, and all the old, dull arguments about Bonds and Clemons.

They used PEDs.

Nobody cares anymore.

PEDs are a part of baseball history.

Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and scores of others admitted to using “greenies” — locker room slang for amphetamines during their careers.

We mere mortals use PEDs, too. We take pills for everything.

We live in the age of Viagra for crying out loud.

It’s past time we forgive the players of the “steroid era.”

The real reason Bonds and Clemens aren’t in the Hall of Fame is that they were jerks toward the baseball writers.

Everybody hates journalists these days. They were just ahead of their time.

Bonds has the most home runs. He should be in the Hall of Fame.

Clemens won seven Cy Young Awards, 354 games, and struck out 4,672.

He should be in the Hall of Fame.

They aren’t.

Pete Rose has the most hits. He’s banned from the Hall of Fame.

Gambling on the game is a no-no. That’s what got “Shoeless” Joe Jackson banned in the 1919 “Black Sox” scandal.

Rose is an addict. He did his most troubling gambling as a manager. His feats as a player earn him enshrinement, not as manager.

Evidence is thin that Jackson did anything to throw the 1919 World Series, though he did take the gamblers’ money.

Americans once looked upon gambling a sin.

Now, Americans love gambling.

You can’t watch a sporting event without a few dozen commercials offering you a chance to throw your money away by betting on sports.

Many baseball teams broadcast their games on the Bally Sports Network.

Bally’s Corp. is a casino operator.

Let Rose and Jackson in the Hall of Fame, too.

An interruption of play over labor problems could be disastrous for the fading sport.

The last time baseball endured a work stoppage, fans took a long time to come back both in the parks and on TV.

We lost the 1994 playoffs and World Series.

The 1995 World series was watched by an average of more than 28 million people, but a lot more people watched network TV then.

The 2021 World Series drew an average of nearly 12 million per game, up from less than 10 million average the previous season.

The average baseball fan is a 57-year-old man, per a 2017 report.

Baseball is a mess of hypocrisy and foolishness. 

In that way, I suppose, the game reflects the country that spawned it.


Daniel P. Finney writes columns for ParagraphStacker.com, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I continue writing while I pursue my master’s degree and teacher certification.
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Rooting for the Bengals is the artistic choice in NFL playoffs

The pro football season ended Sunday.

That’s technically incorrect.

I am a Chicago Bears fan. The pro football season ended in early October for me.

After that, I shift my attention to teams with the best graphic design in their helmet logos.

I rooted for the Arizona Cardinals for a while. I think that angry red bird in profile is one of the best logos in sports.

Arizona backslid into the playoffs and lost to Los Angeles Rams.

The only reason I would consider rooting for the Rams is if I was in the friend circle of Sarah Michelle Gellar, star of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” who is Rams fan.

This seems unlikely, so the Rams are out.

The Philadelphia Eagles have a nice angry bird on the side of their helmet, but I can only stand green jerseys on the Boston Celtics.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sent the Eagles home for the offseason.

Now the Buccaneers? That’s a team who has logo game. The current blood red flag with a Jolly Roger on a steel gray helmet is real cracker.

I’m even found of the old Creamsicle orange with the Buccaneer with long, flowing hair, a feather on his helmet, and a knife in his teeth.

If I’m about to be pillaged or plundered, the guy in that logo is the man I want to do it.

I also root for the Buccaneers because of Tom Brady.

I am a contrarian.

There was a time when everybody seemed to hate Brady, especially when he was with the New England Patriots.

There was some sketchy stuff about a deflated football and illegal video recordings.

Also, people tire of winners if they’re not on their team.

The Bears are seldom winners, so I must study winning elsewhere so I will recognize it if it ever shows up in Chicago.

I believe another reason people didn’t like Brady was the Patriots’ logo game is weak.

The knock off Paul Revere in profile decked in red, white, and blue looks like it belongs on an insurance company website, not an NFL helmet.

Surely people would love Brady more during his Boston years if he wore their old logo — a muscular Revolutionary War soldier in a tri-corner hat standing ready to snap the ball and push to freedom from tyranny of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It matters not, however. Brady and the Buccaneers lost Sunday. I find it hard to be inspired by the remaining teams’ designs.

Locals will argue I should root for the Kansas City Chiefs because of their proximity and, perhaps, because of their excellent quarterback, Patrick Mahomes.

Mahomes is certainly an excellent QB, but I hold a grudge against him.

Mahomes is one of endless number of athletes who star in commercials for State Farm.

I am a State Farm customer. I have an excellent agent and my price is manageable as my penchant for crashes has waned as my age advanced.

But I can’t help but wonder if my insurance would be even cheaper if all these athletes weren’t on State Farm’s payroll for the endless stream of insurance commercials on TV during football games.

I bet a full 1% of my premium helps pay for the appearances Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers of the NFL and Chris Paul of the NBA.

So, the Chiefs are out for me.

That leaves the San Francisco 49’ers, Los Angeles Rams, and the Cincinnati Bengals.

I struggle to believe there isn’t one designer in all the fancy-schmancy Bay Area who can’t come up with something better than an “SF” in an oval.

That’s a “no” for the ‘Niners.

I liked the old white, and later yellow, ram horn on the side of the Rams helmet, whether they were in Los Angeles or St. Louis.

This swirly thing with the “LA” in the middle of it feels overdesigned. Pass.

I like the Bengals colors — orange and black. The tiger stripes are nice, I suppose.

I’m fond of Cincinnati. An old newspaper colleague introduced me to Cincinnati chili, which is a kind of gravy-like chili served on spaghetti. I liked it a lot.

I’m also found of Cincinnati because I enjoyed the old TV series “WKRP in Cincinnati.”

Cincinnati is technically in the Midwest despite being on the Eastern time zone.

This is good.

If they were in California, some crazed activist might throw fake blood on the Bengals, mistaking their uniforms for real fur.

If the Bengals were in Washington, D.C., some jerks might think “Let’s go, Bengals!” was a crude insult to President Joe Biden.

So, I’ll root for the Bengals.

But I’m not rooting enough to wear their hat.


Daniel P. Finney writes columns for ParagraphStacker.com, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I continue writing while I pursue my master’s degree and teacher certification.
Post: 1217 24th St., Apt. 36, Des Moines, 50311.
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HOT SHEET: The joy of mother’s cooking when we can’t be together

Seconds, please.

From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, 24th Street bureau, Des Moines, Iowa.

ITEM ONLY: I ate my mother’s food on Thanksgiving Day.

This simple declarative sentence would be unimpressive in any other year.

But we know damn well this is not any other year.

This is the year of COVID, social distancing and lockdowns.

Parents 2.0, the kindly east Des Moines couple who raised me after my parents died, delivered turkey with all the fixings to my apartment at about 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

I greeted them in my robe, slippers and, of course, a mask.

They wore masks, too.

Mom 2.0 gave instructions on reheating.

I took the box lid full of food in my arms.

My parents drove off to make similar deliveries to others in the family.

We didn’t hug.

We didn’t bump elbows.

That’s not really our family style.

The love was in the box.

Mom 2.0 called about a week before Thanksgiving. She discovered a frozen turkey in the basement deep freeze of their stately east Des Moines manor.

She decided she would cook a big dinner with all the fixings. She and Dad 2.0 would eat at home together and then go delivering meals to the family.

Thanksgiving is fellowship and family. COVID stole that from many of us this year.

Our family is old-fashioned. We like turkey on Thanksgiving and we listen to doctors when they tell us to social distance and wear masks in a pandemic.

I have not tasted my mother’s cooking in nearly a year. We gathered for Christmas. I got pneumonia in February. COVID and social distancing came in March.

My parents are healthy, but they are both 71. I am 45, obese with occasional asthma.

The desire to get together grew with each passing week of the pandemic. It just seemed like a bad idea.

I couldn’t live with the idea that I brought potentially life-threatening sickness to Parents 2.0, these beautiful souls who rescued me in my mid-teens when I was so vulnerable and alone.

In the strictest sense of the word, I was alone Thanksgiving Day.

But if I closed my eyes, I could see my mom as she streaked through the kitchen, checked the turkey, chopped the veggies for the salad, mixed the stuffing, stirred the gravy and yanked the scalloped corn out of the oven just as the top layer got crispy.

I could see my dad, too. There aren’t many roles for others in my mom’s kitchen. She is both maestro and orchestra.

But there are a thousand honey-dos. Set the table. Bring the cook a glass of water with ice. Run the beaters through the mashed potatoes to knock out the last of the lumps.

And, of course, cut the turkey with the fancy double-bladed electric knife. Dad 2.0 is a wiz on that thing.

I ignored my mom’s admonition to reheat. The food was still warm enough and my desire outpaced the time it would take to put it on a sturdier plate for the microwave.

The first bite of gravy-soaked dressing answered a prayer I did not know I had whispered.

I tried to pace myself, but I cleared the plate of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, scalloped corn, gravy and tossed salad in Italian dressing faster than I wanted.

I spent time with my slice of rhubarb pie.

The only thing I made myself was the cranberry jelly. All that took was a can opener and a spoon.

I texted my folks a picture of my empty plate with the caption, “Seconds?”

True to parental form, they answered, “You’d be sorry if you did.”

My belly full, I drifted asleep during the dull football games.

On Wednesday, I sat down at this computer to type an upbeat holiday column. I struggled. My life is rich and full in many ways, but I am greedy. I miss my family and friends.

So, I wrote a few Thanksgiving jokes and went on with the day.

But by the holiday’s end and after that lovely meal, I had no trouble counting the things I was thankful for.

Believe it or not, he’s walking on air. He never thought he could feel so free. Flyin’ away on a wing and a prayer, who could it be? Believe it or not, it’s Daniel P. Finney.

ParagraphStacker.com is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I continue writing while I pursue my master’s degree and teacher certification. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.