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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Stuff my dad texts

From the desk of friendly neighborhood paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney of Des Moines, Iowa.

Super Bowl celebration in my house as a boy usually involved my dad and me stretched out on the basement furniture with bowls of popcorn on our bellies and a fizzy Pepsi on ice on coasters atop the end table.

Time passed and things change, as they do, and many years have passed since Dad and I watched the championship game together. The pandemic prevented us from gathering this year.

I work most Sundays. I called home to ask who my dad picked to root for on my lunch break. We pick opposite teams during most championships unless one of our favorite teams is playing.

My dad picked the Kansas City Chiefs. I rooted for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We promised to text during the game.

My dad defines soft-spoken. His quiet belies his thoughtfulness — he can drop a wisdom bomb like few I’ve known — but his absence of gregariousness hides a wicked sense of humor.

The following is a partial transcript of texts during the big game.

On a missed touchdown that slid through a receiver’s hands and hit him in the helmet:
DAD: Almost a touchdown be he couldn’t catch it with his face.

On breaks in the action:
ME: I didn’t understand any of the last three commercials.
DAD: That’s probably a good thing.

On CBS Sports self-promotion:
DAD: I cannot wait for the halftime reporting.

On the Coors Light “shortage” commercial:
DAD: Nothing like watching a good truck wreck.

On a Tom Brady touchdown pass:
DAD: Nice throw by twinkle toes.

On a shoe commercial about 2020 and soft soles:
ME: Hey, did you hear last year sucked? I’m glad these commercials are here to remind me.
DAD: With the right shoes, this year will be like walking on clouds.

On a call against the Chiefs:
DAD: The fix is in.

On a commercial about working out with paint cans, broomsticks and rubber bands:
DAD: I had weights like that as a kid.

On Kansas City’s anemic offense and bright yellow shoes:
DAD: They would score more without bananas on their feet.

On hearing about Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ toe injury one too many times:
DAD: Take a time out and get a replacement toe.

On a commercial for a new melon-flavored Mountain Dew in a pink hue:
DAD: Pepto-flavored Mountain Dew?

As the game becomes out of reach for the Chiefs:
DAD: (Mahomes) has never lost by double digits? Is that another toe reference?

On a commercial that references the center of the 48 contiguous United States:
DAD: We went to see the center of the country. Lebanon, Kansas. 2018 (He texts three pictures he took of the site on one of their trips.)

I slept through big portions of the ballgame. I remember Tom Brady and Tampa Bay won.

But I mostly remember texts from my dad — and the thought that the jokes would’ve been much funnier in person.

Daniel P. Finney knows he hasn’t written in a while. He’s trying to figure out a new job and go to school and manage his mental health and an arthritic knee in the middle of a goddamn pandemic. Things are stressful and sometimes, as much as he wants to, he just doesn’t have the energy for paragraphs. But like all things in life, it’s a work in progress.

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. The new semester is underway. All donations are greatly appreciated. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.