Dropping The Ball……..Again!!!

By Gary Norris Gray
Updated: February 22, 2009

CALIFORNIA — If Major League Baseball administration does not change its ways, we will see a sports disaster. A major sports collapse not seen since the United States Football League folded in 1987.

Baseball continues to slip into darkness and deceit. The sport could fall behind the malcontent but resurgent National Hockey League which still does not have a national television network to broadcast their games.

Last week, it was reported that New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez, had taken steroids in 2002. He is not the only one, at least another 100 others have also. A-Rod was the new designated golden boy. Baseball executives wanted him to take Major League Baseball beyond this troubled steroid era.

Baseball executives hoped that A-Rod would be able to make people forget about home run king Barry Lamar Bonds. They also would forget about the summer love fest of 1998 with McGwire and Sosa hitting over 60 home runs each.

How can this happen when the new golden boy, who wears number 13, cannot lead his team, the New York Yankees to a championship? A-Rod still can’t hit in the clutch and the Yankees will not win the American League East Division.

//<![CDATA[ //]]> Until baseball makes concrete and hard substance abuse rules, until the sport creates a real commissioner, until baseball includes a true minorities program for the sport, until the managers, coaches, and owners admit that they knew of the players taking performance enhancing drugs, and u ntil this commissioner apologizes to the American public for his inept administering Major League Baseball the last 20 years, baseball will never gain the respect of the American populace.

The news media played a part in this growing dilemma. They were in the clubhouse, on the planes and riding the buses with these baseball athletes bodies changed. Then they chose to be silent.

Baseball literally keeps shooting itself in the foot or stubbing its toe. One example is the outing of Rodriguez for using enhancing performing drugs. In 2002 it was not a league violation just as Barry Bonds alleged steroid use was also not a league violation.

As a quote from the Yahoo sports desk “Taking the Clear, the star drug of the BALCO (Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative) was not a crime, according to many experts testimonies included in the grad jury documents”. It was not illegal until January 2005 under the Federal Anabolic Steroids Act.

The federal government is pursuing Barry Lamar Bonds for lying to the Grand Jury not for drug use. That is still in question because Bonds may not have known what substances he was ingesting.

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MLB should please stop the witch hunt and the game playing and address the real problems.

The National Football League put rules in place in 1998 and the players only understand but abide by these rules.

However, baseball continues to play games and enforces the rules when it best suits the administrators.

This practice is unfair and prejudice.

Baseball should admit players to the Hall of Fame for their deeds on the field. Maybe the Hall needs to re-examine the criteria to enter this place. Forget about the player’s home life off the field.

Just as the Hall conveniently forgot the racist acts of Ty Cobb, and the alcoholic binges that many New York Yankees took during their championship reign of the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s. Pete Rose is a classic example of who should be in the Hall of Fame it has been long enough for his punishment of being banished from the game.

Baseball continued its political shenanigans with the induction of Buck O’Neal, the famous Negro League All-Star and scout/coach of the Chicago Cubs. He was denied entrance into the Hall of Fame by one vote when he was living.

This was a shame, another national baseball embarrassment. O’Neal was the ultimate ambassador to the sport of baseball. He ate, slept, and walked baseball morning, noon , and night.

What a tragedy that he never saw his name at Cooperstown .

Getting into the Hall of Fame is now become political when it should be about baseball skills, batting averages, and fielding averages, not about who’s your buddy in the press room.

How will the Hall of Fame handle the Steroid Era Players like Bonds, Palmiero, Clemens, McGwire, and Sosa? They all have the statistics to enter the hollowed Hall of Fame but their repetitions are now tarnish and stained with the perception of steroid use.

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Another issue baseball should address is the influx of Latino players. Every major league team has at least one player from a Spanish speaking country. The Number 21 should never be worn again by another player in the Majors in respect and honor to Roberto Clemente, the first Latino national star.

Just as number 42 will never be worn again out of respect for Jackie Robinson the first African American star.

Knowing that our country is in an economic crisis baseball has dropped the ball. Why have half of the teams in baseball raised their ticket prices this year in this time of economic woe?

The New York Yankees and The New York Mets have the highest priced tickets in the league. The recently passed federal stimulus package from Washington has indirectly helped build Citi Field in Flushing Meadows .

What are baseball executives thinking, when half of America will be out of a job this summer. Do these baseball executives, managers and players really think that fans will buy baseball tickets instead of food, water, heat, clothes, and gas for their family?

All of the other sports have responded with lower ticket prices and package deals to help the fans and their families to attend the game. Baseball just does not get it. Baseball WHAT’S UP ???

The sport just awarded Commissioner Bug Selig a raise, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell took a pay cut. Again, b aseball drops the ball one more time.

MLB should fire Mr. Selig to restore some credibility to the office of commissioner. Commissioners are supposed to be fair and equal yet almost every decision that Mr. Selig has made has favored the owners the past 14 years.

A new commissioner maybe necessary to restore order in baseball

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This year, MLB has started its own television network this year. The MLB Network will not be seen by the average baseball fan because it requires a fee to your local cable company.

In these economic times, is this a wise decision? The league should be trying to develop a local fan base instead of shutting them out of televised games. Remember out of sight, out of mind.

It is time for the United States Congress to remove the Reserve Clause and repeal baseball’s anti trust laws to put baseball on an equal footing and accountable like the other American sports leagues.

Baseball dropped the ball with the salary cap issue. This winter, the Yankees and Mets acquired the highest paid free agents in the league. Both teams are almost guaranteed to be in this fall’s playoffs.

Baseball is now recruiting young players in Latin America instead of discovery talent in America ‘s inner cities. Owners found it was cheaper to hire young Latin players instead of African American players who demand bonuses upon signing contracts. The Racial Diversity program has not progressed the way many African Americans had hoped.

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Baseball needs to establish a hard salary cap. This would spread the wealth around the league and would promote other teams to have a chance at playing in the fall classic.

The NFL has put this procedure in place and it has produced many different playoff teams each year. With a baseball salary cap, every team will have a chance to win the World Series.

Baseball needs to unify their rules (i.e.) the designated hitter. It is the only sport in America that has two different rules for each league. This should be changed immediately. The novelty has worn off.

Either have the designated hitter for both leagues or not at all. During t he NFL’s 1970 merger and the NBA’s 1979 merger, the rules were unified from their respective leagues.

//<![CDATA[ //]]> And lastly, bring the game back to the fans with day games and Children’s Day at the park. Baseball has lost two generations of young baseball fans since the three strikes in the 1980’s and are about to lose a third if they don’t clean up their act with this conflicting vague steroid episode and continual denial.

Could it be that the outing of A-Rod be the warning shot for an impending lockout in 2010 by the owners? If this happens it would mean the end of baseball as we know it today. Here is an idea — Major League Baseball could stipulate that all of the teams can sell tickets for half price for a year.

Hey, we can all dream. Then again, we may all forget this because Tiger Woods will be back on the links later this week.