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Waiting for football

By the end of last week I was already depressed.

After flying to Cleveland to watch the Indians' home opener earlier this month, I was ready for some baseball. But after only a few disastrous bullpen outings and the regular absence of anything resembling timely hitting, my team was in the cellar. In fact, just last week I caught myself already looking ahead to next year.

What's wrong with this picture?

Teams like the Indians are reserved to this kind of thinking almost season after season. If they don't look like a team that can stick around like the Marlins of last year, you end up conceding the season before a month of ball has been played. It's not a pleasant thing for a fan to go through. Blame the Yankees all you want, but they're just taking advantage of an unfair system. Sure, they do so with bravado and little to no tact, but it's all done within the rules stipulated by the players and the owners.

In contrast, let's examine the NFL.

Every season a team has the chance to go from last year's cellar dweller to this year's champ. Take the Carolina Panthers. A few good drafts, some quality free agent pickups, and they go from a team with a 1-15 record to playing in the Super Bowl two years later.

Competitive balance in the NFL was perfected when players and owners agreed on a hard salary cap, something Major League Baseball owners didn't have the sense to fight for during the strike of 1994.

Take last weekend's NFL Draft, for example. I was so excited for this thing that I didn't sleep all that well in the days leading up to it. And when I did sleep, I had dreams of the draft. Yes, this makes me a huge dork, but that's not the point I'm trying to make here. Look at it this way: When's the last time you watched Major League Baseball's draft? Let me guess: never. That's probably because they don't televise it. Teams aren't even able to trade draft picks.

The draft is just one of the reasons why football has overtaken baseball as this country's most popular sport.

I feel like I complain about the disparities between the two sports enough. I think my wife certainly agrees. Hopefully in 20 years baseball will have gotten the message, and I can finally move on.

The problem is that baseball needs a lockout, and it needs it badly. If the ongoing steroid scandal hasn't clued you in yet, allow me: The players are running the show. Certainly, the players deserve some say in how the sport is run, but those old men who sign their paychecks deserve it just as much.

Once baseball figures it out, give me a call.

In the meantime, I'll be busy scouting college prospects for next year's NFL draft.



Web posted on Thursday, April 29, 2004


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