Although it's the middle of the off-season and football and basketball are in full swing, I've been thinking about baseball a lot this week. Last week I wrote a column for this Web site's opinion page about how baseball's steroids scandal has affected my young son, and it got a lot of attention and comments.
It's easy to say that I'll just give up baseball, as if it were cheesecake and my New Years resolution is to only eat soy products. I can live without baseball, just like I can live without cheesecake, but would life be the same? One of my favorite things to do has always been to arrive at the Seattle Mariners bullpen area a half-hour before a game at Safeco Field to watch the starting pitchers warm up. To see up-close the rockets these guys throw is thrilling, and it is a pleasure that I've shared with my kids and friends who come to visit.
Similarly, walking into Yankee Stadium, or Fenway Park, or Wrigley Field – or any other ballpark that you've only read about and never experienced – can be as fine a travel experience as seeing the Sphinx or the Eiffel Tower, or checking into your first Four Seasons luxury hotel. My dad took me to baseball games as a kid (but not to the Eiffel Tower or a Four Seasons) and I want to do the same for my kids.
But then, the Eiffel Tower hasn't raised its ticket prices 1000 percent because its elevator operators took illegal drugs to boost their performance, and were able to negotiate higher contracts as a result, which then necessitated raising the ticket prices. I don't have an uneasy feeling when I check in to a Four Seasons hotel that I'm encouraging the guy at the front desk to wreck his future with drugs in order to provide a better entertainment experience for me.
That's the rub with baseball right now. I think next season is going to be a very interesting one, with a lot of these issues to sort out.
Or maybe I'll just go back to enjoying the thrill of seeing 90 mph fastballs popping into the catcher's mitt, and not really care how the guy is able to throw so fast.
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