"Take me out to the ballgame. Take me out to the crowd…."
The song that became the anthem of baseball was written in 1908, by Jack Norworth, a vaudeville star, who had so little interest in the sport, that he had never even seen a game when he wrote the song (and didn’t bother to go until he was invited decades later!).
I’m beginning to feel like Jack Norworth, in relation to all sports.
Jack had no good excuse: back in the day there was no television, parking was easy, and nobody ever heard of a personal seat license.
Each year, when hope springs eternal, I usually divert some time to my devotion to the national pastime. But for some reason (and, as you’ll see, I have a bunch of them) I’m almost, as we say in basketball, "over the limit." Simply put, nowadays, it’s very hard to be a fan.
The Mets owners apparently threw in their lot (and so much of their money) with the greatest Ponzi-schemer in history. Ultimately we will find out what the Wilpons did or did not know. I know this – there won’t be competitive baseball at Citi Field for seasons to come, and not one single fan is to blame.
As many of us know (but few will admit), it’s always a little uncomfortable being a Yankee fan, given their annual attempts to ruin the competitive balance by buying victory.
The Giants are run by one of the truly classy sports ownership families, the Maras. But imagine my shock when I heard John Mara say this week that his franchise is being financially "squeezed" and the owners were forced into the current showdown that could become a football shutdown.
Squeezed? Really? Need another billion or two off the top to feel more comfortable? Here’s a money saving idea: next time don’t build your one-point-six-billion-dollar-monument-to-excess stadium (that has the ambience of a high school grandstand).
The Knicks are using the same financial model: Do an arena makeover that nobody wants, and raise ticket prices (this time by an average of 49 percent!)
Forty-nine percent? At this rate Spike Lee might move to the blue seats.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking: Mr. TV Big-Shot probably gets great seats with his press pass. Well, true, I’ve been to virtually every New York World Series game in the last 15 years. And sat outside in a live truck near the ‘Deegan’ waiting for those fans to run out and scream on camera, "Yankees! Yankees!"
Economics 101 says blame the fan. Owners wouldn’t charge the prices if nobody paid them. True.
But I would like to hold onto the romance of another age, when on a bright spring day, you could hear the crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd, and sing, "Take Me Out To The Ball Game."
And not buy your peanuts and Cracker Jacks without a home-equity line of credit.