By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub
Baseball is broken, in so many ways, and that is not even the worst part. The worst part is there is no Mark McGwire this time, no Sammy Sosa, no simple or quick biomedically engineered fix for a sport locked in civil war.
But it’s not even really about the money anymore, either.
It’s about a game that has lost its way and cannot simply snap a finger to make everyone forget its issues.
Last night, conveniently and as baseball continued what certainly feels like another labor war, ESPN aired “Long Gone Summer,” the documentary that highlighted McGwire, Sosa and the pursuit of baseball’s single-season home run record, once regarded as the most significant record in all of sports. The price for baseball back then was that the record now means nothing at all, swallowed by a steroid era that made McGwire and Sosa look like caricatures of themselves, like the villains of DC Comics, minus the tubes and venom.
McGwire and Sosa aren't walking through that door. And even if they wanted to, given what we know today, they couldn't fit through it.
And so, what is baseball going to do now? Try to sell us more home runs? Sorry, but … been there, done that. The long gone summer, after all, was chemically engineered. We’ve seen it before. Baseball is now trying to sell us launch angles and home runs in the bulkiest of forms, from the top of the lineup to the bottom, from players of all shapes, sizes and abilities. No single one of them is making an assault on the record book – not that the record means anything anymore, anyway – which means the home run is like a mobile phone.
Everyone has one. Which means it ceases to be special.
Maybe Major League Baseball will return this season and maybe it won’t. In the end, it really doesn’t matter. Baseball had a small window this spring to monopolize our attention, to get us engaged, to suck us in. The owners and players have already blown it. The game that returns now will be even more flawed than the one immediately before it, and its fans are more cynical, skeptical and disenchanted than ever before,
Even a home run chase isn’t the answer anymore.
Baseball appears completely devoid of ideas and solutions.
And so we wonder:
How are they going to sell it to us now?