There was a time in my life (I happened to be 13) when I was a huge baseball fan. I had the giant baseball card collection to prove it. I even chewed the nasty gum a few times.
My enthusiasm was richly rewarded in 1987 when my hometown Minnesota Twins won their first World Series. Life was good.
But eventually I moved on. My brief, albeit intense, interest in baseball (and pro sports in general) faded in high school, and although I still enjoy going to a game once in a while, it’s just too expensive and too corporate, and I’m too cynical, to sustain that kind of passionate enthusiasm. So when it was announced that Johann Santana was traded to the Mets, I barely even raised an eyebrow.
It wasn’t until I read Nick Coleman’s column on the matter that it really hit me what this means, especially in the context of the Twins’ controversial new stadium:
[W]hen you’re a kid, your town’s team manipulates your immature emotions in order to get you to tug on daddy’s sleeve and beg him to buy a pair of $50 tickets and a souvenir jersey so Dad can go to his grave knowing that his boy will remember him through misty eyes and support the next billion-dollar stadium proposal when the stadium opening in 2010 needs to be replaced a few years later.
He’s right. And he goes on to show just how trivial a slice of the pie, given the ludicrous sums of money floating around in the world of professional sports, Santana’s salary really is. It’s the stars like Santana and Torii Hunter that make a team like the Twins worth going to see. Which is where the money comes from in the first place.