A Fan is a Terrible Thing to Waste

A view from the cheap seats of baseball past, present, and future.

Dark Star: You're right, they don't have the Rocky Bridges types, guys like that, anymore. Frank Howard.

Julian: Is the coverage different now, though? Do we not know as much about them as characters?

Dark Star: It was better when there were characters. Even the announcers. Now you've got Duane Staats, who's a fabulous announcer, but he don't know shit about baseball. When it was Dizzy Dean or Buddy Blattner or Peewee Reese, these guys played the game. They knew everything about the game.

Julian: The beat reporters, too, don't you think?

Dark Star: Yeah, there aren't five decent beat reporters left in baseball. I liked it better when we didn't have to know about Canseco and Madonna. I don't need to know that.

Brad: How much of baseball's trouble lies with the shift of franchises from old baseball families like the Griffiths to people who are car dealers and bankers?

Dark Star: It's gone from people who respected and loved the game to people who have more respect for their money than for the game. And that's the problem. Twenty-eight guys wake up one morning and decide that Shea Stadium looks like a Nehru jacket and they have to get rid of it and they need 28 new ballparks. They should have left everything the way it was years ago.

Brad: Can any of you envision the Twins moving?

Dark Star: Not with these guys owning the team. They'd sell it before they'd move it. If the Twins move, it won't be the Pohlads who move them. But without a new ballpark, this team's moving, period.

Brad: So what do the rest of you think about the prospects for a new stadium here? Would you support a referendum, and on what terms?

Julian: Before I'm willing to sell my soul, I want some public ownership of the team, I want an outdoor stadium, and I want a guarantee that a certain percentage of the seats will remain affordable.

Bill: And will remain available on game day. For walk-ups.

Dark Star: That's never gonna happen, though. If they can sell out for the season, they're gonna do it and they should have the right to do it. You gotta be able to protect yourself financially.... The days of the bleacher-seat mentality are long gone.

Shawn: But you said you miss those days.

Dark Star: I do, desperately, but I just don't see that as being part of the scenario.


Why Baseball is Still Best

Bill: There's something about the beauty of baseball, not that other sports don't have it, too. The statistical angle on baseball does make it different, I think. There is an exact statistical angle about baseball, where anyone can say, "That guy's a good hitter, that guy's horseshit, that guy's a good pitcher, that guy's a lousy pitcher."

Julian: In football, I know the runners gain more yards than Jim Brown used to. But someone can say, "Yeah, now they play six more games than they used to." So it's hard to compare. With baseball you can, even if you come to baseball late.

Shawn: I tried to move to Europe at one point in my life, and I had to move back because I couldn't live without baseball and I didn't care to read the box scores five days after it had happened. That, and they have no sense of rock music in Europe. So I had to come back for baseball and music.

Bill: There's two things that make it better than other sports. One is the nuances. Basketball has continuous action, it's very athletic, there's a great combination of grace and power. Football's got sound and fury and pretty continuous action, too. But baseball--I remember a few years ago seeing a guy try to pick off Shawon Dunston at Wrigley Field. He threw over two or three times, and the next time he threw, he made a bad throw. And Dunston all of a sudden goes from first to third. It just takes your breath away after all this little cat and mouse stuff. And the other thing that makes it better than other sports is that you have no clue when you walk in the ball yard who's gonna win. I don't care if the Indians come in here and Jack McDowell's pitching against LaTroy Hawkins--you still don't know who's gonna win.

John: With basketball, you know the Bulls will probably win. You know Michael Jordan and Scotty Pippen are gonna score their points. With football you know Barry Sanders is gonna get his hundred yards. In baseball any guy in the lineup might hit a three-run homer. Phil Roof might beat you.

Bill: Jose Parra might pitch a no-hitter. It's much less predictable. And it could be a two-hour game or a four-and-a-half-hour game.

Julian: One thing I always found interesting about baseball was that it crossed cultures and economic classes. I still remember being 14 and going to Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia, and it was one of the most eclectic places that you'd ever want to be. There were horrendous arguments about the littlest things, but you had this interaction with these folks. I remember one time in St. Louis, too; my friend and I sat in the bleachers out in right field, and there's all these old black guys there. In the course of two days, we got to know a number of them and they told us some incredible stories about the old-timers they'd seen play.

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