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Reviews |  Baseball is dying.  The government should take it over.


Salaries would be lower, perhaps considerably, but so would ticket prices. And watching matches on TV or via online streaming would be much simpler, as the shows would be broadcast exclusively by C-SPAN.

Revenues, though reduced, would be more equitably distributed. I imagine gate receipts and merchandise sales are being given en bloc to local authorities in cities where teams play, bolstering the coffers of many struggling municipalities. Public funding of stadiums would continue, but instead of being a cynical grab of money by destitute owners, it would be a noble enterprise, accepted by indifferent citizens as one of those worthwhile cultural enterprises like the Smithsonian Institution that governments are obliged to support.

Don’t confuse my intentions. I’d love to see Justin Verlander — once a star pitcher for my Detroit Tigers before he was drawn to the Houston Astros — earn $25 million a year to play a boy’s game, just as I’d gladly pay Simone Young, our greatest living conductor, three times that amount for a single annual engagement with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. But classical musicians around the world have long realized that the lifestyle of figures like conductor Herbert von Karajan, with his yachts and custom Porsches, was a product of a bygone era in which the ambitious middle classes felt that buying classic recordings was a must; baseball players must also accept that nine-figure contracts are the remnant of an older, nobler civilization.

We need to stop pretending that baseball has a huge, enthusiastic following and start seeing the game for what it is: the sports equivalent of collecting 78 rpm records. Baseball is the American game only in the sense that jazz is American music or Henry James is American literature. It’s time we recognized this truth by giving baseball the same approval we give to these other neglected cultural treasures.

That might be a tough sell for some fans, but ultimately a world in which the game not only continues but also does so without commercial pressure would be happier. Among other things, the league could abandon its doomed attempts to attract more viewers by shaking up extra innings rules and introducing unclean practices like pitch clocks, signal transmitters for catchers and the batter. designated universal. A strict salary cap could be imposed to help ensure competitive parity between teams.

And who knows? Just as tourists who would never consider themselves interested in art visit the National Gallery or the Metropolitan Museum because it seems suitably nerd, perhaps one day they might go to baseball games with an incomplete sense that it will be educational and rewarding.

For there to be any doubt, I must clarify that I have nothing to gain if my scheme were taken up by the competent authorities. I argue from a selfless position of love, in sober acknowledgment of baseball’s undeniable obsolescence.

Ny

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