“The Long Road Back”

Jason Campos

To be perfectly honest, I was more than a little disappointed that Major League Baseball continued the 2002 season without a “work stoppage.”

After months of verbal sparring, labor negotiations and dramatics, owners and players came to an agreement to avoid the ninth work stoppage in the last two decades or so. Although the new deal allows the season to continue and a World Series to be played, I came away from the situation unhappy.

My own frustration with the local nine notwithstanding, I have become disenchanted with those involved in the game. Labor deal or no labor deal, everything is not hunky-dory for me. There are several points in the new contract that leaves a lot to be desired. Many issues were not resolved; there are still too many inequities.

A game that I have loved for a long time is no longer the captivating American pastime that it once was. Football is truly the grand poobah of sports, not only for me, but also the majority of the country. But the baseball powers that be don’t seem to recognize that reality. Or they don’t care, as long as the coffers are kept full.

Why was I so infuriated? Does it have to do with the fact that the industry that is so out of control, fighting over how to divvy up 3.5 billion dollars, while in the state of Massachusetts alone, real labor crises loom ominously, daily reminders in newspapers and the eleven o’clock news?

Perhaps its because I cannot frequent Fenway Park as often as I like to. The astronomical ticket prices leave me out in the cold and the park, as it does for many other baseball loyalists. Bet you a semester’s tuition that the Red Sox owners raise ticket prices again during the winter.

Baseball and I have had a relationship for many years now. I have many fond memories of the sport. I also realize that baseball has had problems for decades. The financial squabbling and bitter battles between owners and players is not a recent development.

My crystal ball cannot forecast impending doom or recovery. If the game is to win the hearts of fans, both old and new, it needs to continue to change, to evolve.

The status quo will only ensure an irreversible demise. I have come to realize that the labor deal is a baby step, a first step. And although I would like to see giant steps be taken, progress is generally achieved in small increments. Damaged relationships are repaired slowly and it usually takes a long time. If Major League Baseball makes the effort and restores a grand game for the fans, I will come back. But the road is long indeed.