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Three Batter Minimum

Three Batter Minimum: The Cost of Entertainment

Lately, I find myself thinking about the idea of entertainment a fair amount. It was inevitable given the current worldwide climate and the way my mind works. Entertainment is, after all, an escape, but what good is the entertainment if it doesn’t offer any sort of escape after all? That’s where I find myself with the sport of baseball in the year 2020.

To be clear, as per usual this does not apply to either the Chinese Professional Baseball League or Korea Baseball Organization. Both of those leagues are in countries that have taken the necessary steps to deal with the Coronavirus. Nippon Professional Baseball is right on the outside looking in as the Japanese response has been mediocre yet managed to be somewhat effective. Nor does this apply to the European leagues where they too have taken the virus seriously and continue to take it seriously.

As I have grown accustomed to typing out, this only applies to leagues throughout the Americas, North America specifically, America more pointedly. The baseball being played, professionally at least, in America exists for entertainment purposes only. While this is true for the rest of the globe as well, it’s only in America where baseball is being played despite a horrendous response to the Coronavirus. This makes it hard to watch Major League Baseball, the Pecos League, the American Association, or the United Shore Professional Baseball League.

I’ve written about the above in detail in the past, but new wrinkles keep getting added to my quandary with these leagues and organizations. What I can’t get out of my mind now is how much they all remind me of historical accounts of gladiatorial events. Elite athletes being trotted out for the amusement of the fans with very little care or concern as to their health or well-being. Looked at through that lens the baseball being played in America becomes eminently unwatchable.

There is one key difference, of course, the majority of gladiators were slaves or indentured servants who had no choice but to participate. Professional baseball players in America do not find themselves in that literal scenario, though in a capitalist society it can be argued that they either play or skirt death as they bring in no income and get no assistance from the United States federal government. We’re not quite there with athletes who regularly make at the bare minimum hundred of thousands of dollars a year. Or are we? The taxi squad and extended roster players aren’t making anywhere near that much in MLB. The unaffiliated players are lucky if they are making twenty thousand a year. 

The truth is that we are there and it makes me incredibly uneasy when I do turn on a game of baseball. It’s supposed to offer an escape but all it does is remind me of the dire situation of the world. Now, no one reading this is dumb enough to believe that sports and the world aren’t intertwined. They most certainly are, but at what price must the world receive it’s entertainment? Are we a people who demand that we are entertained no matter what the cost is to those providing the entertainment? I’d say the answer to the last question is a resounding yes, and that explains why we are where we are and why we aren’t getting out of this hole anytime soon.

Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – Gladiators Travel Baseball

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Bill Thompson
Father (human/feline/canine), husband, Paramedic, Socialist, writer Internet Baseball Writers Association of America and Off the Bench Baseball; freelance writer at various online and print publications. Member Internet Baseball Writers Association of America & Society for American Baseball Research.

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