|Mike McTamney Pitching for the Rox
Copyright 2007 by Nomi S. Burstein
I haven't actually been to a professional baseball game since 1988, when the Mets were in the playoffs, and it got me thinking about why. Friends of mine generally know that I am a Mets fan; my younger brother Josh and I were in the stadium for games one and seven of the 1986 World Series, and since I wasn't married to gnomi at the time, there was no reason for me not to root for the Mets and against the Red Sox. (Although to my credit, I will note that in 1986 I did go on record as saying that although I wanted the Mets to win, I didn't want the Red Sox to have to lose for that to happen.) Anyway, in the 1980s I couldn't imagine not attending professional baseball games as an adult.
Until 1994, when the Major League baseball players went on strike.
At the time, I was working as a teacher at a private school, and one of the newspapers I was reading had chosen to take an interesting tack on the players strike. Every day they would feature one player in a box, and list how much salary money that player was giving up for that one day he wasn't playing baseball. It disturbed me to discover that in many cases, the daily salary of a baseball player exceeded my annual salary.
I found myself experiencing mixed feelings. Friends of mine also know that I'm a strong union supporter, and that my father's death was a direct result of the Daily News strike in 1990. And I knew that the owners in baseball were making a lot of money off the game, and that it was only fair for the players to share more equitably in the game's success. I also recalled my baseball history, and knew how the baseball players of the early twentieth century had earned pittances and often ended up broke due to the low salaries offered by the owners.
But still...I found it difficult to return to a baseball game after the strike ended. I couldn't bring myself to be sympathetic to a class of oppressed workers who were getting paid exorbitant salaries to play a game for entertainment. Furthermore, after the strike the prices of the stadium seats rose and continued to do so. In the back of my mind I kept balancing the thought of my hard-earned money versus that of the player salaries. In the end, after the 1994 strike ended, I decided that I would go on my own personal strike, a spectator's strike, and that I wouldn't pay to attend a Major League baseball game until the cost of attending was reduced to a reasonable amount.
And I've actually stuck to it. Until yesterday, I hadn't gone to a baseball game for about 13 years. And I still haven't been to a Major League game.
I know that in some ways my reaction is irrational. I still pay to see movies, even though I know that many of the actors are being paid humongous salaries. And I still follow baseball, and watch games on TV, and it's not like I deliberately boycott the advertisers for the games. (Given that I don't drink beer anyway, declaring a personal boycott would be irrelevant.) But there's still some part of me that became alienated from Major League baseball in 1994, and given how much better the fans are treated by the minor league teams, it'll take a lot to bring me back to a Major League stadium.
Copyright © Michael A. Burstein