Baseball is like Eamon

MLB's all like, "____ you Washington, I don't want you back." (And then Washington rebuts like Frankee and is all, "Your game was wack" anyway. Ahem, end hip-hop interlude...)

I'm a huge fan of the game. I've got three composition books at home full of homemade box scores dating back to 1991, when I would go to Great Falls (Mont.) Dodgers games in the summer while visiting my dad. When I moved to Atlanta, I became something of a regular at Braves games, even working for their fan magazine as a writer and assistant editor for a time.

And yeah, you can argue that baseball is too slow or boring to be interesting. But one of the reasons I like it so much is because of its leisurely pace, which is perfect for summer. There may be no better feeling than sitting in a stadium on a warm June night, watching a game unfolding while working through a big bag of peanuts and a soda. For me, nothing is more simultaneously relaxing and engaging than watching baseball. It's a celebration of everything summer should be: warmth, relaxation, camaraderie.

Since those three things are banned in Washington, we don't have a baseball team. (Granted, not for lack of trying.) But as far as the majors go, my interest is starting to wane a bit, primarily because the playing field is so uneven. The NFL works so well because each franchise has relatively the same financial resources to work with, due to revenue sharing and a salary cap. Not so in baseball, where individual teams are responsible for raising their own revenues. This, of course, skews things a bit. Here's last year's payroll chart:

NEW YORK YANKEES $ 152,749,814
NEW YORK METS $ 117,176,429
ATLANTA BRAVES $ 106,243,667
TEXAS RANGERS $ 103,491,667
SAN DIEGO PADRES $ 47,928,000

The Yankees pay out almost 10 times what Tampa Bay does, because their various revenues are so much higher. Naturally, they're in the playoffs every year and can sign the best free agents, like Alex Rodriguez. For the teams at the bottom of the charts, if they do manage to put a good team together, they can bet that their good players will be signed by the rich teams later on as free agents.

It's an inherently unfair competitive structure, which come to think of it, suits Washington quite well. But the lack of balance makes the regular season predictable, and it's less and less fun to watch, with really no way to fix it. Maybe we shouldn't want any part of that.

On the other hand, minor league baseball manages to retain the fun, the balanced competition, and the affordable ticket pricing that have historically been a part of baseball. So, I would really like to know why Washington doesn't even have a minor league team. Surely a Triple-A team could make its home comfortably in RFK stadium, once the home of the Senators. Surely a few of the millions of people who live around D.C. would be starved enough for baseball that they'd be willing to drop a few bucks to check out tomorrow's stars. Surely some folks would be willing to ditch work for a day game once in a while. Surely some families would welcome the summer diversion... right? I can't imagine why AAA baseball wouldn't be viable here. Not that I have the venture capital to find out, but somebody's got to make some calls about this.

In the meantime, I'm not really satisfied with my options. Frederick, Md. is about an hour away; they have a single-A team. Bowie has, I think, a double-A team to the south (not sure how long it takes to get there). They're both affiliated with the Orioles, who are just not really a convenient option for me to check out on a regular basis, now that I work in MFing Reston (that's my new pet name for it).

For example, Boston is playing Baltimore on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. Let's say I had a hankering to go. If I wanted to pick up my wife in Arlington, and then go up around the Beltway, to I-95 and into Baltimore in time for the start of the game, I would need to leave work 20 minutes ago. That's not really going to work for me.

Oh well. Another year sans baseball.

P.S... go Yellow Jackets.

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