Originally created 09/01/02

Baseball striking out

Obviously Major League Baseball will be better off by avoiding its ninth work stoppage in 30 years. But even so, just the threat of a ballplayers' strike these last many weeks has added to the game's worsening woes.

Fans don't like the uncertainty. Many began to lose interest in the division races when the strike deadline threatened to knock out the playoffs and World Series as happened in '94. The repercussions of that disastrous strike are still being felt - attendance has never returned to pre-'94 levels.

Just look at the Atlanta Braves. From '95 to '01, they've won either the World Series, pennant or division title - a remarkable record. Yet the excitement that attended the Braves in our two-state area has never come close to what it was before the strike.

Baseball's labor disputes never seem to go away. At best, they're just papered over until the next crisis. Even without the threat of stoppages, baseball has problems.

The game's fan-base is shrinking as older generations, enamored of the national pastime since they were kids, are dying off. And youngsters aren't taking their place in great numbers. Baseball, a pastoral game, seems too slow in our fast-paced era to engage younger generations as either athletes or fans.

To be sure, there'll always be a place for the game no matter how furiously its overlords try to screw it up, but regardless of work stoppages or rumors of work stoppages, baseball is losing its place in the sun.

Football is the 21st century's national pastime, followed by basketball. Baseball is becoming just one sport among others.

The stewards of the sport are helping see to it.


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