There is no joy in Metville

What ever happened to baseball?

Took in a ball game in Binghamton, N.Y. a few weeks ago. And nearly fell asleep. This was one of the Metsí farm teams. They are typical of farm teams. They put people to sleep.

And the guys who run the teams know this. If baseball was keeping folks on the edge of their seats, why would teams need so many promotions?

Between innings, we have the egg tossing. The water balloon promos. The one-legged races. We have the loud guy with the mike asking fans questions to win prizes. And the team mascots in humungous costumes. The chickens cavorting. The bears and tigers growling.

And we have special nights. Toyota fireworks night. Casino night. T-shirt giveaway nights. Pay What You Weigh night. Faith Night, with Christian rock groups. Red Neck Night.

Make way for Professional Wrestling night. ďClifford the Big Red Dog on Cost Cutters Kids Eat Free Family Fun Day brought to you by...Ē (I am not kidding!)

Next comes Super Splash Day (With seats in a designated wet zone. Where you get hosed down, I guess.) We have a Summer Film Kickoff. And Dr. Seuss Characters Night.

Where in hell is the baseball?

It is out there, amidst the advertising. I counted 102 huge advertising signs. That is how many I saw from my seat. And, of course, we were barraged by commercials on the massive screen in center field. Oh, yes, there was sort of a scoreboard out there too. It gave us a minimum of information about the players and the game. Thatís because most of the space was gobbled up by the commercials.

The outside of the stadium and grounds is plastered with more advertising. Take me out to the commercial. Take me out to the ads.

This is a lot for the ball players to compete against. I guess they realize this. Which is why they make no effort to entertain.

Sure, they pitch and catch and field and try to hit the ball. And they streak around the bases.

But that is it. Do they show excitement? Nah. Unprofessional, I guess. They could barely raise a hand to high-five the guy who bashed a home run.

Do they smile? Do they tip a hat to the crowd? Do they show enthusiasm? Do they show anger? Do they taunt or tease a pitcher? Do they punch the air when they beat out a bunt?

Do they shake their heads when they strike out? Nope.

Do they act like human beings? Not that I could see. They act like robots. They look like young accountants walking to their offices from the train. Instead of briefcases they carry bats. They look serious. No words to the catcher to distract him. No scowl at the pitcher to throw him off. No words for the ump when he screws up. All is business. If they are having fun, they hide it well.

One of the promotions was to announce each Met as he trotted to his position on the field. And to announce the kid, the young fan, who tagged along. Sort of a nice idea. And a thrill, Iím sure, for the kids.

Not one of the players said two words to the kids. None of them wrapped an arm around a kid. None of them high-fived them, tugged the brim of a kidís baseball cap, punched him in the arm. Every player ignored the kid who trailed behind him.

In short, the players looked bored. Attitudes like theirs can barely compete against the car commercials from center field. Or the Grinch who stole baseball.

Oh somewhere in this favored land, the sun is shining bright... But there is no joy in Metville. Mighty baseball has struck out.

From Tom ... as in Morgan.

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