What happened to baseball?

Despite Barry Bonds' home run chase, and Ichiro Suzuki's amazing rookie season, I have lost all emotional attachment to pro baseball this year. I don't know when I realized that I didn't care, but it has hit me.

Don't get me wrong, I love the game. I coach a kids'' team and I work for the Vancouver Canadians, a minor league affiliate of the Oakland Athletics. The enthusiasm of both the kids on my team and the players on the Canadians is enough to make me want to move to Iowa, buy a farm, tear down my crops and build a baseball diamond in the hopes that 'Shoeless' Joe Jackson will rise from the dead. But Kevin Costner films aside, I have lost my joy for Major League Baseball.

For example, the Alex Rodriguez signing made me sick. I couldn't be happier to see the billionaire shortstop and his team floundering as we approach the All-Star Break. While that may seem a little cruel, it's not Alex Rodriguez that I'm angry with. If I had been offered that much money last winter I would be in Arlington, Texas, smiling my ass off too.

The problem for me is not so much that he took the $250 million, but that it was offered in the first place. As a result of this deal and others, the playing field have become extremely uneven. The Montreal Expos are having difficulty signing Little Leaguers, while Rangers owner Thomas Hicks acts like a six-year old with Monopoly money.

And then there are the New York Yankees. I doubt anyone besides Yankees fans enjoy watching the Bronx Bombers hoist the trophy every year?

While the atmosphere inside Yankee Stadium is enough to inspire any hardened baseball fan, and while Derek Jeter seems like a nice guy, I can't help but have great distaste for the Yankees.

I'll tell you why. Two words: Roger Clemens. This guy embodies everything that I detest about baseball. He's arrogant, obnoxious, and has lost all touch with the fans. Remember that Clemens requested a trade, saying he wanted to play closer to his home in Texas?

The last time I checked the Bronx wasn't anywhere near Houston.

Despite these problems, it wasn't until the David Wells-Mike Sirotka fiasco that I lost all faith that anyone involved in Major League Baseball could do the right thing. It's a wonder White Sox GM Ken Williams could sleep at night knowing that he ripped off the Jays and got full value for damaged goods. And how could Gord Ash have been so foolish as to take the word of a pompous rookie GM looking to make a splash? The Jays were extremely carelessness when traded their Cy Young candidate.

While I believe teams must do everything they can to win, underhanded tactics only make the game look bad. And when Commissioner Selig denied the Jays any compensation, he effectively endorsed this type of behaviour.

Baseball players have become so wrapped up with themselves and their money that they have completely lost touch with their fans. I remember when I was a young autograph-seeker. I traveled to Seattle for Mariner games. I remember actually thinking to myself after one game, 'Exactly when did Randy Knorr begin to think he was too good to sign my baseball card?' Baseball is a great game, and there is something spiritual about playing catch with your Dad, but they sure have a lot of work to do at the pro level before they are able re-connect with the people in

the seats.

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