Craig Muder: Baseball strikes out by dropping Hall of Fame Game
Try this logic on your boss some day: "I just couldn’t fit it into my schedule."
The response will be fairly predictable: If it’s important, find a way to get it done.
That’s the message to Major League Baseball. Don’t tell us how difficult it is to schedule the Baseball Hall of Fame Game. No one wants to hear about days off for baseball players, union rules governing travel and the arduous bus trip to Central New York.
We just want the Hall of Fame Game. But after Tuesday’s announcement that the game will cease to exist after this June’s Cubs/Padres matchup, it’s become obvious that Major League Baseball does not want us.
Specifically, the players union couldn’t care less about the fans of the game. Starting in 2003, bargaining agreements initiated by the players eliminated all in-season exhibition games except the Hall of Fame Game. At the same time, new rules limited what teams could play in the game. That necessitated moving it from Hall of Fame Weekend to any weekend they could find during warm-weather season.
Ironically, this move actually strengthened the game – giving the Hall an extra weekend to celebrate baseball. But in baseball these days, no good idea goes unpunished.
Sure, many of the players treated the Hall of Fame Game with the same enthusiasm they have for a torn Achilles tendon. Two years ago, Ken Griffey Jr. of the Reds spent his pregame interview scowling like a little kid forced to eat his Brussels sprouts.
So maybe this is for the best. Maybe Central New York baseball fans are sick of paying to watch stars take two swings before sprinting for their iPods and luxury coaches. Maybe it’s time for the Hall of Fame to host its own game with its own team members.
How about an old-timers game at Doubleday Field? The newest Hall of Famers, like Cal Ripken Jr., Ryne Sandberg and Ozzie Smith can still play. Dick Williams might be 78, but he can still manage. Fill out the roster with a few old Yankees, plan a home-run hitting contest and a parade and pick a perfect Sunday in June.
The players would have as much fun as the fans, which would be a refreshing change.
Craig Muder is the sports editor of the Observer-Dispatch. Contact him at email@example.com.