Friday, September 03, 2004
Desecrating Baseball's Hallowed Bricks
I suppose it was inevitable that the Cubs would try to place advertising on the bricks behind home plate at Wrigley Field. After all, at least one television station already superimposes their own computer-generated ads on the wall during broadcasts. Still, the overt commercialization of sports has been a major factor in driving me away from them.
The team complains that player salaries keep going up, so they need more revenue. This is a problem that Major League Baseball must resolve. Let's face it, nobody deserves a million dollars a year for any kind of work, especially in sports. I will allow that if someone is willing to pay it, then they should get it (this is capitalism, after all), but I can't see why the owners are willing. Salary caps make a lot of sense. Tell the players they can't make more than, oh, $1.5 million a year (rather generous, I think). If they don't like that, they can always go work at McDonalds or Wal-Mart like people who can't hit or pitch do. I'm amazed that the average American sports fan tolerates this whacked-out salary scale, especially when the teams want to wallpaper the ballpark with advertising to support it (read Jim Hightower or Naomi Klein, and you'll discover just how much advertising has infiltrated our every activity).
Wrigley Field's traditional look is a huge draw in these days of bland, antiseptic stadiums. I don't think it is wise for the Tribune Company (owners of the Cubs) to desecrate the ballpark by selling off its nostalgic value to the highest bidder. Allowing ads behind home plate is the beginning of a slide down a slippery slope that will someday see the ivy ripped from the centerfield wall, replaced by assorted corporate logos.