Sunday, March 30, 2014

Baseball Babylon

Baseball, it has been said, holds the key to the American character. They share animating myths. Individualism shaking hands with communitarianism; each player doing good for his team by doing well for himself; an enclosed park, with fences theoretically stretching to infinity. The Framers themselves could not have concocted a better national pastime. 

All nations, though, as wily old Ben Franklin himself warned, eventually succumb to tyranny. It can be no other way. In wily old Thomas Jefferson's words, "The natural order of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground."

So it is that baseball fascism breaks new ground every day. Forget about money corrupting politics: one does not poison the probity of a prostitute. Politics corrupts money. Wealthy baseball team owners have pull. They use it to buy influence with governors and state legislators, who turn around and conflate the owners' rent-seeking interests with the "public interest." Sweetheart deals saddling taxpayers with the cost of new stadium construction follow. 

The commissars thereby stand free-market principles on their head: socialized risks underwrite privatized profits. Nor will their economic fascism stop at the water's edge of civil liberties. Coming soon to a boys-of-summer cathedral near you: TSA-style security theater!

Democracy? We deserve and we'll keep getting it, all right--"good and hard," in wily old H.L. Mencken's words.

Not so long ago, the Grand Old Game could still reasonably lay claim to its exalted status. Natural grass, quirky stadiums (not the corporatist, cookie-cutter monstrosities of today) and the pitcher's place in the batting order ensured the game's integrity and continuity with the past.

Not so long ago, undeclared war and diminishing civil liberties still sparked controversy and dissent. As goes baseball, alas, so goes the Constitution.


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