I have made good on three of my objectives upon returning home. First of all, I have eaten three hot dogs, two in the Detroit airport and one at a baseball game. Second, I have cast loving glances at my wife and we have been together since I returned home. And third, I did go to a baseball game last night and saw the Pittsburgh Pirates clobber the Detroit Tigers by a score of 9-2. It was a fun night. There was a big crowd on hand and there were so many families there with young children! It was great to see.
I went to my first baseball game in 1957 and saw the Pirates win a doubleheader against the Los Angeles Dodgers. I have gone to countless games since then, not only here in Pittsburgh (all three stadiums) but also in New York (both stadiums), Atlanta (the old and the new stadiums), Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles (both stadiums), Chicago (both stadiums), Toronto, Boston, Cleveland, Dallas, and Baltimore. Next month I will add Seattle to the list when I attend a game there against Tampa Bay.
My favorite stadium is in Baltimore at Camden Yards; they also have the best food by far of any of the places I have gone. I will always remember the night I went to Yankee Stadium in New York, however; it was almost a spiritual experience to be where so many great players and teams have played over the decades. My least favorite venue was the old Candlestick Park in San Francisco, but the Giants don't play there anymore--thank God.
I have been a lifelong fan of our local team, which now has the longest consecutive non-winning season streak of any team in professional sports. It has been 14 years since the team has had a winning record! That's quite an accomplishment in a morbid kind of way. Their losing has been a combination of bad management locally and bad leadership from the powers that rule baseball in general. You see, Pittsburgh is what's called a small-market team. Their payroll this year is $50 million, while the payroll for the New York Yankess is more than $200 million. There is no way the Pirates can compete with that kind of disparity in money available to buy talented players.
Baseball's commissioner, Bud Selig, (whom I am fond of calling the "village idiot" where baseball is concerned) and the owners refuse to face the reality that baseball is broken and needs fixed. A salary cap such as the other professional leagues use is needed, but will never be implemented. The richer teams won't ever let it happen. Thus the "have" teams will continue to thrive and the "have-not" teams will struggle, and baseball' seems happy with this arrangementn since the "haves" are in the large television market cities.
Even with the problems, though, baseball is still a great game. I hope to take in two more games before I leave the country again on August 22. And one day, a small market team like Milwaukee, Oakland or Pittsburgh will rise up and strike down one of the big market teams in the World Series! I just hope I'm still alive to see it happen.