Fading away

John Podhoretz writes on NRO:

Here’s my very short take on the matter, after decades as a baseball fanatic. Anybody who cares one whit about this sport any longer is a sap — a lovable sap, a sentimental sap, maybe. But a sap. Look at the facts. The records of the last decade were all drug-induced. The man who was supposedly the greatest player in the history of the game is now mysteriously injured forever — probably because he can’t get out of bed in terror of that grand jury indictment coming down the pike that will accuse him straightforwardly of being a cheater. And not even a pleasant cheater either. Meanwhile, now that nobody’s taking the drugs any longer the league rankings and ratings have gone totally screwy, and basically, the biggest star in the majors is a 75 year-old loudmouth and one-time convicted felon who paid in excess of $200 million for a team that can barely tie its shoelaces without whining and kvetching and losing. Yeeech. Baseball stinks. So let A-Rod play for the Dominican Republic. At least in Latin American countries, the sport still means something. Here, it means … skyboxes.

Even thirty years ago, boxing was one of the three dominant sports, with the heavyweight champ being one of the two or three most famous people on earth. Now boxing is less popular than poker on television. Baseball is going that way too — not for any of those old-timey reasons, like it’s slow or good athletes are going into basketball or people like the violence of football. It’s going south because a sport that seemed nearly impossible to fix turns out to have been fixed one person at a time, and that kind of corruption eats away at the essence of what it means to be a fan.

NFL football is, without a doubt, the greatest sport in the world. I am a little concerned about FIFA soccer, as while the international competitions are as stirring as ever, the falsely-named Champions League – are there really three Premiership champions? – has significantly reduced the importance of league championships while forcing the top teams to play far too many games.

The football season, with all its inherent violence, is meant to be an endurance contest. A season of the beautiful game should not be.