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A baseball rant

Today's blog will not be about any of the usual topics. Not parenting (well, maybe a little), not coffee (more about that on a later day), and not about running. This was going to be a baseball rant anyway. Ryan Braun just appealed his 50 game suspension for being drugged up. And someone recently inquired about my opinion of the Cubbies. But today is definitely feeling like a baseball rant day due to some personal family things I can't talk about. Though this one's for you, F.

I'm a sports fan, don't get me wrong. But they keep making it harder and harder. Maybe it's the shift from childhood glory-of-the-game fantasies to the economic and political realities of modern professional sports. Maybe it's that I take greater pleasure these days in lesser-known sports--especially ones like running that I actively participate in. The endurance of a marathon is of far greater importance to me than any Cubs' World Series title. Though I now have to turn in my Wrigley Bleacher welcome for saying so.

It's all the usual suspects. The players are paid too much. The tickets cost too much. They're constantly trying to sell me something. But for some reason I find the sideboards on a soccer field a lot less offensive than between-inning ads on a giant tv.

Lately, Kelly and I have taken to watching soccer in the morning (when international games are often shown) with a bowl of berries, yogurt, and granola. Even our $8 per bag granola is cheaper than a ticket to watch the Cubs.

So my thoughts on the Cubs this season? It's Spring Training and I can't get excited. Maybe once Cole and Leda are older and show interest. But the new management is so far disappointing. They let a variety (nearly every?) of free agents slip through their fingers in the off-season in favor of rebuilding the club from the farm system. Boring! Yes, I'm one of those horrible fans that wants owners to pay big money for big players and turn teams into contenders quickly. You know why? Parity.

There's no parity in baseball. Every team does not have an equal shot at winning a World Series at the start of each season. Money talks and a very few teams have it. You can buy a title. There's no salary cap. There's no loyalty...Barry Larkin was one of my all-time favorites. He played his entire career with the Reds. Won't see that again.

Ticket prices at Wrigley remain horrible despite the horrible team on the field. I remember in 1998 when I used to watch Sammy Sosa in college. I could walk up the day of the game and get a $10 ticket. (The Blackhawks used to be the same, but we won't talk about that.) There were no ads in the stadium. And during the time I've been a fan the team has actually been decent for a couple seasons.

But Theo Epstein is not God. I hate the choice of manager they went with. I hate that the NL Central had a firesale and the Cubs didn't choose to capitalize.

My dad is trying to get me to "come home" to being more of a Reds fan. I was fortunate enough to be at the World Series for 2 games in 1990. But baseball and me have soured. I might feel differently if I could pack up the family and take them for under $50 to a cheap afternoon of entertainment where we could leave halfway through if things weren't going so good.

That's not what baseball is in this day and age though.

So Spring Training is here, but I'm not sure how much baseball I can watch (or take) this season. The White Sox are going to suck, too. And no, for those of you reading from Wisconsin, I'm not Brewers material. Maybe the Twins. In any case, the new playoff scheme is horrible. It's as bad as the BCS in college football.

Baseball may end up as background noise for my summer. But this year when the sound of lawnmowers and smell of grills fills the air, my priorities are elsewhere.

The way I look at it, my team--any team that wants me as a fan--has some "winning me back" to do. Sports in general maybe. If you want me to continue to enjoy competition as a form of leisure activity, you need to put the focus back on competition.