I’ve been wanting to write this essay for some time, but I know that it’s going to upset some people, maybe more people than I normally upset.
So, before I get into the real message, I’ll point to myself as a hypocrite. Bear with me.
I’m a baseball fan. I played Little League Baseball and Babe Ruth League Baseball when I was a kid. I was a kid until my 18th birthday in 1968 or until my 21st birthday in 1971, depending on by what state’s law one wishes to abide.
I’ve followed Major League Baseball since I was about 10 years old. I love watching my heroes play. I’m originally from Connecticut, so I could have been a New York Yankee fan or a Boston Red Sox fan.
These two Major League teams are arch rivals. I chose to support the Red Sox. So, along with my enthusiasm for the game, I suffered until 2004. The Red Sox hadn’t won the championship since 1918. The Yankees had made a habit of winning what we Americans call “The World Series” during most of those years.
Not only hadn’t the Red Sox won The Series during those years, but they would come very close, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory on many occasions.
For the first 16 years during which I was a fan of Major League Baseball, I knew who the Boston Red Sox were going to be from year to year, with some exceptions. The reason for this is that players were tied to the team which held their contract. The team had all the power. When they felt like it, they could trade a player to another team, whether the player wanted to go or not.
In 1970 St. Louis Cardinal player Curt Flood refused to be traded to the Philadelphia Phillies. Flood likened Major League labor laws to slavery even though the players were paid a fairly decent salary and did nothing else for the team other than play baseball.
Nonetheless, Flood, an African-American, felt that people who worked in other occupations could leave their jobs for a better paying job if the opportunity arose.
After Flood sued Major League Baseball, several players began to refuse to sign contracts, realizing that, not only did the teams “own” them, but their share of the take of a ball game dwarfed in comparison to the owners’ take.
Two things played into what is now called “free agency”. The two facts seemed relatively legitimate at the time.
First, no employer should own employees. Of course, was it that players couldn’t work for another Major League Baseball team or players couldn’t quit their jobs, playing baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals and find another job pumping gas? You decide.
Secondly, the players drew the crowds to the parks from which the owners gained so handsomely, yet shared unequally in the profits.
Players won. Free agency was implemented.
Major League Baseball teams no longer “owned” the players. Players were free to test the Major League labor market after playing for one Major League team for five years.
Owners have since validated the players’ claim that they, the players, indeed are the reason the fans come to the parks. They’ve validated this position by paying the players who are the biggest attractions huge salaries when those players are eligible for free agency.
Hence, what began in the early ‘70s as workers refusing to sign their lives over to one employer for life and feeling they deserved a greater part of the company’s profits for the part they played in creating those profits has morphed into players such as Alfonso Soriano of the Chicago Cubs receiving salaries of $18 million per year.
Today, Major League owners and players begin renegotiating contracts two to three years before they’re up and actually resign ahead of time for even more money.
Players receive valets and special places in the locker rooms with home entertainment centers, all their own, as part of their contracts.
I still watch Major League Baseball. I’ve loved watching it for 40 years and, for lack of a better word, I’m addicted.
As far as who the Boston Red Sox are going to be from year to year is concerned, that’s an unknown. Free agency may mean that a player playing for the arch rival Yankees this year may sign a multiyear, multimillion dollar contract with the Red Sox next year.
From a union and labor point of view, the first steps that got Major League Baseball to the point it’s at today were legitimate steps in a legitimate labor movement.
However, there are many Major League players who are from and still live in The Dominican Republic, for example. There are millions of dollars going to The Dominican Republic every year, but there’s still plenty of poverty in The Dominican Republic. Why is this? I’ve got mine and you, you with no clothes and no food, screw you?
I like watching baseball though. I think what the owners are doing, paying Major League baseball players far, far more than they’d receive if they quit playing baseball and went to work somewhere else at some other occupation, is wrong.
I think that the players are greedy and teamwork is a joke.
One young player wouldn’t play in a game as long as his manager wanted him to play because he wasn’t going to risk getting hurt “just to win a championship.”
I don’t support them. I watch baseball. I pay for a baseball package. I go to games. I support baseball because it’s good for America. You know, Mom, baseball and apple pie. I just don’t support those players and owners.
Who gets my money when I pay for a ticket or pay for the baseball package?
I went through the above because I know that anyone who reads it will say that I’m a hypocrite. I can’t support Major League Baseball without supporting the owners and the players, right? If Major League Baseball was somehow outlawed until owners and players incomes are either lowered or shared with those who aren’t fortunate enough to play Major League Baseball. Maybe it should be outlawed until there’s absolutely no poverty in The Dominican Republic.
No baseball, no rich owners or rich players, right?
I don’t support the war but I support the troops.
What is the war?
It’s illegal. It’s based upon lies. It’s horrific for those who are “collaterally” involved.
I don’t support the war.
What is the war?
The war is soldiers doing what they’re told, following orders. It’s soldiers not questioning what they’re told.
What is the war?
It’s soldiers holding the triggering mechanisms of all kinds of devices in their hands, engaging those triggering mechanisms, firing the devices and, with malice aforethought, killing human beings who are on the “other team”.
If I’m a soldier, I’m insulted. After all, I know that there are no weapons of mass destruction, I know that Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein hated each other and it seems that Iraqis not only don’t want me forcing “democracy” down their throats, but actually want me to leave their country.
I’m not stupid. I know that.
So why am I still lifting up this rifle and looking for Middle Easterners to kill?
Oh, yeah, I’m a soldier. I do what I’m told.
But why are my superiors ordering me to do something that I know I have no business doing?
I’m not supposed to question them, but I’m a human being, an intelligent human being. If they told me to jump from a plane flying at 3,000 feet without a parachute, would I do it?
Let me think. There’d be no reason to just kill myself by jumping from a plane without a parachute. Would my superior tell me to kill myself for no reason at all?
Are my superiors really asking me to kill myself by fighting in this war? I didn’t think those were my orders. My superiors want me to kill others, but they haven’t even given me a reason why I should continue to do that. It’s almost as if they’re telling me to jump from a plane without a parachute. There’s no reason to do that and, likewise, there’s no reason to kill people now that we know that killing people over here in Iraq isn’t in defense of our country.
Iraq never even threatened to invade the United States. They had no WMD and didn’t worked with Al Qaeda to carry out 9/11.
Screw it. Reason or no reason, I’m going to continue to kill people, although I have no reason to do so. After all, no one supports the war but everyone says that they support me. So here goes.
Let’s exit the soldier's mind because I think I’ve insulted him or her enough.
What actions of the soldiers do we support while not supporting the war? Do we support their eating? Do we support their sleeping? Do we support their walking and talking?
Haven’t we all insulted our soldiers enough? Am I wrong? If the soldiers put down the weapons and refuse to fight, where’s the war? No military, no war. Of course, I’m referring to a war in which The Former United States of America is involved.
The action of the fighting forces is the war. As far as The FUSA is concerned, if the American military leaves Iraq, there’s no war in Iraq.
Military personnel kills and dies. If we support the military, we support their killing and dying and we support the war.
Do we support their living and breathing? If we do, the best way to support the troops is to insist that they exit from the war.
We’re told that this is no longer a war, it’s an occupation. There are still fighting forces killing each other and Americans are among those forces. The occupation is an extension of the war. To protect the health of American military personnel is to take them away from the war in Iraq and bring them home. That’s how we support the soldiers and not the war.
Utah Philips makes this point quite eloquently with his narrative “The Violence Within”.
Ultimately, though, it’s illogical to say that you support the troops whose actions perpetuate a war that you don’t support.
I may be a hypocrite for still supporting rich baseball team owners and spoiled players. However, killing people is not the goal of a baseball game.