Take me out to the ball game

Something happened to me recently that I wasnt sure would ever happen again. It was something good. When free agency came about during the early 1970s it ruined baseball by turning too many players into greedy, showboating spectacles. Playing the game the right waye.g. team loyalty,entertaining the fansuddenly meant nothing. All that mattered to many players was what they could do personally and how much money they could make. Then when MLB players went on strike to make more money, when they were already making more in a year than most hard-working Americans could hope to make in five or more years, it made me sick. They didnt care about how much the fans would miss the game. All that mattered was their cut of the pie, and they wanted it to be as big as possible. That is when baseball players went in my mind from great athletes whom I admired to greedy individuals. But then last week the players of the Boston Red Sox and the Oakland Athletics did something that helped me regain some of the respect I once held for professional baseball players; I thank them for that. To those of you who dont know the story, these two teams went to Japan last week and started the season by playing each other over there twice. When the trip was agreed upon the league agreed to compensate the players and coaches for the trip. In less than 24 hours before they were to leave, the players discovered they were still being compensated, but not their coaches for whatever reason. The players on both teams got together, and both groups decided to boycott the trip unless Major League Baseball changed their stance and lived up to the original agreement. It worked. Major League Baseball found the necessary funds and within hours of the players threatened boycott announced that the coaches would be compensated as originally agreed upon. The fact that the players won their unified protest was just gravy, but not the real source of my pride. I am proud of them because they stood up and did what was right. They risked a once in a lifetime free trip to stand up, not for themselves but for their coaches. You know, the guys in low level management. Such an act takes a certain degree of selflessnes. A trait I wasnt so sure many baseball players held. With two whole teams engaging in such an act I guess they proved me wrong to a certain degree, and I thank them for it. Fred Pockette lives in Forest Dale, Vt. He is an OVUHS coach, baseball fan, and sports writer for the Rutland Tribune and Addison Eagle newspapers.

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