December 31, 2007
This has been a mixed year for Our National Pastime, with continued discouraging fallout from the steroid / dope scandals, but with uplifting stories of courageous underdogs (Nationals), spirited comebackers (Rockies), and deserving champions (Red Sox). The main downside was that the playoff series were imbalanced, most of them being swept, which hurt TV ratings and advertising revenues. Nevertheless, the superb All Star game raised hope for growth in fan interest, upon which baseball's fortunes rest. It was surprising that most fans seemed to overlook all the bad news and kept forking over big bucks for tickets. I just hope that the franchise owners and Commissioner Selig appreciate how lucky they are to have such loyal, forgiving fans.
Anyway, here is my (highly biased) ranking of the Top Ten stories in baseball this past year, with links to the blog posts in question:
Ballpark-wise, 2007 was the first year since 1988 that there were no new major league baseball stadiums built, nor any major renovations on old stadiums, nor any inheritance, name changes, or demolitions of stadiums. (See the Stadium chronology annual page.) Four stadiums are under construction, however, and there are tentative plans to build at least two more.
Last week's Sports Illustrated featured a sobering essay by Tom Verducci about the steroid problem. He is right that if the owners and players do not find a way to tackle this scourge in a cooperative fashion, there will be backsliding. Furthermore, the dope testing must be done by an outside agency, not by MLB itself. I also noticed on one page a reproduced front page from The Trentonian tabloid with the face of Mark McGwire and a devastating headline: "He took it in the butt." (Referring to the hypodermic needle, of course.) Well, as they say, that's gotta hurt!
"Just wait till next year!" Well, that's right around the corner, isn't it? Indeed, there a number of significant revisions and enhancements to many of the baseball stadium diagrams that will appear on this Web site in coming weeks. I do appreciate the recent shows of support from fans.