Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Baseball Holds the Line on Change

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Baseball Holds the Line on Change

Article excerpt

CHANGING THE FACE of baseball this year, everything at Major League Baseball looks new and different and exciting - and just the way you remember it.

I kind of wish I could share the near-obsessive sense of emotional attachment true baseball fans feel to their teams. But I guess I'm just too logical.

Their teams, I always want to say. Theirs in what sense, exactly? They don't own stock in these teams. Or know anybody who does. Or know anybody who plays for them. Or stand to profit in any material way from their successes. The unromantic fact of the matter is that the people who own and run and play on professional baseball teams are strangers to nearly all of us - famous strangers, some of them, but still strangers. And yet true fans care deeply about them, exult in their triumphs and let their hearts be broken over and over by their failures. (I could see it if they felt this way about the public schools, which could actually make a real difference in their lives, for better or worse, but no.) Don't think the folks who own these teams don't know how lucky they are to be the beneficiaries of this irrational fanaticism, and don't think they wouldn't hate to see it evaporate. And don't think that they aren't worried that it might - especially given the way attendance slipped after last year's strike/lockout. Which is why the players are wearing the same uniforms this year as last. Over the past several years, uniforms had been getting at once zippier and more nostalgic, as a way to make the knockoffs marketed to fans even more marketable. Meanwhile, hat colors multiplied to give fans an incentive to buy more hats. (Once you own a red Phillies cap, you're unlikely to buy another. But if the Phils start wearing blue caps as well. . . . ) But, after last year's "work stoppage," according to Anne Occi, design honcho at Major League Baseball, it didn't seem fair to ask fans to deal with more change. So this year - apparently working on the principle that no news is good news - they didn't fiddle with logos or colors at all. Which means, among other things, that Chief Wahoo, the wild-eyed, bloodthirsty savage who's the Cleveland Indians' logo/mascot, is back in all his demented glory. …

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