All about the money

By Anthony Rhoads

A couple of weeks or so ago, Major League baseball was turned upside-down when there was a proposal to put ads for the Spider-Man 2 movie on bases at Yankee Stadium.

In an increasingly-commercial society, the proposal should have come as no surprise.

You only have to go to a Major League ballpark to see how commercial the game has become.

As much as I like going to Turner Field, it has a plethora of advertisements and is basically a theme park for baseball with all of its attractions such as Tooner Field and Scouts Alley. Seeing advertisements and being bombarded by stuff that has little to do with the action on the field is to be expected when you go to a Major League Baseball nowadays.

When the Spider-Man 2 deal came out, a lot of folks were saying that if the ads were placed on the bases, it would ruin the integrity of the game.

What integrity? Are you talking about the standard that was set by guys like Steve Howe? Remember Steve Howe? He was the guy who was suspended seven times for substance abuse.

Now, Major League Baseball is having to face the reality that many guys might be on steroids. With the amount of home runs being hit today and players increasingly looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger, you can't tell me that there's no steroid use going on in the Major Leagues. If you believe there's no steroid use going on in the Major Leagues, I've got some ocean-front property in West Virginia I would like to sell you.

The guys who are taking the steroids and performance-enhancing substances are the ones who are ruining the integrity of the game. Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players' Association are ruining the integrity of the game by not doing more to address the problem.

Other professional leagues such as the NFL have taken aggressive approaches to steroids and Major League Baseball should do the same.

But some folks are worried about real issues like advertisements being on the field of play.

The advertisements aren't going to ruin the ?integrity' of the game. How can you ruin the integrity when there is little or no integrity to begin with?

How can an advertisement ruin the sport? Ballparks are already inundated with ads and what about in the old days, when board advertisements lined every big league ballpark? Did those ads ruin the ?purity' of the game?

Major League Baseball needs to take a cue from NASCAR.

NASCAR, more than any other professional league, knows what it's all about.

NASCAR makes no pretenses about it – it's all about the sponsorships and the money.

NASCAR is definitely the most commercialized sport as cars and drivers are plastered with advertisements.

The increase in sponsorships hasn't ruined NASCAR. In fact, NASCAR has been able to grow into what it is now partly because of the money sponsors have poured into the sport.

NASCAR really gets what a professional league is all about. Unfortunately, Major League Baseball doesn't get it and that may be its undoing.

Anthony Rhoads is a columnist for the Daily and his columns appear on Wednesdays. He can be reached at arhoads@news-daily.com or sports@news-daily.com.