Reading the daily dispatches about how far apart baseball’s owners and players are at reaching an agreement that would actually make baseball again is no longer worth the bother, as we have reached the point where the details don’t matter as much as sorting out who to hate. Thus, a modest proposal for you who need to focus your anger as the season magically truncates itself.
The owners have the advantage of being largely anonymous because, well, they like anonymity. That’s why you almost never see them doing anything other than moving from the front of their stadium suite to backing away toward the exit, and that’s only if they deign to attend at all, which many of them don’t. But what if there was a concerted effort to name them as individuals and strip them of that anonymity? What if we stopped referring to them as “the owners,” as though they were some sort of amorphous blob of evil, and instead singled out one for specific public loathing? As in turning I hate the owners for ruining baseball into I hate Arte Moreno for ruining baseball?
We all have one owner we can pick on based on geography. If you’re Illinois-based, you can either despise Tom Ricketts of the Cubs for any number of perfectly detestable up-to-date reasons, or Jerry Reinsdorf of the White Sox as evil emeritus. You don’t even have to live near a major league metropolis—just pick one and hate him (mostly) or her specifically. You can even hate a designated kid, like in San Francisco where Charlie Johnson is the nonagenarian right-wing donation machine but lives in Florida and seems impervious to shaming. His kid Greg runs the Giants’ business operations, so you can designate him instead. He hasn’t really done anything overtly wrong, but what’s deserve got to do with it?
There are some readily detestable universal choices here, like Moreno of the Los Angeles Angels or Bob Castellini in Cincinnati or John Fisher in Oakland. If you live in, say, Salt Lake City, you can pick any one you like; you don’t have to be stuck with Dick Monfort in Colorado or Ken Kendrick in Arizona. If you live in Austin, you have Ray Davis in Arlington or Jim Crane in Houston—you can trade off. Or Missouri, where the choices are Bill DeWitt in St. Louis or John Sherman in Kansas City, although if you wish you can confuse him with Bruce Sherman in Miami, who just fired Derek Jeter for not making Sherman richer. If you live in one of the Dakotas, you can do Jim Pohlad in Minnesota, Mark Attanasio in Milwaukee or, if you tend to face west, there’s John Stanton in Seattle. Even if you live in, say, Providence, you have John Henry and Hal Steinbrenner and Stevie Cohen all within an easy drive. You can tailor your foul thoughts to anyone, really, as long as you envision the owner you’re hating for maximum bile.
This is the best way in the short term to be connected to baseball when there is no other baseball to find. You’re not going to pay attention to minor league camps, and there’s nobody to get angry at there anyway. Even if you’re not sure whether the owner you choose is a hardliner like Kendrick in Arizona or a more dovish type like Mark Walter of the Los Angeles Dodgers, or even someone hard to even imagine at all like Chris Ilitch in Detroit or one of the goofy Lerners in Washington, D.C., pick one and have yourself a time. It gives you a rooting interest you otherwise don’t have now, and it helps if we ever revive Better Hate An Owner. This way, you can DIY the whole thing, and not fall into the Rob Manfred cliche; at this point, he’s just a bag of melted caramels with a scowl Sharpied on the outside. You can do better. You should do better.
Anyway, there’s your baseball update for today. It’s just like fantasy leagues, only your fantasy involves something we’re all in the mood for these days—finding someone with too much money and not enough understanding of human condition and setting fire to their third vacation home—at least in your mind’s eye. The lawyers say we cannot actually endorse arson as a pastime. Yet.