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Baseball is being ruined by the “cult of individualism,” says some guy

Jun 16, 2011, 3:30 PM EST

The thinker

I get accused — not wrongly — of over thinking things from time to time. Well I got nothin’ on David Sirota, who writes in Salon today about how our society’s veneration of the individual over the collective is ruining baseball.

The basis of his argument: a study which shows that teams who spend big money on individual players as opposed to spreading payroll out more equitably do better financially, even as they do more poorly in the won-loss column.

The observation leads to this kind of thing, which could lead to one of those Andrew Sullivan-style “Poseur Awards” were I so inclined to bestow them on people:

… considering the history, it’s hardly a surprise that the worship of the individual is so powerfully reflected in sports in general — even in those sports that are structured against the individual. That’s because while political forces like Reaganism and Tea Party-ism have certainly helped intensify hyper-individualism, nothing has been more powerful in selling that ethos than professional athletics.

Note: unless you’re quoting Walter’s take about nihilists from “The Big Lebowski,” anyone who uses the term “ethos” in general writing needs to loosen up a bit.

That aside, anyone who has taken a decent Western Civ course in the past 25 years or so knows that our society’s focus on the individual at the expense of the collective is something that began — or, rather, re-emerged — in the Renaissance, not some time in the 1980s when you decided you didn’t much care for the culture anymore. At least among elites, which is what superstar athletes are.

So what I’m saying is that this is not news, let alone troubling news.  The individual has been a major draw in baseball since basically the beginning of baseball. Just ask Babe Ruth. Or any other big name player who was given a contract to show up on some barnstorming tour at one time or another. Wait, you can’t ask them because they’re all long dead.

In other news, yes, there are lengths to how much over analysis I can stand. And with this, I think we’ve reached it.

  1. Chris Fiorentino - Jun 16, 2011 at 3:39 PM

    “I don’t like your jerk-off name. I don’t like your jerk-off face. I don’t like your jerk-off behavior, and I don’t like you, jerk-off”

    This pretty much sums up my feelings for both David Serota and the whole Salon website.

    • yankeesfanlen - Jun 16, 2011 at 3:49 PM

      And just to be equitable about the whole matter, let’s all “thumbs up” this post no matter what anyone says.

  2. tmohr - Jun 16, 2011 at 3:41 PM

    If you’re interested in reading TFA, it’s at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/14413523 (article 7)

  3. halladaysbicepts - Jun 16, 2011 at 3:44 PM

    This David Sirota guy is a deep thinker, much like myself. I tend to agree with his viewpoint that great individual athletes sell themselves and that the team collective somehow suffers because of it. It is an intangible that is not easily defined.

    Look at a team like the Mets. Individually, they have many players that are making some real coin. But collectively, they have not played to their capabilities as their salaries dictate because the team as a whole does not function well together.

    Unlike the Phillies, who not only make a lot of coin individually, but also play like a real team, that genuinely like one another. But, that’s a topic for another day.

    • b7p19 - Jun 16, 2011 at 4:46 PM

      Sorry Len, couldn’t do it here. The point was missed. At least we are once again reminded that the Phillies are the greatest thing to ever grace this earth.

    • spudchukar - Jun 16, 2011 at 5:51 PM

      So cepts, your real name is Jack Handey, author of “Deep Thoughts”?

    • ditto65 - Jun 16, 2011 at 9:01 PM

      I’m thinkin’ ‘bicepts proves and disproves his own theory in the same post. Awesome.

    • Old Gator - Jun 16, 2011 at 11:02 PM

      Incidentally, the original name of that sculpture was “Man Shitting Without Newspaper.” They changed it to “The Thinker” so they could show it on Sesame Street.

    • bennyblanco1 - Jun 17, 2011 at 9:12 AM

      halladaysbicepts spewing more hate about the Mets??? I cant beleive it.

  4. yankeesfanlen - Jun 16, 2011 at 3:45 PM

    What this quasi-political, theorectical and rhetorical claptrap has to do with baseball is well beyomd my supposed University of Phoenix education.
    I guess the answer is- Leave ARod Alone!

  5. skerney - Jun 16, 2011 at 3:56 PM

    The confrontation between individuals is the best component of baseball. Pitcher against batter, one on one. No double teaming like the NBA, no linebackers and free safetys double tackling, no goons with sticks shoulder checking you. Just two individuals trying to use their skill, ability, and brains to best the other guy.

  6. royalsfaninfargo - Jun 16, 2011 at 3:58 PM

    This is a stupid premise for article. Shouldnt Salon.com go back to examining those very important Sarah Palin emails?

  7. philly56 - Jun 16, 2011 at 4:15 PM

    Communism has no place in American baseball.

    • ditto65 - Jun 16, 2011 at 9:09 PM

      Except when you tax the highest payrolls and redistribute that wealth tot the wealthy owners that are under no obligation to use those funds to improve their team.

      Lesson there, kiddies? Communism is corrupt.

  8. jwbiii - Jun 16, 2011 at 4:22 PM

    That aside, anyone who has taken a decent Western Civ course in the past 25 years or so knows that our society’s focus on the individual at the expense of the collective is something that began — or, rather, re-emerged — in the Renaissance, not some time in the 1980s

    Silly person. It began with the DH in 1973.

    • spudchukar - Jun 16, 2011 at 5:52 PM

      Your confused JW, that is the cause of the downfall of the Roman Empire.

  9. The Baseball Idiot - Jun 16, 2011 at 4:27 PM

    Someone has to say it: TEAM CHEMISTRY

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