The Magazine

Reserve Judgment

How one national pastime (baseball) has been injured by another (the law).

Sep 2, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 48 • By EDWARD ACHORN
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What has been lost? Baseball, the most perfect of games, is no longer the nation’s favorite sport, as those who run it have put its showcase contests on television too late for the young—and, indeed, for many of the old who work for a living. The enticement of contracts worth tens of millions of dollars has put enormous pressure on players to turn themselves into steroid-stuffed beasts whose fraudulent achievements on performance-enhancing drugs have made a mockery of the record books, once one of the most magical things about baseball.

Perhaps I am showing my age—and a hopeless susceptibility to nostalgia—but I think baseball was a better game for fans back in the days when the reserve clause held sway and the antitrust exemption actually meant something. Those cranky old owners of decades past were onto something.

Edward Achorn, editorial page editor of the Providence Journal, is the author, most recently, of The Summer of Beer and Whiskey: How Brewers, Barkeeps, Rowdies, Immigrants, and a Wild Pennant Fight Made Baseball America’s Game