Baseball steals more than just bases

Stuck in the recovery of one of the worst recessions in U.S. history, millions of Americans are being priced out of their God-given right to be entertained by this country’s fantastic pastime: Major League Baseball. (And for the few who are still willing to bring their family to the ballpark, they’re practically opening their wallets and directing the hands of greedy businessmen toward their few remaining dollars.)

Ticket prices, on average, in 2010 were bumped up 1.5 percent from last year’s numbers (according to research by Team Marketing Report). That’s the smallest increase since the agency first started in 1991, which means that ticket prices have been rapidly increasing every year for the past 20 years.

That also means ticket prices have increased more than 1.5 percent every year from 1991 to 2009. Average prices around the league in 2010 reached nearly $27. If a good, hardworking American family wanted to spend their day at the park, then they had to drop almost $200. That is robbery.

It is clear that team owners, league officials and the player’s union have joined forces to create a cartel, dedicated to draining America of its wealth. Entertainment prices have increased nearly 15 percent since 1997 (measured by the Consumer Price Index), and Major League Baseball is working diligently to grab the largest share of this booming market.

Leading the way are the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets – pause, deep breath — Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Washington Nationals, Houston Astros, Toronto Blue Jays and Minnesota Twins. All of these teams charged a family of four over $200 for the average ballpark experience.

Meanwhile, Alex Rodriguez, C.C. Sabathia, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Johan Santana and Miguel Cabrera all made at least $20 million in 2010. As a comparison, Babe Ruth made only $70,000 in 1927, the year he smacked 60 home runs (a record that stood for 34 years). Do the math; it does not make any sense.

Pitcher Cliff Lee is about to join this list. Lee was reportedly, according to Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports, offered a contract worth an average over $20 million per year by the New York Yankees last week. If Lee joined the Yankees on that contract, then he, along with teammates-to-be Alex Rodriguez, C.C. Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett, would be owed roughly $120 million in 2011. That is more than the 2009 gross domestic product of 10 countries, according to the CIA World Factbook.

Then there is MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, who made, according to Sports Business Journal, over $18 million in 2007.

Major media organizations are not holding these crooks accountable for capitalizing on the few dollars Americans still have. Broadcaster Scott Van Pelt was suspended by ESPN in February 2009 after he criticized Selig’s absurd salary on one of the network’s many radio stations.

ESPN, like other sports networks, pays MLB and the other major sports leagues each year for the rights to broadcast copyrighted footage. Even the media is being looted by this cartel. Perhaps that is why these should-be-felons are free to steal our hard-earned dollars without even a single headline.

And what about the government? Citigroup was rescued by the American government with bailouts that totaled at least $45 billion during the recession. This is the same financial organization that has a $400 million deal with the New York Mets for naming rights to their stadium. Connect the dots: the American tax dollar can’t even escape these bandits.

Major League Baseball and all of its affiliated partners need to be kept in check. America’s economy has been teetering for the last three years while this industry acts like a vacuum, sucking in every penny that America loses in the proverbial couch.