Whether the label of “pastime” still applies to baseball, specifically Major League Baseball, I don’t know. It’s certainly not America’s favorite sport anymore, if that’s what gives a game and league that mantle. But it certainly does represent what America is these days, which isn’t a good thing.
Baseball has always been decidedly associated with Americana, so maybe that’s what made it a “pastime.” Or maybe it was that every kid in the past grew up playing it at some point. But it is the sharp end of how this country runs now, and what its priorities are — ignoring morality, decency, and anyone who might be in the way to make sure you can make an extra few dollars you’ll never need and probably never notice when you’re already a billionaire.
Indeed, MLB found every way to downsize and strip paychecks from its employees, using the pandemic as a shield, while also maximizing every revenue stream that didn’t actually involve putting out a decent product. And now, as it has been, MLB is following the true American tradition of donating to politicians who protect your evil ways, even if those politicians wanted to overturn the very principles this country is supposedly built on:
The “why” is pretty clear, because funding like this, directed at legislators like Florida Republican Rick Scott, leads to the passage of bills like MLB’s barbaric “Save America’s Pastime Act,” which was basically congressional protection for MLB to pay minor leaguers porridge and pocket lint (and no, providing housing doesn’t make up for that).
In the last election cycle, MLB’s PAC — the “Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball Political Action Committee” — actually donated more to Democrats than Republicans, though that’s probably just having a finger in the wind. It is truly a wonder that MLB can move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta (or an Atlanta-adjacent area) because of their suppression of voting rights in the state, and then turn around and donate to a committee run by a guy who wanted to simply invalidate more than half the country’s votes.
As Keith Law has pointed out, the league’s owners, on their own, have clearly shown who they are:
This list doesn’t include the owners of the Cubs (one of whom is the governor of Nebraska with a skewed view of the world) or their dad’s views on immigrants and non-whites, or the local elections they’ve tried to influence or where their money goes or for whom they use Wrigley to raise money. Or the way the A’s and MLB itself are attempting to pocket tax money for their own profit in Oakland or Vegas. Nor does this list include the Rays attempting to hold both Tampa and Montreal hostage at the same time.
Pastime, maybe not. Metaphor? For damn sure.