Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?
ESPN has been running a series called The Ultimate Race. It's a humorous take on peak oil and global warming, with a supposed competition over which of them will end the world first. Rather an odd subject for a sports site, but I guess it's good that they are raising awareness. I was reminded of it, looking at an array of seemingly unconnected stories in the news today.
The Reds just announced that they are officially moving their spring training camp from Florida to Arizona. Starting in 2010, they'll be in the Cactus League, not the Grapefruit League. I wonder if they are making a mistake.
Sarasota is close enough to Cincinnati that a family can drive down for a long weekend, take in a few games, and go home. Or they can make it a longer vacation, go to the beach, Disney World, etc.
Phoenix is more difficult. You pretty much have to fly, which can be expensive for a family. And Phoenix is less of a family vacation kind of place (though retirees love it).
Obviously, the Reds thought moving to Phoenix made economic sense. Their facilities in Florida are old, and the city of Sarasota wasn't keen on helping them upgrade. But their plans may be based on circumstances that no longer exist.
High oil prices are a game-changer. Oil is pushing toward $150 a barrel - after years of being around $25 a barrel. This is undermining the economy in ways that are only just beginning to be felt. GM might go bankrupt. American Airlines is laying off 200 pilots in an attempt to deal with high fuel prices - the latest in a long line of bad news from airlines. Americans are increasingly worried about the economy, and struggling with high food and fuel prices. There's rising concern that we might be falling into another Great Depression - or worse. The mortgage crisis, Indymac, Freddie, Fannie...even CNN's usually staid Bill Schneider says the economy seems to be "spinning out of control."
Perhaps worst of all is that there doesn't seem to be an end to it. The politicos keep saying it's almost over - that we're in the bottom of the ninth. But this might actually be just the top of the second, or even the singing of the national anthem.
A lot of people are hanging in there, hoping prices go back down and the economy bounces back. But what if it's not temporary? What if we are transitioning to a world of permanently higher energy prices, maybe even energy shortages?
The sports world is not immune. I doubt Derek Jeter will ever have to worry about paying for gas for his Ford Edge...but as people cut back on things like cable subscriptions, even the superstars of baseball will be affected.
And the Jeters of the world might suffer a bit if more banks go belly-up, like Indymac. My bank failed a few months ago, but I didn't lose a penny, because my accounts were under the $100,000 limit for FDIC insurance. (Well under!) But baseball players make more than that in one year, and the ones who make really big bucks probably find it difficult to make sure they don't have more than $100,000 per bank. (Yes, the limit is per bank, not per account. So if you have $100,000 in a savings account and $100,000 in a checking account in the same bank, and it fails, you're only covered for $100,000 total.)
Anyways, I am still hoping and planning to get to spring training for a week or two next year. But the year after, in 2010...who knows. I have a feeling there will be a lot fewer fans in the stands by then.
Labels: The Greater Depression
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