A field of dreams no more

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Field of Dreams captured the beauty of baseball. It highlighted the mystical connection to America's past, the working-class values, even the innocence of the game's biggest stars. The movie focused on all that's right about baseball and became an instant classic; a monument to the power and grace of America's pastime.

I loved Field of Dreams. Every time I see James Earl Jones deliver his soliloquy at the end of the movie I get shivers down my spine. Baseball is beautiful, but Major League Baseball should die.

The mystic quality is no longer enough to keep the game alive. Maybe it is enough to keep the ideals of the game alive, but Major League Baseball should die.

Today's beautiful ballparks and universal television coverage give the game its most prominent and most intricate stage ever. But baseball is a corrupt and drug-riddled shell of former glory--a glory that left the American pastime when no one was looking at all.

The mantra of the great W.P. Kinsella's story is "if you build it, he will come." Kinsella's hero, Ray, almost gave up his entire livelihood to carve out a ballpark from an Iowa cornfield because he heard whispers in the night.

These days, building a stadium costs around $300 million of public money and owners hold entire cities hostage with threats of leaving town. The sad thing is, no one even notices there are no more places for them to go. Baseball expanded to Tampa, Miami, Phoenix and even Denver. They built it, but "if you don't pay, we will leave" is the phrase du jour.

The best part of Field of Dreams comes at the end. Ray fulfills his personal quest and plays catch with his father. Family, small town America and baseball. Beautiful.

Today, the game is ill. Drugs entered baseball and former players admit they juiced up to get better. We're seeing the first public steroid scandal, how many more can there be. How many can Major League Baseball withstand?

This is quite different from Shoeless Joe Jackson. He was banned from baseball along with the "Black Sox" for allegedly throwing the 1919 World Series.

The players threw the games to earn more money because owner Charles Comiskey did not pay them the wages they deserved. This was before unionization, before the big money. In those days, players shared their hotel rooms and made ends meet in the winter. Today, Texas Rangers shortstop Alex Rodriguez has a $252 million dollar contract. That's more than a small country's GDP.

Fourteen former owners of the Montreal Expos filed a lawsuit against league commissioner Bud Selig and former Expos owner Jeffrey Loria. The lawsuit accuses them of sabotaging the Montreal Expos franchise from within for their personal gain.

Along with another looming strike, this has a good chance to bring down Major League Baseball. I hope it does. Maybe it's time to start over again, and recapture the love and integrity that are both long gone.