The Great American Pasttime, Overtaken by an Oligarchy

Welcome to the Clubhouse report.

First up the Indians. Not only is their streak of 455 sell-outs over, but there are 5,000, 10,000, 15,000 empty seats each game. Sure they lost a strong player in Manny Ramirez, but they are still a playoff team with years of success in a sensational sports city. What happened?

The same could be said about Houston and their inability to sell out their home opener in a stadium that's just a year old. Hey, I know the Astro's struggled last year, but not selling out a home opener in a city that has had a consistent winner through most of the last 10 years us flat-out scary.

Add to that the No. 1 sports city in America -- Philadelphia. Philly didn't sell out it's opener, and Tampa Bay is giving away tickets. Then you read about the Braves having empty seats on their first game, and you have reason to truly worry about this sport's future.

And this on the heals of bone-chilling news that the D-backs asked their stars to defer their salaries so they can make payroll.

Maybe these people are staying away because, only four teams have a realistic chance of making it to the world series out of 30. Look at the evidence -- America's pastime is sliding blindly into an NBA-like oligarchy.

Notice I did not even bring up the upcoming player-owner talks that could result in yet another work stoppage. So, attention New York. Attention Boston, Baltimore, Texas and San Francisco. Business may be good by you, but open up your eyes and realize your corporation is falling apart.

Finally, all this talk about Michael Jordan coming back.

The people speaking out are the ones who know MJ the best. They make me resent Jerry Reinsdorf and Jerry Krause of the Bulls all the more. They allowed that dynasty to shatter prematurely because they did not want to become the Celtics of the next century. In reality they're worse.

MJ needed Phil back on the bench and Scotty along his flank. He knew he could still play and still wanted to play, but they essentially forced him out by cutting off his options. That team deserved a run at seven titles, and America would have loved to watch them try.

Instead Scottie's trying to lead the Blazers, Jackson's out on the West Coast gunning for back-to-backs and MJ struggles in DC to see if there's enough left in his tank or on his Wizards to make a comeback at 39 all worthwhile. It did not have to be!

Thanks Jerrys — you should be banned from Bulls for disbanding the Bulls.

Thanks for reading the Clubhouse Report. Video reports return in a few weeks, and feel free to comment on the column: