Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sinking the Mayflower

Something on baseball...something on baseball... You know, I believe I only have so many words to use a month, and I think I've used them all up. That and there's really nothing too exciting in baseball to write about. Sure there was the McGwire admission, which took ALL press attention from the Reds on the one day they should have been in the news. Can't you big markets give us small market folks just one day in the spotlight?

I've written before that I don't care about steroids, that Barry Bonds is my favorite non-Reds player ever, and that I think this whole "controversy" is largely just a bunch of that brand of moralizing horsey doodoo that is so typically American. Drugs Are Bad. War on Drugs. Mandatory Sentences. This Is Your Egg Brain. Everyone and his brother and sister and mother and father and neighbor and dog has weighed in on the subject, so I will say no more.

Except.

Comparisons of Rose to the Roid Boys are stupid, though I think Rose would have used had steroids been available back then, which brings me to another who-cares-about-roids point. People keep saying "The Steroid Era," but how many ballplayers of the past would have used if the drugs had been available to them? Yep. That weird thing we call nostalgia has purged all the evil from the past, and the HOFers are all saints. Except Ty Cobb. Everyone knows he was a jerk, thanks to Tommy Lee Jones.

The Roid Boys didn't murder anyone. They just wanted to be the best and they used the technology available to them to get there. Bud "National Disgrace" Selig let this happen because baseball needed something to bring it back from the strike. If anyone should be banned from baseball, it should be him. Did the Roid Boys cheat? Well, steroids weren't specifically banned in baseball. We know both hitters and pitchers did it. That's pretty much all we know, because we'll never get all of the names of the guilty. Was McGwire's apology one of those non-apologies? Maybe, but you could see he really did regret using. What's done is done. It is what it is. Time to move on.

So I guess this is my steroid post, or another of them anyway, and despite "not caring," I had to say something. Because McGwire belongs in the Hall. Bonds belongs in the Hall. Sosa belongs in the Hall. I enjoyed every minute of watching them play, even as my hatred for the Deadbirds and Chub$ was growing. I sat on the floor of my door room at Miami one September day in 1998, eyes one with the television screen, and nothing will ruin the way I felt watching that game, especially not some puritanical blabbering from the can-do-no-wrong self-righteous sports-writing generals of the nothing-but-sports crusader army who have an uncanny ability to lead the mouthbreathers to arms.

I guess I did have some words left.

3 comments:

Daedalus said...

Feel free to disagree. This is my opinion, and you won't change it.

johnU said...

Interesting posit on whether the old-timers would have used steroids. If we analyze every player from every era and ask:

If you could get the advantage, would you?

Some might just say no for reasons of religion, but I doubt many would do it because of sportsmanship.

Alleging they understood the risks, how many?

What was the payoff?

Pick a player, any player. Make your own judgment.

Anonymous said...

In 1972, Game 5 of the NL Playoffs. Johnny Bench hit a home run over Roberto Clemente's head to tie the game. Later, with a runner on 3rd base, Dave Guisti (or was it Bob Moose? ...one of them threw the gopher ball to Bench, the other threw the wild pitch...) threw a wild pitch to Hal McRae (or was it George Foster?), allowing George Foster (or was it Hal McRae?) to score from 3rd base to win the game, sending the Reds to their 2nd World Series in three seasons. Would the excitement of Al Michael's play-by-play have been stronger if the Reds had scored the winning run on a steroid-induced walk-off homerun? NO. Steroids have bent the record book all out of whack.

You yourself wrote recently that baseball "exists to create memories. In no other sport is the sense of nostalgia so strong". What kinds of memories are 70 homeruns, when we can assume 10-15 of them were steroid-homers? What kind of nostalgia is it which young baseball fans appreciate? It seems that the homerun is the know-all and end-all of modern (post-1990) baseball. But not for those of us who are older and who remember other things than the steroid-homerun which turned a Series around.

To wit: Willie Mays' catch against the Indians back in '54 which effectively ended the Indians season. How about a light-hitting 2nd baseman, Bill Mazerowski, homering to beat the Yankees on my birthday (my actual birthday...) back in 1960 beating the mighty Yankees after the Yankees had outscored the Pirates by a ton through a six game split.

As much as I hated him at the time, what about Brooks Robinson's defense at 3rd base in the 1970 Series, robbing Johnny Bench and Lee May time and time again, securing the Series for the Orioles? Light-hitting Gene Tenace's un-human display in the 1972 Series, sinking the Reds nearly single handedly, or Joe Rudi's catch of a flyball while being splayed out all over the leftfield wall at Riverfront?

Bench's aforemention home run to tie the 1972 NLCS game 5 was exciting, but the wild pitch - and Al Michael's call of it will never be forgotten!

The steroid homerun should simply not be allowed to be a part of the nostalgia of baseball, and if the youth of the baseball-playing world take these players and their bogus records to their collective breasts and clamor for these players admission to the Hall of Fame, then I can only proclaim it to be wrong.

Surely, if Bonds and McGwire and Sosa had hit 58-60 home runs - cleanly - they would most certainly be considered first time candidates for the hall. No question. They could have beaten Maris and Aaron's records for all I care - as long as it was done cleanly. But they cheated. They cheated their opposition, they cheated the fans - especially the kids (and baseball 'purists' who appreciate the nostalgia of the game...), they cheated the history of the game, they cheated the all-time greats out of their records. This cannot be accepted, Sister Daedalus.

Considering your proclaimed love for the game and your appreciation for the game's history and nostalgia, it surprises me that you accept the steroid-records with your "What's done is done. It is what it is. Time to move on."

Sorry, but I have to say that I'm disappointed. That statement, your attitude, it goes against the grain of your wood.

But I'll keep reading your work, because we agree about most stuff, haha.

-Gary M.

PS. Have a safe trip to Beirut.