Thursday, December 13, 2007

A sad day for Baseball

I love baseball. It is the national pastime and what a delightful afternoon a day of baseball makes. Today's Mitchell report [pdf] is out and I am depressed again (cycling in the summer, baseball in the winter).
Brian Roberts? How is Baltimore drowning in steriods and they are so darn awful!? Lenny Dykstra? Bigbie, Clemons, Petite, Chuck Knoblauch, David Justice, Mo Vaughn, Miguel Tejada and the list goes on and on. My stomach is sick from this report.

I am reminded of the 1993 tobacco hearings- those five or six executives from the tobacco company stood up, put their right hand up and swore to tell the truth-->then said tobacco did not cause health problems. Liars. Cheaters.

Americans love their heros and I am certainly one of them - not that sports figures are heroic (certainly not now). We love to think if one works real hard, has that much commitment great things can be accomplished, it is fundamentally the American Dream played everyday. The highs and the lows, the drama all of it is awesome. I am really ok though if athletes are good but not record setting- sports is inherently dramatic without cheating.

Are we so needy as Americans to be the best that we drive our sports figures to steroids, performance enhancing drugs?


Andrew Hersey said...

Agreed. I haven't read the report, but the steroid/cheating scandals make it all feels so... hopeless.

Hopefully this will (eventually) lead to the realization amongst the powers that be that fans will only care about the game when the game cares about the game.

Sean Tubbs said...

I don't feel hopeless. If anything, I think I feel pretty good that this report finally came out, and that it corrects something that while pretty reprehensible was perfectly normal.

I mean, sure, all the records will need to have asterixes put next to them, but admit it: It was exciting while it lasted. I'm not going to redefine how I feel about the 1998 battle between McGuire and Sosa. It was exciting, and it was fun. Was it because of juice? Of course. But, it was exciting, and we were entertained. At the end of the day, it's all theater. It's a team sport that's played to make money, and in that way I think it different from the idea of the Olympics, where it really is about being the best, for a reason.

Now it's time to make sure this doesn't happen again, but I worry that all of the fun is going to go out of it now that we'll have to hear about testing non-stop.

But, I don't think it's a sad day. I read the first 25 pages of the report, and I think it's a victorious day because an investigation was allowed to proceed, and it told the absolute truth and didn't sugar coat it. Mitchell has produced a very legible, thorough investigation. I'm planning on reading the whole thing, because, as I said, this is theater, and the individual stories are interesting. What would push these men to risk it all? Individually, they all had different reasons. And, how did we as a nation react? We've already begun punishing those who broke the rules. Mark McGuire will never go in the Hall of Fame. Neither will anyone on that list. They're the heirs of the Black Sox.

But, the sport itself will find a way. A lot of players weren't on the list. That means they're still a lot of excellent, world-class athletes who did play by the rules. And, attendance at the gates has gone up since this was more or less a public secret. We've had some classic World Series.

And, I think now that Barry Bonds is gone, a lot of people will come back to the game again, just like they eventually did after the last strike. I personally was disgusted that he was allowed to play, and I'm also disgusted that the player's union did absolutely nothing to assist Mitchell. But, again, it all makes for a great story, and I think that today is a positive day, because it means that baseball can clean house. Now, we have new records to look forward, as I am confident that legitimate players will replace at least many of the game's most important milestones.

mckora said...

I was a little disappointed about Brian Roberts,(Sherry, much more so) but not surprised at all. Realize that the list is incomplete due to lack of good information. I hope we can go forward from here. I still love baseball.

Sean really hit the target!