Thursday, March 09, 2006

Baseball and Hypocrisy

The state of baseball - "America's Pastime" - often seems to reflect the image of the nation itself. In the 20's, baseball was rough - cigar chomping tough guys who were hard drinkers (think Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and Co.). In the fifties and early sixties, baseball was idyllic - Gods of the game played at temples of Americana. Joe DiMaggio retired in 1951, the same year that Willie Mays was picked up by the Giants. Names from this era roll off of the tongue: Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Roy Campanella, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Bob Feller, Whitey Ford, Stan Musial, Al Kaline, Satchel Paige, Jackie Robinson, and Pee Wee Reese, to name just a few (and these are only Hall of Famers).

Now, let's skip forward to the current state of the game. Baseball is again mirroring our culture: spoiled rich brats, in the game only for themselves. Pitchers are useless unless they can hurl 100 mph fastballs. Every batter has to be a power hitter, which runs contrary to everything my coaches taught me when I learned the game: strategy has gone out the window to quick fixes and instant scores. Barry Bonds is a prime example of this.

Bonds was good. The man honestly deserved MVP awards he never received when playing with the beleagured Pirates in the early 1990's. Now, the man so close to beating the Babe's career home run record, so close to catching Hank Aaron, is a proven steroid abuser. Granted, baseball didn't ban steroids until 2002; however, recent books prove that he was using them from 1998-2003. He is suspected to still use them, but the proof ran out upon the FBI's BALCO raid of 2003.

Pete Rose was banned for life for gambling on baseball. He maintained his innocence throughout the scandal, yet was banned anyway. Later, he admitted to betting on baseball, but never on his own team (of which he was never accused). This is, I will admit, correct. He should not be allowed into the Hall of Fame because his actions tainted the game (although I think, again, that his gambling in the 80's reflected the money money money culture of the nation at the time).

Barry Bonds's reply? "I won't even look at it." This is not a denial, nor is it an admission. He maintains his innocence through a "no comment" comment; although the proof against him is as overwhelming as it was against Rose. Pete Rose holds the record for the most career hits. Bonds holds the record for most home runs in a season (while on steroids), and may break the record for most career home runs. Rose's stature in the game when he was banned is equal to that of Bonds right now. Barry Bonds should be banned from baseball for life, barred from the Hall of Fame, yet Bud Selig has not made any comments thus far.

Let's look at this hypocrisy: Rose is banned from baseball for tainting it with gambling. Our children should not look at Pete Rose and say, "I want to be just like Pete Rose when I grow up," because he was a gambler. Bonds has yet to be banned. Should our children look at Barry Bonds and say, "I want to be just like Barry Bonds when I grow up, which means I'll have to take undetectable designer steroids."? Are we saying that looking up to a gambler is worse than looking up to a drug user whose actions constitute cheating?

I'm a lifelong baseball fan, but the game has really gone downhill since the "strike."
Currently playing on miPod: "Worldwide Suicide," by Pearl Jam

No comments: