Saturday, February 16, 2008

"It's Baseball, Ray"

Spring training has arrived and for baseball fans such as myself, it's a great time of the year. We get speculations upon speculations on how teams will do, how the stars will produce, which rookies will make a difference, and now, in this era, who is juiced, who may be juiced, and who must be juiced.

When I was a kid, the Dodgers left Brooklyn and came to L.A. I was already playing kids' ball in our local rec league. Not only did the Dodgers show up, so did the best baseball radio play-by-play announcer ever: Vin Sculley. I listened to him doing my homework, on the road with my folks, in Dodger Stadium while watching Don Drysdale knockdown batters and win games. I saw Sandy Kofax strike out 18 Cubs and heard Vin Sculley call the action at the same time. The stands were full of fans with the ubiquitous transistor radio. I fell asleep hearing him sign off: "This is Vin Sculley along with Jerry Doggett saying goodnight from Dodger Stadium, as the Los Angeles Dodgers defeat the San Francisco Giants 4 to 3."

And now we have ballplayers in front of Congress testifying about steroid use. I just wish Congress would go away and let baseball take care of itself. It has in the past and will continue to do so in the future. We don't need a room full of grandstanding politicians trying to impress us with their power, ignorance of the game, and general lack of any sense of what's important. The country is at war, we have economic problems and Congress wants to know who used steroids. This is an appalling waste of time and money.

Baseball has survived gamblers and cheaters. Field of Dreams starts by trying to explain how gamblers tried to corrupt the game and failed, and even made if not martyrs at least heroes of the 8 Sox players. We've had spitballers in the Hall of Fame and drunks winning batting titles and pitching no-hitters. Steroid users are called cheaters; they degrade the game say some. I say no they don't. Before testing anyone could use steroids; I cannot see punishing those who chose that path. It was available to all who wanted it.

Ty Cobb was a mean-spirited, bigoted thug, yet he is in the Hall of Fame. Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire will never make it because we suspect they cheated with drugs. Yet when they had that great home-run race we all stood and cheered. Baseball is full of stats and hypocrites: maybe we can't live with both, but baseball will survive both.

What we cannot live with is our elected representatives posturing in front of cameras in the name of saving baseball. "We have to do this for the children" some say. Crap. What greater lesson can a child learn than his/her hero is human and took advantage of the situation or cheated? Like the poor, cheaters will always be among us.

Yes, Ray, baseball will survive as long as we value team sports. The game has been altered somewhat (the despicable designated hitter rule, e.g.) but it is still baseball. It's the only major sport where the defense controls the ball. There is no time clock. Each side gets the same number of chances on offence. But you know the uniqueness and timelessness of baseball, and others have said it better.

Just for now, I would like Congress to get out of all sports, and as Mad Max says on Johnboy and Billy: Congress critters get out of baseball, stop posing for cameras, get back to work, and quit ruining my life. Y'all have a good day.

BRB is Write(and still loves Baseball. Hurry up April 1)


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