Monday, February 09, 2009
The Good Of The Game
The Players, The Player's Association, Baseball Management, The Teams--you could probably even throw in The Media covering the sport for not reporting steroid use earlier by Major League Players. Many were holding back on the truth. Remember when fans at Fenway Park, in Boston, were shouting "Steroids!!" at now admitted user Jose Canseco, and few involved in Baseball and The Media--the so called 4th Estate--seemed to care.
The "Good Of The Game" had been threatened by a disastrous lockout, over money, courtesy of The Owners and The Commissioner of Baseball in 1994. Upon opening the stadium gates again in 1995, fans had turned away from America's Game in droves. What a surprise when so many involved in the game turned their heads as well, this time though, winking as the game became embroiled in an ever escalating baseball drug crisis. Thankfully, Cal Ripken, Jr. had something positive to add to that late 90's baseball revival by breaking Lou Gehrig's Consecutive Games Played Streak--but so did the many prodigious blasts sent screaming out of every Major League Park in America--beginning in 1996.
The Home Run Was In Fashion.
Yes, there was no turning back now. Fans were loving it. Baseball was truly back on the front pages for a supposed good reason. The ballparks were filled. Major League Baseball was again becoming America's Game. There was even Expansion--The Arizona Diamondbacks and The Tampa Bay Devil Rays (now just Rays) were given fresh franchises in 1998.
The Cash Cow so many owners dream of was heading up stream.
And it wasn't all because of Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa or Barry Bonds (and you can insert your own players here).
Little guys were whacking baseballs out of the ballpark every day. Remember Randy Velarde? I can't tell you the number of times I mentioned to countless friends in the late 90's how Velarde had virtually grown overnight. A living specimen in his mid to late 30's of age--which all of a sudden made him a power hitting middle infielder. He was never that good in his 20's--not even close. How interesting that Randy Velarde quickly faded from the game after the 2001 season.
Yeah, you guessed it--Velarde was eventually mentioned prominently in The Mitchell Report.
I also can't tell you how much this all bothered me back then. I was pissed--mad at the players, the owners, Major League Baseball and The Players' Association for hiding it all. In retrospect, MLBPA Executive Director Donald Fehr and his assistant, Gene Orza, did little to lead the very players they were hired to protect.
But now, with Sport Illustrated reporting and ESPN confirming in their exclusive interview that Alex Rodriguez is the latest Superstar of Baseball to fall from grace--an admitted performance enhancing drug user--I find myself today at the point of not caring anymore. You see, the enjoyment of Major League Baseball has not faded from my mind.
For some time, I have made my peace with this disgraced era of baseball. As saddening as it is to realize the most sacred record in the game (Career Home Runs) may well be physically enhanced and bogus. And that many teams were competing on an uneven level for nearly a decade. My Love Of The Game goes farther than any one person or league, or association can attempt to ruin.
This "BOMBSHELL" about A-Rod, as the media has portrayed, will not kill the game. Nor will the 103 other players that tested positive in the 2003 results--run by Major League Baseball--when their names become known. And it's just a matter of time now for that to happen. Easily, Owners along with Management and Players and their Agents have done enough to kill off Major League Baseball probably 100 times over.
Yet, they haven't finish baseball off. No, not by a long shot.
Understand, I will never forgive Barry Bonds for his unrepentant way--although as I mentioned previously--he is still a Hall Of Fame Player in my mind's eye.
The same holds true for Alex Rodriguez's ticket to Cooperstown. A-Rod is a Great, Great Player (Do you remember that Home Run he hit at RFK Stadium to DEAD CENTERFIELD in June, 2006 that had the Old Ballyard on East Capitol Street BUZZING?--the very game Our Washington Nationals came from 7 down to win!!). To his credit, Rodriguez did finally admit usage today, a little late, after being caught and denying the rumors beforehand--but at least his comments to Peter Gammons of ESPN at his home in Miami--can only help to resurrect his now tainted career.
Like anyone, Americans don't like to be swindled. But we tend to be a forgiving bunch and if someone, anyone, shows remorse and diligently works their way back into the public's eye positively--that person usually gets that second chance. I don't see many people complaining about Andy Pettitte or Jason Giambi now--both admitted users of performance enhancing drugs these days.
Sincerity helps heal.
Pettitte & Giambi learned that. And now Rodriguez has, hopefully, as well.
Despite this major setback from the "Steroids Era" of the game, my admiration for baseball will never fail from my heart.
I love the game. Always will.
Foolish choices will never kill baseball--for me. Yes, the game has been tarnished again. But the Good Of The Game is far greater than any group of selfish foes can accomplish to ruin it. Baseball will live on and the very fact that Alex Rodriguez has been exposed as a previous user will not put a damper on this coming or any future season of Our Washington Nationals and Major League Baseball.
Records were, thankfully, made to be broken. And one of these days an untainted player will again re-claim that glory of the most sacred honor in American Sport--Career Home Runs.
All For The Good Of The Game.
You can count on that too.