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HISTORICAL QUOTE OF THE WEEK - "Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other." ABRAHAM LINCOLN

Sunday, April 16, 2006

BASEBALLS THIRD STRIKE - THE SUNDAY COMMENTARY

I very seldom drift from political news and commentary but this particular post though not directly dealing with politics in Washington does deal with a part of Americana and the politics of sports. Baseball was always known as America's past time. Everyone from Presidents to the common Joe who worked for hireling wages could relax at the ballpark or by the radio and in more recent times the television and enjoy his favorite team dook it out with their arch rival or another team from their division or league in the quest for the pennant and the ultimate prize in October, The World Series. The names throughout baseballs history are known to us from childhood almost as much as those heroes who shaped our nations history. Ruth, Gherig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Mays, Robinson, Ryan, Bench, Aaron and so many others that brought wide eyed delight to thousands of kids as they performed their feats of baseball magic on the field. As adults we would share that wide eyed delight reminding us of our childhood and even forgetting about the problems and daily grind at home as we gathered together with friends and family to celebrate Americas past time smell the leather of the glove, cheer with the crack of the bat and look with awe at the acrobatics in the field as a player would snag a ball in the infield to throw a runner out at first or the elegant acrobatics in the outfield as a ball was snagged from mid air before it went over the wall. Oh and when it would go over that wall, dads, sons, moms and daughters would all rise in unison to cheer the gladiator with the mighty bat as he rounded the bases for his four bagger and triumphantly crossed home plate. Now the quest for the magic number which so few have reached, the great sluggers who lead the history of baseball in home runs threatens to tarnish this past time forever. Baseballs first strike came from the greed that brought about the ridiculously high multi million dollar contracts that made a day at the ballpark cost more than a trip to the grocery store to feed the family for the month. The second strike came when the players complained about their salaries that most of us would love to have and went on strike ending the 1994 season before the , "Fall Classic, " was even decided. The third strike is taking place today. Baseball recovered from the first two strikes though losing it status as the national past time to football. This strike may bring damage that could tarnish baseball forever.

The third strike is steroids. Especially the controversy surrounding San Francisco Giants player Barry Bonds and his quest for baseballs ultimate prize for a hitter: the Home Run record. Those who have earned their way into this elite group of players are a Who's, Who of baseball. "Hammerin" Hank Aaron, The Babe, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, Reggie Jackson and Mickey Mantle. Barry Bonds is currently number three on that list and is threatening the second spot which belongs to one who many consider to be the greatest baseball player of all time George Herman, "Babe," Ruth. There are other players on the list whose home runs are in question because of steroids but Bonds has risen in the ranks to become one who now has the possibility of breaking the record and most certainly pass the Babe. I am a baseball purist and the thought of Bonds being in this elite group in the way that he is sickens me. When he passed his Godfather, Willie Mays at 660 he should have been on his knees begging forgiveness. To his credit, Bonds is a great player and without steroids would have been in the Hall of Fame with statistics that place him among the best to have ever played the game. This though was not good enough for him. His jealousy and arrogance brought about use of enhancements, though he denies the use, and now he threatens the record. His physical appearance and his statistics since 1999 show the truth despite his denials. Had he continued on the track he was on before steroids Bonds still would have been number four on the home run list with 593 with more games to play which in itself would have been a tremendous accomplishment.

How then will this be baseballs third strike ? Never again will baseball and its records seem the, "stuff dreams are made from." If one is allowed to cheat in order to achieve his goal then how can this sport be taken seriously again. Yes, there is cheating in the business and political world and the ramifications of both are far more serious than this baseball scandal. The difference is that baseball is a relaxation and enjoyment which is supposed to relieve us of the problems that we find in our work and our government. Baseball is supposed to make us forget the news headlines and just enjoy even for a brief moment getting away from our troubles. Now baseball thanks to Bonds and others, but he is the center of the controversy, IS the headline. Now when we view it on television the announcer brings up the controversy. When we enter a ball park and watch the ball fly over the fence our thoughts now question whether the hit was true talent or enhanced by a drug. We try to forget through baseball Washington scandals and now a former Senator is holding hearings to get to the bottom of the scandal. Personally I believe that Bonds should be suspended until the hearings are complete so as not to pass Ruth to leave the question of whether he earned the place in baseball history or enhanced it. I don't think that will happen because he is so close. As of this writing he stands at 708 only six behind the Bambinos 714. Will this end baseball ? No. Fans will still pay the price of admission and buy hot dogs and peanuts. Games will still be broadcast and the winner of the World Series will still get a parade in their honor, but baseball will never be the same. The awe we have had at the sheer talent of the players will always be in question and nothing will bring the joy and relaxation that it once did. Strike three, "yoooou're out!"

Ken Taylor

20 Comments:

Blogger Rob said...

It is sad that steroids are now such a part of baseball, but let's be honest. Baseball did not test for steroids before 2003, so who knows what guys were taking and when.

The Mark McGwire - Sammy Sosa home run race re-energized baseball after the strike, but both guys were likely on "the juice."

I have no doubt that if someone came up to Babe and said, "Take these pills, they will let you hit the ball further," he would have taken them. Babe had a reputation for all kinds of destructive behavior. I am not accusing him, but who really knows?

I think Baseball has been corrupt for a long time. But I still enjoy going out to games. If you really want to enjoy baseball in a more pure form, go out to single A or double A ball. The cost to go to a game - as well as enjoy a hot dog and a beer - is much more reasonable. Also, given that most of the guys will never make the Majors, there is more play for the love of the game.

12:23 AM, April 17, 2006  
Blogger MDConservative said...

Rob, we disagree again. I partially agree with you on the minors... but every now and then I go watch a little league game.

I know in some places the little league is looking like the majors. But if you find one in a niche you can catch true love of the game. Where else do you see someone jumping up and down with a smile on their face because they got a single? It is great.

I am sick of the arrogant jerks in the game these days. What ticks me off more than anything is the jackasses that hit a home run but just walk towards first base, if I saw them crossing the street I would run them over. The guy that hits the home run and starts at a full sprint, and even after seeing it go out continues to run, RUN, the bases. That guy is my hero.

10:51 AM, April 17, 2006  
Blogger MCeeP said...

First time here, but this struck a chord with me. I was never a huge sports guy myself, but I remember going to watch the Seattle Mariners play when i was a kid, and how much fun it was. But these days, most ALL professional sports completely sicken me.
The amount of money being paid to people for playing a game, and then listening to them COMPLAIN about it, just irks me to no end.
I agree about the minors though, the Las Vegas 51's are great :) That's real sport.

11:35 AM, April 17, 2006  
Blogger Rob said...

As long as people pay, capitalism will dictate high salaries.

By the way, I played high school football and steroid use was rampant - this was 20 years ago. I never touched the stuff, but a good number of players abused steroids. Many of those same guys played baseball in the spring. Add to this all if the irritating parents who want to live through their kids, and I don't see Little League or school sports as being completely pure. That is where our society is.

12:17 PM, April 17, 2006  
Blogger MDConservative said...

That is what I am saying. You have little leagues that are being turned into something they should not.

I remember the one I played in, and to this day it is very civil and all about the kids. I swing by every now and then. I guess it is like the majors. You come to an Orioles game and no one cares what you have on. Go to a Yankees game in NYC wearing an O's shirt... profanity and vile phrases will be sent your way. (Most likely a beer or two as well.)

6:36 PM, April 17, 2006  
Blogger The Liberal Lie The Conservative Truth said...

I grew up with the Giants and the Oakland A's during the days of Mays, McCovey, Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter and others in the 60's and early 70's. I earned money with a paper route and used most of it to go to the ballpark and loved baseball. Now I could care less about going to a major league park. We have a A team for the Braves in Myrtle Beach and this is the type of ball I grew up with. The talent is not par with the likes of Mays or others from that day but the joy of the game by the players and the fans is true baseball. Rob, I do disagree with your idea about Ruth and, "a pill." First he didnt't need it he set records that stood for decades with pure talent. Plus he loved the game. That was the story up until the 70's when salaries started getting ridiculous. Players made a good living and enjoyed , "playing, " baseball. Even Bonds was quoted recently as saying the last time he , "played, " baseball was college. Now its a business only to him and most in the game thus the tendency to cheat to get the business advantage.

Ken

7:13 PM, April 17, 2006  
Blogger Rob said...

You may be right about Babe's talent, and I am not accusing players from earlier eras of drug use. But, I certainly am also not willing to say that it did not go on because I simply don't know.

Much of Babe's career was during Prohibition, so by definition he used illegal drugs.

Babe's place in history is secure - he will always be considered an all-time great no matter who comes along.

4:23 AM, April 18, 2006  
Blogger MDConservative said...

Another problem comes from both the players and teams. Almost any player with a long career ends up playing for an uncountable number of teams.

I wish there were some players (with the owners help) out there willing to make ONE team their team. And if they don't make as much money as they could, so what? But it has become all about the money. And now most of these players don't live near the teams they play for. Clemens playing for Boston and NY...the whole time living in Texas.

As said this isn't a game anymore, there aren't teams. Just businesses.

12:05 PM, April 18, 2006  
Blogger Rob said...

Capitalism. You gotta love it. If I could make a couple of million more dollars going somewhere else, I wouldn't stick around for something as quaint as loyalty. There is no loyalty on the part of owners.

Today, most people see no respect and loyalty from their employers and move from job to job (either because they are fired or because they get a better offer). Why should baseball players/sports athletes be any different?

12:18 PM, April 18, 2006  
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Blogger MDConservative said...

In this situation they will. My general point is that I wish it was still a game not a business.

10:09 AM, April 22, 2006  
Blogger Rob said...

This is their livelihood and as long as people are willing to pay, they should get every dollar they can. That is the goal of capitalism - maximizing profit.

10:09 PM, April 22, 2006  
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