Thursday, March 17, 2005

Baseball is a Disgusting Joke

I've had just about enough of this. I used to really like baseball, after spending some time working for Beckett Publications, the authority in sports collectibles. They told me to spend the first two weeks reading the Baseball Encyclopedia, and as I did, something magical happened. I started to see the game as a century-long tapestry that, despite many changes in rules and equipment, measures men against a game as complex and hard to master as chess, and which requires physical gifts few have.

Steroid use has destroyed that tapestry. No longer can you read a players' stats and get a feel for how good a player he was, compared to his contemporaries and players of other eras. Steroids have made players who would not have otherwise done so the best at certain thing. Hank Aaron's lifetime home run record will fall to a guy who's not just a cheater and a liar, but an insufferable asshole as well. Barry Bonds shouldn't be allowed in the same record book as Aaron, and now he's going to be ranked above him, as far as the record book will know.

I remember talk at Beckett during the late 1980s about why so many home runs were being hit. Some said the ball was juiced, others said pitching just wasn't what it used to be. I genuinely don't remember anyone talking about steroids, not seriously. Most of the others were big-time sports fans and baseball lovers before they ever worked a day at Beckett, and are probably heartbroken by all this. I feel for them, even though I stopped watching baseball some time ago. It's a beautiful game. But until Major League Baseball gets serious about getting rid of steroids, it will be a disgusting joke. Shame on the lot of them.

And in particular, shame on Curt Schilling, who knows better than to laugh off Jose Canseco's book as the lies of a money-grubber. Not so long ago, Schilling was one of the players who would be honest about the steroid problem in baseball. Now he's protecting the bad guys.

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