I’m on a trial separation with baseball.
Oh, I never planned on this to happen, seeing that it was my childhood love, the one sport I just fully loved to play any time, any place. We’ve had our spats – the 1994 strike, the repeated collapses by my beloved Mets – but we’ve always known our love could carry us through.
Now, though, the steroids era has chipped away at a once-solid foundation, and my love feels more beaten and bruised than anything. The people I grew up watching have almost all fallen by the way side, thanks to the egomaniacal quest for records and glory.
The latest mess from Alex Rodriguez has been discussed a(ro)d nauseum, so there’s not much else to say about it other than he has pushed me farther away from the game than I’ve ever been. He was the one true hope, the one to bring a little bit of pride back to the home run record, that most hallowed of sports marks.
Fans like me really do feel betrayed. Foolishly, we put our trust in a game and got burned. We put our faith in a player, and he let us down. There are, I’m sad to say, no heroes left in baseball.
Fortunately, we have memories. I can always picture Nolan Ryan striking out batters (oh, who am I kidding – I always picture him beating up a much younger Robin Ventura). I can think of Rickey Henderson running rampant on the basepaths.
I’m pretty sure the whiff of suspicion avoids them, but the truth is, you never really know. This led to Cory and I discussing which players from the recent years would bothers us the most to learn were on steroids. To be included, they had to be prominent in the 1990s (the start of this mess) on to today.
So, here is the If These Guys Are Revealed to be on Steroids, I’ll Cry Team:
1B: I voted for Don Mattingly, Cory for John Kruk (Both of us agreed that Albert Pujols would bother us, but we wouldn’t be all that surprised by the news)
2B: Ryne Sandberg
SS: Cal Ripken Jr.
3B: Wade Boggs
LF: Manny Ramirez
CF: Ken Griffey Jr.
RF: Tony Gwynn
C: Mike Piazza
P: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson
The sad truth of the matter is that as much as we blame the players, owners and Major League Baseball, fans (at least the casual fans who only like homeruns and lots of offense) have to accept some responsibility. Players bent, broke and reshaped the rules, all while most fans rooted them on, all too willing to stick their heads in the warning track dirt. We might not have fiddled while Rome burned, but we certainly sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
And right now, I don’t care if I ever go back.