If you visit my blog regularly, you know that I am an avid baseball fan. I love the game. I love playing the game, I love watching the game on TV, I love watching the game in person. I've often said that there are few things on earth more pleasant than sitting at the ball park on a warm afternoon, watching a good game, eating a dirty water dog and drinking a $7.00 beer. What I really love about the game are the intricacies that happen thousands of times a game.
What I hate are the people involved with the game. All you have to do is look at Alex Rodriguez opting out of a $25M a year contract to get $27M a year. Now, he has since said that he is embarrassed by his behavior and that he's made a significant mistake - but I don't think he's giving the money back either.
Unless you've been living under a rock, than you are aware that the Mitchell Report was released last week. I've downloaded it, and have read some of it (it's over 400 pages). Additionally, I've listed to the several hours of press conferences from former Senator George Mitchell, the report author; Bud Selig, the Commissioner of baseball; and Donald Fehr, the President of the MLBPA (players union). My reaction, what a bunch of jerks.
The main issue of the report is that the players, baseball, the media, etc. are all complicit in the Steroid/Performance Enhancing Drug problem AND that the problem was widespread. My problem to this is that it doesn't tell us anything we don't know. Baseball has spent an estimated $60M on this report, and this is the result??? What a joke.
Then you have baseball, represented by Bud Selig. His reaction to the report is not personal ownership, but how this report is a step towards maintaining the "integrity of the game". My issue here is that baseball didn't seem to care about the integrity of the game when attendance was down in the 90's and everyone was talking about the ball being "juiced". I remember the conversations we had...more home runs were being hit because expansion diluted the quality of pitching and because manufacturing methods for the balls had changed (the ball was juiced). It seems, in retrospect, that the ball wasn't juiced, the players were. However, the result of this offensive outburst was fans and interest returning to the game that had been decimated by yet another work stoppage and players strike. The highlight of this interest was the Mark McGuire/Sammy Sosa chase of 61 home runs record. What a sham.
Then you have the players themselves (represented by the greasiest human being on the planet, Donald Fehr). His complaint in the report was that the union didn't have an opportunity to review the report prior to release. What he doesn't tell you is that the ONLY player who actually responded to a request for interview for the report was Jason Giambi, and the reason he did it was because he was being threatened with suspension if he didn't. It seems like Fehr was trying to position the players for the next collection bargaining session. What an ass.
Ultimately, I still love the game - I just hate the players even more. Imagine getting paid millions to play a game that I've paid a lot of money to play, myself. They should be thankful for the opportunity. However, it's those millions that help convince someone to cheat. I can almost understand a player cheating (taking Steroids) to make those millions. It's in that context that baseball's history needs to be taking into account. As long as there is winning and losing, there is cheating. Whether a spitball, corked bat, stolen signs, or a hypodermic full of testosterone, people will try to get an advantage.
Bob Costas has recently put it best...he stated that the record book should contain the provision stating that baseball records are very much continuous, but that they still need to be put into historical context; whether due to segregation, day/night games, expansion, or performance enhancement drugs, the game has always been changing and the records of the game need to be reviewed in light of these changes.
I'll keep rooting for the Mets, and keep looking for those players that exhibit true sportsmanship. Fortunately, there are still a few players out there.