It’s My Fault (Kind Of)

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I would like to take responsibility for my actions, or in-actions, that contributed to the events that made necessary the report made today by former Senator George Mitchell.  His report detailing a history (not the history) of performance enhancing drug abuse in Major League Baseball sites many culpable parties, from Major League Baseball itself, to the players who took the drugs, to the union that protected them, to the club owners and executives.  However, he left out one party that does bear a share in the blame, and that is me.  As a baseball fan I turned a blind eye to the ever increasing physiques and home run distances for too long.  I was caught up in the excitement and grandeur of the summer of ’98, the summer that brought baseball back from the brink, four years after the tragic strike.  As I watched Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa one-up each other night after night with their towering drives and inhuman strength I ignored, consciously, the signs that pointed to something being amiss.  I even gave McGwire a pass when a bottle of andro was found in his locker.  It wasn’t a banned substance, after all.  Besides, this was just too much fun.

Even several years later when more players were hitting more home runs, I had my suspicions, but didn’t take my own intuition seriously.  I chalked up the power surge to the increased focus on weight training (which for most of its history baseball had largely ignored), improved sports medicine, creatine and the like, new, smaller ball parks and a strikezone that favored the batter.  Even in Barry Bonds’ first years in ginormity, I gave him the benefit of the doubt.  He was said to be an extremely disciplined and hard worker.  He could put on that much muscle, couldn’t he?  Besides, innocent until proven guilty.

And so I continued to show my support for Major League Baseball.  I gave it my money, through purchasing tickets and apparel, I gave it my time by watching ESPN and playing fantasy baseball, I gave it my heart by cheering like a kid for my Angels in the 2002 World Series (two players from that team were named in the report).

Would anything really have changed if I had acted differently?  No, it wouldn’t have.  But what if fans as a group had acted differently?  What if we had stayed away like after the strike year?  Would that have turned the pressure up on the commissioner, the GM’s and the union to act faster?  Maybe, maybe not.

Of the parties involved, the fans shoulder by far the least amount of responsibility, but that doesn’t make us babes in the woods.  We can react with shock and horror over the names on the list–which are just a fraction of the number of abusers–but we all knew, or at least had a pretty good idea, of who was on the juice.

 Its a sad day for baseball, but hopefully this will be a stake in the ground from which we can go forward.  Jeff Kent said, “Major League Baseball is trying to investigate the past so they can fix the future.”  As a fan, I implore baseball to finally take this problem seriously, to right the wrongs it can realistically fix (think more player suspensions than record book editing), implement an independent and exhaustive testing regimen, and get the game back to what it was when I was a kid.  When I didn’t wonder with every home run hit, “I wonder what he’s on?”

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5 thoughts on “It’s My Fault (Kind Of)

  1. Jeff

    But did you wonder if he corked his bat, or if th pitcher had scuffed the ball or forgot to throw a spitter. Perhaps his team had a man with binoculars in the bleachers who was stealing the catcher’s signals and so he knew what pitch was coming. My point is this, breaking the rules in order to gain a competitive edge is not a recent phenomena in baseball (or any professional sport for that matter). nor is breaking the law in order to do so. I think if we knew the number of all star and even HOF players from th 50’s and 60’s who used amphetamines to give them a boost and enhance their on field performance we would be very disappointed. Does this in any way excuse the current crop of players for their actions and choices? No. but if we as fans are to take the blame as well then we need to be taking it not just for what has taken place recently but for what has taken place for decades.

  2. I think the difference between the Steroid Era and other forms of cheating (cork, scuff, binoculars, etc.) is that it should’ve been obvious to us fans. You can’t look at a guy’s physique and tell he’s corking his bat. Players had been becoming noticeable larger and hitting noticeable more HR’s for several years. Sure weight training was now en vogue, but if we (or the GM’s, or the commissioner) had been honest with ourselves, we all had at least suspicions.

  3. I promised I post something, but I’ve sort of lost interest. If baseball wants to regulate itself. That’s fine. Lets stop pretending it matters to the country.

    When the Senate was having hearings on this, all I was thinking was “Was this what the Founding Fathers envisioned you doing with your time?! Who cares, what baseball players are doing? How does that affect the inter workings of government!?”

    Go juice up! It might add some interest in the sport again.

  4. Though congress did conduct hearings a couple years ago, the Mitchell Investigation was not a government operation. Senator Mitchell is no longer a Senator, so no public money, a reported somewhere between $20 and $40 million, was spent on it. MLB picked up the tab on that one.

    I can’t totally disagree with you about governments role in all of this, but I can’t completely agree with you either. Professional baseball is a billions of dollars a year business, and if there is malfesence (I’m sure that’s spelled wrong) going on it should be investigated. Also, a lot of this is inter-related with illegal clinics selling non-prescribed drugs. That sounds an awful lot like the regulation of interstate commerce to me, which is absolutely the federal governments business. It just so happens that a lot of professional athletes are the end users of said drugs. So, I agree with you to a point, but I also think, as much as the past 200 or so of evidence may contradict me , that the government is able to walk and chew gum at the same time.

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