12.14.2007

AN EMPTY DAY FOR BASEBALL AND ME

I've been a baseball fan for as long as I can remember. The library near my house? I probably read every one of the 101 or so baseball books on the stacks, some more than ten times. I can rattle off obscure stats from even more obscure players from well before even my dad was born.

So the past year or so have been awkward for me, what with all the talk about steroids. I have largely been skeptical about all the accusations: the long ball is what sells nowadays; big contracts mean athletes have a lot more to gain from staying in shape well past what used to be the typical peak age for a player; aluminum bats convince college players to swing for the fences; pitchers throw harder in search of more K's. In other words, there were rational reasons for the inflation of player bodies and home run records.

The Mitchell Report is making me realize that for all the validity of those and other arguments, really why I bought all that is because I didn't want to think cheating was going on at such a wide-scale level. I didn't want the past ten or so years of my life to be a mirage when it came to cherished baseball-related memories. I didn't want to believe that baseball could be anything but the game I grew up loving for all of its purity, simplicity, and Americanness.

But the facts don't care what I want to think or believe. And so, faced with the reality that I can no longer explain away all of this evidence, I have to say that I feel quite empty. It's a sad day for baseball and me.
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