Thursday, December 13, 2007

Me, Baseball, and Cheaters

I grew up in one of those immigrant families that embraced baseball as their personal savior. It was such a uniquely American thing that to take it into your heart was almost a shortcut to becoming a real American. It was one of the rare things we did together as a family that didn't turn into a brawl over politics, relationships, or the lack of and type of religious observance. It was a sweet memory in a past filled with tears, pain, and disillusionment. Without it my childhood would have been absolutely unbearable instead of merely bad.

That's why I quit watching it at all a couple years ago when the talk of performance-enhancing drugs started to surface. I didn't want to reward cheating, I didn't want to turn away from the betrayal I felt over discovering the one pure thing of my life was a lie same as most of the rest of it. I didn't want my youthful escape from the misery to take its place alongside the lying, cheating politicians that had taken over the government. I didn't want my rare and few innocent moments of childhood to take a seat at the same table where the corrupt corporate whores fed.

I wanted baseball to remain pure, to be a shining example of what passion and talent and skill could accomplish if one was only determined enough and strong enough. Baseball was the American dream played out on a field where everyone had a chance to feature themselves in the starring role of saving the day. It was America as I wanted America to be. It was the pure moment in a world of lies.

But instead it became a game of who had the best doctor, who could find the most secretive substance that could escape detection, who became the best at fooling their own bodies into believing they were super, powerful machines. Baseball became a lie played by dishonest lying cheaters. It became everything most people once used it to escape from.

What the powers behind the players and even the players themselves failed to understand was that most of us would have been happy with less home runs, less superhuman plays, less miracle wins because none of that really mattered. We watched because it was fun. Because it was a game that was as much a social event as it was a sport. And because it was pure and simple and entertaining. We made players into heroes not only because of what they could do on the field, but because of the dreams they could awaken in us. The ones who led us to believe that we too could succeed as they had succeeded were the ones who became our heroes.

And that is what pisses me off the most about all this and why I quit watching baseball. Not only did the cheaters cheapen the whole sport, they also took away a whole new generation's ability to dream. For that alone they should have asterisks forever by their names as a symbol of the wrong they can never right so history will always remember them as the cheaters who destroyed the dream that baseball was for so many of us. It is the only fair punishment.

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