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01 August 2007

Baseball And The Surreal

That is what being a baseball fan is like these days - surreal. The all-time homerun record is about to be broken, and yet many of us are anticipating Barry Bonds' pending achievement like we would a colon exam, because we know that a certain percentage (maybe 1/7 or 1/8?) of his homers were steroid-facilitated. Even though the guy is a jerk, I would still be excited to see this historical moment (I was too young to remember Hank Aaron breaking the mark in 1974) if his attitude was the only problem, because I might never get the chance to witness such a thing again. As it is, I change the channel every time the man comes to bat. I don't want to see it, and that is depressing. (One ray of hope: I heard a scouting-expert say that the prototype player coming through the minors these days looks more like a player from 1980 than from 2000, meaning much skinnier.)

From an early age, baseball has been in my veins. It was the first sport I ever played, the first sport I was ever consumed with, the first I collected cards for and memorized stats for. Other than Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, the highlights of Saturday summer t.v. for me were the syndicated This Week In Baseball (hosted by the great Mel Allen), and the saturday afternoon Game of the Week on NBC. My brother and I got some kind of super baseball card/memento set for Christmas one year, and included was a record album that narrated the great moments in baseball history, played snippets of some of the great calls. We listened to it over and over and over, and Bobby Thompson's homerun, DiMaggio's hit streak, Willie Mays' catch, and Hank Aaron's 715th were forever seared into our brains. When I started fifth grade, George Brett (still my favorite all-time player) was going for .400, and every morning my first question to my Dad was, "What did Brett do last night?"

So baseball is forever with me, and I can't give up my love for it. I object to those pundits who say, "Obviously baseball fans don't care about steroids. Attendance is at record highs. They just want to see home runs and drink their beer." Perhaps so (though I find this reeking of elitist holier-than-thou-ism), but there are plenty of us who love the game and don't want to leave it. We just want it cleaned up.

2 comments:

Dragon Management said...

I remember the exact moment I fell out of love with baseball. I had just returned from an international summer trip in 1994. I hadn't seen a US newspaper for 2 months, and I was shocked to learn that baseball was about to go on strike during one of the best seasons on record. My favorite player, Frank Thomas, was heading toward the Triple Crown, and a lot of pitchers were having great years. I picked up the first Sports Illustrated I could get my hands on, and I read it cover-to-cover on the connecting flight home. Nothing but depressing.

Since then, I haven't cared much for the game.

School Master P said...

Yeah, that was a tough period for me too. It probably took me five or six years after that to find myself really jacked again about watching baseball on t.v.

Really, enough has happened in baseball over the last fifteen years to really have run me off for good, but I always seem willing to come back to it. Battered fan syndrome, perhaps?