An extremely pervasive cultural thing that will require a generation or two of self-reflection to refine what it means to “be a man”. It is not a gender thing because this definition of “manhood” isn’t present everywhere. Heck, even women here tell a guy to “be a man” which makes me want to scream “so being a woman means to be weak?”. “Being a man”/”being a woman” should both mean to be strong and responsible. “Machismo” is just false bravado because that man has nothing except his brawns.
A baseball season has a story. It has drama. It has failure. It has redemption. It has collapses and comebacks. April and September can feel an eternity apart. Players and teams can be unrecognizable at the beginning and at the end of those six months. Football is fun. Baseball is love. It is a game for the hopeless romantics. An individual game might not matter as much, but the entire season feels like a novel. It is not a date that comes once a week for four months. It is a love which is there with you every evening. You enjoy that date which comes once a week, but you appreciate the love which is present every day. You might take it out to the stadium once a month, maybe even less. But you check up on it every night or every morning. It is not three hours of fun on a weekend. It is something that goes on in the background every evening while you are doing something else at home. The hopes start building in February. You are excited about the beginning in April. By July you might feel its not going where you want it to go. Yet by September you are once again nervous and excited. And when October comes around, you think back to February and wonder how far you have come. By the end of it all, you are either dancing in front of the bars Second Avenue with friends and strangers, or you feel like your heart has been ripped out from your chest. The emotions and the energy you invested in it either results in a ticker-tape parade on Broadway, or you are drained and left in despair at the failure of it all. But with time you wait for the coldness of winter to pass away, and with the sound of the ball hitting the glove you know that warm weather and sunny days aren’t far away. And then, everyday for eight months you fall in love all over again.
The day baseball Hall of Fame results are announced is supposed to be the most auspicious day in American sports. Today was also the day where a select group of voters would judge the greatest living hitter and pitcher, both of whom who have been accused of using steroids. I don’t think a Hall of Fame that is missing Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens is representative of baseball. I have come a long way in the last 10 years as far as using steroids are concerned. The only way to solve this problem is divide the Hall of Fame into each era – dead ball era, segregation era, steroids era etc etc. 10 years back I did not think Bonds belonged in the Hall. But now I do. He hit against pitchers and fielders who used steroids. Clemens pitched against hitters who used steroids. In an institution where testing did not exist, it is not fair to presume someone is guilty or innocence. Mike Piazza belongs in the Hall and he never tested positive for steroids, but the voters “believe” he did. Yes this is a big screw up and everyone is to be blamed – owners, players, and fans. As Barry said it perfectly – I am just an entertainer. They come to see home runs and be entertained. As far as cheating is concerned, what is the difference between steroids and Derek Jeter faking being hit in the batter’s box? If steroids are performance enhancers, is getting platelet-rich plasma therapy in Germany a performance enhancement? Hundreds used steroids, but they did not hit or pitch anywhere close to Bonds or Clemens. Can adderall or caffeine be called a performance-enhancer? For some people it would. I get the other side, without steroids Barry Bonds would not have hit 73 home runs or 762 home runs. I think he got about 100 extra home runs in his career because of steroids. If he was the only one, or one of a tiny group of players, I would have been against it. But he was not and there is no empirical way to find out who used and who didn’t. If Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens do not get into the Hall of Fame, then anyone who played between 1985 and 2005 should not get into the Hall either. Personally, I think both will be in the Hall before the end of this decade, and so will Pete Rose.
”In India we have extreme opinions. We praise someone very highly, and in a few games we start pulling the same individual down. I always say it’s important to be in the middle path. That’s how you will enjoy the sport.” – MSD
We take pleasure in turning boys into “Gods”, boys who are still teenagers. And at the first sight of failure we take even greater pleasure in bringing down those “false Gods”. We question their character, their attitude, and their reason to keep doing the only thing they have known since they were 3 years old. Any individual who has played team sports knows that individual performances do not even register in the brain if the team is losing. There is no greater joy than being part of a winning team. In the same calendar year we go from calling for someone to be given the nation’s highest civilian honor to calling them selfish individuals who play for records and not for winning. We never learned equanimity.