Summer is approaching, the sky is bluer, the days are longer and baseball is getting into full swing, no pun intended. This time is especially fun for kids who are lucky enough to still play the game we all love. It’s not a bad time for the desk jockey who waits for the clock to strike the eighth hour of the work day so he can bolt for the door, race home, throw a Kix-crusted (Yes, I made recipe for Kix. It’s kid-tested, mother-approved!) chicken breast on the grill, grab a cold one and throw his feet up before the first pitch.
Baseball was an interesting seductress this March. The World Baseball Classic made you at least check the box score a little more often than usual, even if you can’t tell me who won it. And the questions lingering for the budding superstars, the player movement, the injuries and tease of prospects-to-come all filled the air. It was beautiful time; a serene feeling that baseball rarely gets to feel because of controversies that generally surround the game. Then the Biogenesis Clinic came to light.
After the wear and tear of the Balco Scandal, the last thing any baseball fan wants to hear are the words “allegedly,” “suspension,” “trial” and “A-Rod.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but I just want to watch baseball, cheer for my team and wish that my team’s opponents have a Dumb & Dumber bathroom moment before each game that cause them to play like crap, pun intended. Instead, I have to hear about the potential repercussions: What does this mean for the small-town Brewers? How hard will the MLBPA fight? Is this the end of A-Rod’s career? Do you believe Gio Gonzalez was only given legal substances? Blah, blah, blah. My answer to that: I don’t care!
I’ve given this a ton of thought, because I am a believer in keeping integrity in sports. You may ask, “How do keep both the game clean and not have to hear about these accusations?”
The simple answer is you don’t. Daniel Tosh is one of my favorite people in the world. I could write a full article how I spent one baseball season broadcasting and a solid 30% of my conversation off air was a Tosh reference or quote. I’ll spare you the details of the 2010 Camden Riversharks season. However, Daniel Tosh made a few points, although embellished, that I think hold some water. Check it out here.
Now, tell me that didn’t make you at least think. Their job is to catch a ball. How insane is that? Only a select few get to achieve this dream and most of them, along with freakish natural gifts, work extremely hard to get there. So, if you want to destroy your body, do it. If you want to take a cortisone shot so you can’t feel your back for a four-game series, do it. If you want to sniff smelling salts until your eyeballs feel like they’re going to pop out of your head to get you “mentally prepared,” more power to you. And if you want to get bull testosterone or Toradol, I’ll give you directions to the nearest clinic. Just be honest with your sport’s governing body, your team and the fans.
We can make this like Amsterdam. We have PED shops, salacious doctors that will give you these injections or creams if you’re Gary Sheffield. It will be understood these guys are on something, and they’ll be tested once every three weeks. But in exchange for allowing players to use these enhancers, their numbers will never count towards their career total. This way, the baseball writing gods may still look down and rule with the iron fist.
Let me break it down like this, using my name as an example to protect the fine folks at Through The Fence Baseball. If Mike Viso wants to make it to The Show, he has to take the new drug “V” (sorry, True Blood marathon before this article). Viso must be tested every three weeks, and every time he tests positive for a substance that isn’t on the condoned list, he stays in the PED profile. If Viso is on that list for the entire 2013 season, none of those stats will be applied toward his career totals. So, if he never makes that list again and retires with 4,255 hits for his career, that’s where Viso’s numbers stand. It doesn’t matter that he was a September call-up and had two hits in that final week of the season. Pete Rose remains the “Hits King.” Ya get it?
I think this is a win for all. Guys who never could have made it, make it. They get those couple of paychecks. Admitted users, like Melky Cabrera, get those few years to earn $10 to $20 million. Guys like Barry Bonds won’t have the total numbers, but they will make for fun debates of “Well, from 1986 to 1995 he averaged 29 homers, 86 RBIs and 34 stolen bases. Not to mention, he earned three MVPs and five Gold Gloves. He’s gotta make the Hall of Fame.” Most importantly, guys like Derek Jeter will stand in Cooperstown with not a question next to their name except for “Where does he rank on the list of all-time greats?” For players who are truly driven by their love of the game, natural talents and desire to be great, this will be the ultimate honor for them.
I’m so sick and tired of wasting time, resources and clogging my brain with scenarios of where baseball’s top players are out of the game. They’re cheaters, people cheat and that’s how it goes. Now we have to have banal conversation about what a player put into his body. All players are on supplements, get over it. Some are legal and some are not. I would bet most aren’t good for you long-term, while it’s thought that it may cause kidney disease.
As I jump down from my soap box, I just want to ask, wouldn’t you rather argue about why you think Pablo Sandoval may be the best fat position players in the game versus if Barry Bonds took same brain and nerve tonic Ken Griffey Jr. did in the softball Simpsons episode? Whatever your thoughts, I leave you with one final piece of poignant commentary: Click if you dare.