February 20, 2009

It's Over the Counter in the D.R.

I used to love baseball. My first ever sports memory is watching the 1986 World Series in the basement with my dad. Upstairs, my mom had a women's Bible study. As you might have heard, Bill Buckner let a ground ball go through his legs and the (freakin') Mets took the (my) Red Sox to a 7th Game. Where they (the freakin' (and no, I didn't use that language at my tender age) Mets) won. I stomped upstairs and informed my mom and the Bible study ladies that the Mets had won. They thought I was cute. I was just angry. At least, that's the way I remember it.

I had baseball cards, baseball hats, saw Royals and Rockies games, and eagerly awaited spring training and the start of the baseball season. Then I met Mr. Cool. Mr. Cool is not terribly fond of baseball, other than playing softball. He is a football man, tried and true and dyed in the wool. So, I started watching football. Like any sports-lovin' gal with a semi-addictive personality, I grew quite fond. I still draw the line at more than three games in a day, but I do like football. I found myself drifting farther and farther away from baseball.

Then, the steroid rumours turned into accusations and truths. My relationship with baseball was severed. Could I admit that I had rooted for Barry Bonds when he was a young Pittsburgh Pirate slugger? Could I admit that I had a letter published in our college newspaper defending the glory of the McGuire/Sosa home run chase? Could I admit to creasing my Jose Canseco rookie card out of an impassioned hatred? (Well, yes. I still have no problems with shredding that piece of cardboard.) Like so many other baseball fans, I feel betrayed.

Steroids leave you betrayed in a way that other sporting scandals don't. Sure, George Brett may have had pine tar on his bat, but so what? Tar on the bat and spit on the ball don't carry the same cheater's weight that illegal, body-altering drugs do. So now it's A-Rod. I never liked A-Rod. He was too showy, too overpaid, too craptastic in the playoffs. But he was good. Naturally good. Now we find it might be due to some substance that used to be over the counter in the Dominican Republic.

So, do I say farewell to baseball? Will I pick up the love only in occasional years when the Rockies make unbelievable playoff runs? Maybe. Am I hopelessly devoted to the pigskin? Good lord, no. March Madness is just around the corner. The one love that never fades for a girl who grew up on Wyoming 1-A basketball and Hoosiers is the game of basketball. I can hardly wait to fill in my bracket. And I won't take any performance-enhancing drugs before I do.


Papa Cool said...

Actually even before the famous Billy Bucks biff, in the summer of 86 you watched a complete game and gave me a report--I had watched 2 innings and left on another errand. On a current note, SI has a feature on Cole Hamels the World Series MVP, only 24 and how he deals with his off season fame and fortune. How does he? Well his wife is his guide--he has been married for over 2 years to Heide Strobel of Survivor Amazon fame. Remember Heidi and eventual winner Jenna stripping for peanut butter and Oreos? A perfect "help mate" for the semi famous.

The Coach said...

My response to the ever-present love/hate relationship with America's pastime comes from (quite possibly) the best piece of baseball fiction ever:

"The one constant through all the years has been baseball. As America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers, it's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again; baseball has marked the time. This field, this game is a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again..."

I think Kinsella was more prescient than even he thought; he, of course, means America's past is what the field reminds us of, but Baseball too could be pure and good again.