Tonight the World Series champion Cardinals will square off with the New York Metropolitans in the opening game of the 2007 baseball season. As America’s Pastime cranks up again, I’m confronted by a series of thoughts, issues, ponderments and concerns.
1. Will this be the year that pharmacology kills the game for good? The current penalty structure should be enough to keep us safe from too many new revelations of steroid, HGH and horse tranquilizer-related cheating, but the shadow of past transgressions looms large. Gummit investigators are, apparently, now in possession of all back MLB testing records and unlike the league, have no real incentive to keep the results secret. How many players were juicing as Bud Selig and his traveling monkey show did nothing? And if the answer hits the papers, what impact will it have on public perception, attendance, game viewership and other revenue streams?
2. On a related note, how great will be the shame as Barry “The Juice” Bonds approaches and perhaps passes the legendary Hank Aaron’s homerun title? ESPN whored itself to the fake “chase” last year and I hope to hell they lost a brazilian dollars doing it. I hope anybody else who pretends that Barry’s numbers are real this year winds up in the poorhouse. And if I ever wind up as commish, he won’t even have an asterisk by his totals – I’ll just erase him completely. It’s a fucking disgrace that anybody would attach any credibility at all to what looks like one of the greatest cases of cheating in the history of a sport that’s famous for its scoundrels.
Here at the Pit, we’ll be ignoring him for all we’re worth. We encourage you to do the same. (And maybe we’ll get lucky – a season-opening 0-100 slump, epic abuse raining from the stands everwhere he goes, followed by a humiliating retirement announcement where sports reporters hurl overripe fruit at him…man, I’d pay to see that.)
3. Now that Jesus has proven that he won’t save the Rockies or Braves, what? You may have noted my Who Would Jesus Play For? piece last year. “Faith Days” at Turner Field and a Praise Jebus litmus test for employment anywhere in the Rockies organization. Braves pissed off some non-Jesus markets and missed the playoffs and the Rockies demonstrated, once and for all, that faith and talent are different things.
I hate that I have to root for my hometown team to finish last again, but when you go partisan you’re going to lose those you’re excluding. Same for the Braves, although I don’t have quite the venom there that I do for the Rox – they’re dumbasses, but the offense isn’t as egregious.
Here’s to 2007 being the year that sports execs everywhere realize that baseball is for all Americans, not just those who worship the right Jesus.
As Annie Savoy said in Bull Durham:
“I believe in the Church of Baseball. I’ve tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I’ve worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I heard that, I gave Jesus a chance. But it just didn’t work out between us. The Lord laid too much guilt on me. I prefer metaphysics to theology. You see, there’s no guilt in baseball, and it’s never boring…”
My favorite way to celebrate our game is by playing it, which I will be doing today – my team, the Denver Royals, open against the Badgers at 12:30 MDT. I’ll be patrolling center and hopefully not embarrassing the game too badly.
I’ll leave with you another bit of Annie Savoy’s wisdom before I go grab some pre-grame breakfast:
Walt Whitman once said, “I see great things in baseball. It’s our game, the American game. It will repair our losses and be a blessing to us.” You could look it up.