President George W. Bush said this morning in a press conference in the Rose Garden in reaction to the Mitchell Report that this was an era which has “sullied Major League Baseball,” and that steroids “should not jump to any conclusions,” about their results.
The fact is that this Mitchell Report was an exhaustive, well thought, well researched overlay of what is going on in the sport right now and what has been going on for some years now. If you can’t draw any conclusions about this report, I don’t know from what you should be able to draw conclusions about.
Furthermore, it seems that this has turned into the nature of the beast. When you’ve got these newer players like Sammy Sosa or Todd Hundley who both peaked fast then faded away, it is no surprise that mid to late career players like Mark McGuire, Paul LoDuca, Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens, and others need to be able to step up to the plate, both literally and figuratively so that they could continue to compete.
But also, anyone who wonders about these “amazing numbers” people are putting up should also look to important ways that the game has changed. With ballparks getting smaller, seasons getting longer, and fans expecting things like the perfect game from their favorite pitcher and the home run from their favorite hitter, there is an increased pressure from all angles.
Baseball agents need to get their players performing to a level where they will be able to validate their enormous salaries, baseball managers need their players to perform at a level where their teams will win so that baseball owners don’t fire the managers. Also with such a stress on winning there is further stress on players from managers as everyone would like to keep their “core” together and not need to shuffle players around which is what undoubtedly would happen if their numbers sank.
Surely presidential candidates should be able to understand this. With Mitt Romney being slandered indirectly by Mike Huckabee for his Mormon religion and with Hillary Clinton having her people leak bad press about Barack Obama and his former, admitted drug use, it seems that politics has sunk down to a base level on par with what is going on in professional sports.
Finally, it’s entertainment. I’m always surprised when people are surprised when a professional wrestler or a boxer or an Olympic athlete’s heart blows up because they were on steroids. What is this purity with baseball? Did no one notice the skinny Barry Bonds from the 1980’s and the Barry Bonds of today?
While baseball is America’s pastime, politics seems to have become a distinctly American pastime with everyone rooting for their favorites and bemoaning their losers. But if we are ever going to elevate the discussion from this trash talking and other deplorable tactics then we should probably raise our game individually and not be so shocked when our heroes fall back into the same old traps.
We as fans understand the conclusions of the report; we also understand that the game has changed. Finding logic in the point of all this is what we all struggle for; in sports and in politics.