Saturday, March 26, 2005

For the Love of the Game

I love the game of baseball. I've played it all my life. Played organized until my sophomore year in High School, then switched to Track for talent reasons. I organized sandlot games in college. I've been kicked off many fields for jumping fences on locked fields just to play a little ball.

When I was younger, I was a pretty good player. I was a bit undersized, sometimes I got stuck in right field, just me and the dandilions, getting smacked in the head by horseflies in southern Louisiana. But I always gave my best, and i could lay down a mean bunt.

I played in coach pitch league, and I wasn't bad. Then I had to make the transition from coach pitch to kid pitch. I was terrified. I refused to play. I decided to sit it out. My father would have nothing of it. He wouldn't have a quitter for a son, so he forced me, against all my efforts, to get out there and play. I did, i ended up making the all star team with i think 5 hits the entire season. I hustled and was a team player. I could steal bases. (cept for that time i got picked off for looking at the girls in the stands.) But I thank God my pop made me play, because i wouldn't be the same person today.

A lot of you know about my love for baseball, and i'm sure you're all wondering how i'm taking this whole steroid controversy. Well, let me start out by saying that I have my own glove, my own ball, and my own bat. Theres a zillion softball leagues here in chicago, which i plan on joining. I've got friends to go play catch with. Theres hundreds of minor league games to go watch. I think i'll be fine.

I don't believe everyone is juiced. I believe A LOT are. I also believe baseball isn't the only sport that has players taking steroids. I also believe that steroids can't help you hit a ball. Case in point, Jeremy Giambi, admitting that he's taken steroids, is a lifetime .263 hitter, 52 HRs in 7 years, and is currently looking for work.

Sometimes controversy and scandal is necessary for change. Its called precedents. We live and we learn. Its a big reason why we learn History in school. The Civil War, even though it was not started over slavery (ok, i want no comments regarding this comment. later post), became a big controversy and we're better off because of it. Its a natural progression. The betterment of the human race. We screw up, we fix the problem, and we move on.

Baseball is trying to fix it, and we've got a little ways to go, but we're trying. Theres no reason to have a 5 strike policy. Its ludicris. Ok so i can cheat and get caught 5 times before i'm REALLY punished for it. That was made abundantly clear during the hearings.

I also believe Jose Canseco is a bum and a sell-out, looking for only 1 Ken Caminiti is the man. He admitted he had made a mistake, shed light on the problem, yet never mentioned names. He never profited from ratting on his own players. He never broke the code of teammates, yet Baseball is changing for the better because of him.

Baseball is a game for the common man. Thats the way it began. Even the undersized kid in right field whos playing with the dandilions gets a chance at the plate. Its something that doesn't happen in football and basketball. EVERYONE gets a shot. EVERYONE has a role. You don't have to be a spectacular athlete to play. I mean for cryin out loud, 70% of major league players are out of shape. They're just like you and me. But thats just it. Just like you and me. We all make mistakes. We all screw up. We all have become the victim of greediness and selfishness. And sometimes it takes the embarrassment of these mistakes becoming public. But in the end we all pick up the pieces, put our lives back together, learn from our mistakes, and move on.



kentbrantly said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
kentbrantly said...

well said. i have to admit that i'm a bit surprised by the maturity of this post. but i guess i shouldn't be, cause, i mean, you are not a man to joke around when it comes to baseball. and as one who never played organized ball growing up, let me just say thanks for sharing your love of the game.

kenny said...

Yet another thing we have in common JJ. Wish I had gotten more time to talk in person when you were living here in NYC. I played 1st and 3rd until High School, than had to choose between baseball and soccer. I chose soccer - almost regret that too, but don't only because I got to keep playing soccer in college and know that I wasn't talented enough to play college-level baseball - though I can hit a ball far - just ask Isbell.

J-Wild said...

Amen to "picking up the pieces and moving on." There is no better thing than learning from our mistakes and not repeating them.

In keeping with my "persona" on this blog, I do have to disagree. I think this goes well beyond a minor mistake. I think it's apparent that Steriod use in Baseball is a systemic problem and supported by both the players and owners.

I don't need to get into all the stats (Sosa 3 years=60 home runs), Barry 175lbs to 225lbs at age 35? To me most of those players would have been superstars without steriods (maybe not history makers), but definately above everyone else. It's the guys below them. It's the guy who make $2mil this year but if he can squeeze out 15 more HR's then he can make $4mil the next year. That mentality filters all the way down to the HS and Little League teams.

It's great that you could recognize your physical limitations in becoming a pro-player and just started to love the game for the sake of it. But there are also plenty of Jeremy and J-Wild's out there who suffer from little man's disease and will do what ever it takes to get a little more zip on the ball, or pop off the bat. Needless to say there are probably more than a few coaches and parents who willingly look the other way for success on the field.

It just doesn't seem like baseball cares. I think that steroids hurts baseball more than gambling does, and gambling equals a life-time ban. I would like there to be some real honor when it comes to this issue. Steroids should not be a part of the game because it brings shame to the game, it's disingenuous, dishonors the past, and hurts the future (ie the kids). And purists, like yourself, should demand nothing less, the integrity of your sport depends on it.

By the way Kenny can crush the ball I've seen it!

kenny said...

w0000! Ego Boost!

The Future said...

Yo Kenny- what's the secret to the long ball??

I can hit pretty long, but not nearly as long as I'd like.

Chris Ewing said...

Hey marketing major please be careful when you speak about history. i can't wait for this upcoming cause of the Civil War post. Until then, I share your frustration with baseball and professional sports in general. It's time that professional sports be looked at like any other job. If you under the influence of illegal substances(weed or steriods), then like any other job you need to be fired. These players are not somehow above the rules of society.

kenny said...

The secret to the long ball... steroids, of course!
Ha. It all really comes down to timing. It's physics. If you swing your bat at the right speed, hit the right ball, going the right speed in the right place on the bat than you're going to hit a really long, straight ball. If any of those variables is off - even slightly - than it gets much less predictable.

The Future said...

I see. I was always a good hitter- Jeremy's seen a thing or two from me- but I've never really been able to keep my eye on the ball. I always got around that by good timing, but when pitchers started throwing sinkers and curves it really got to me (the ball wasn't where it was supposed to be).

And, yes Jeremy, I agree that the civil war was not about slavery- at first.

kenny said...

Yeah, forgot that one: keep your eye on the ball. =)