Why are people so intent on changing or glamorizing the past?
I was thinking about this in view of all the hysteria about Roger Clemens and who did or did not use steroids over the past 30 something years and why that is horrible but Mickey, Willie and the Duke (and almost everyone else) using amphetamines is no biggie.
The answer, given by way too many baseball writers and talkers on sports radio, ex-baseball players and old guys, is that baseball was “pure” back in The Good Old Days. What on earth is PURE? How could any contest, played by young, aggressive males be PURE? And what on EARTH are “The Good Old Days?”
well, personally, I think it is every person’s idea of the Garden of Eden. Yeah, regardless of religious beliefs, I think that people have this vision of the Real, the Ideal, how Things Were before the Debbil come along and messed things up. It certainly is not based on any sort of reality.
For example, take us females – well, not THAT way. Mennnnnnn. I keep hearing how females today work SOOOOOO much harder and are under SOOOOOO much more stress. Say WHAT????? They gotta be smoking something to say that – comparing myself to both of my grandmothers: I actually had a high school to go to, I had access to medical care and medicines, I didn’t have to get married when I was 14 or 15, I didn’t have to spend my adult life pregnant because I can choose whether or not to get pregnant because my husband doesn’t have the right to rape and impregnate me against my wishes, I don’t have to watch my children die from the terrible diseases that go around every winter, I don’t spend sunup to sundown with not so much as a day off for my entire life washing clothes by hand, making all the clothes by hand, cooking 3 meals a day for at least a dozen people, I don’t worry that we are going to starve if there is bad weather and the crops die – and I could go on. We’re fairly poor, but I live like a queen compared to my female ancestors of all colors and races.
As for baseball – I’m not sure exactly where people got the idea that Back Then, ballplayers were just sweet little innocent boys who played For The Love Of The Game and who Played The Game As The Game Should Be Played and it certainly wasn’t for money. Sure there were your Lou Gehrig goody 2 shoes mama’s boys. But most of the guys were a heck of a lot more like Ty Cobb and Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth – not in talent, but in appetite for alcohol, fornicating and winning by whatever means they could. Somehow, the hidden ball trick, or holding a runner by his belt or throwing illegal spitballs, or Ellie Howard cutting the ball on his shin buckle before throwing it back to Whitey Ford, or all the boys popping illegal drugs before the game because hordes of wicked females had kidnapped them from their monks’ cells, forced alcohol down their unwilling throats then raped them all night making them too sick and tired to play, are all pushed aside.
(Note – as for me, I never bought into the picture of pure, unwilling, righteous, aggressive, vigorous, healthy, competitive young males being dragged off kicking and fighting, totally against their will by gangs of evil, vicious females intent on the destruction of the will, morals and sperm stores of these poor dear boys. Of course, I never bought into the picture of idyllic femalehood, in which females are pure, innocent, untouched by icky things like puberty or males, until they are 18 or 20 years old, then living the carefree life of ease while children magically appeared out of nowheres and took care of themselves while the household chores all did themselves and no one died or got sick or had troubles. So I’m a skeptic/realist and believe that people are people and always were…)
I’m not sure why so many sportswriters have these absurd fantasies about baseball players (as opposed to, say, football players or basketball players or golfers) but their obsession with unreality borders on not quite sane. I would say that any competitive person in any competitive event looks for whatever edge he/she can find. Or as Jim Bouton once explained – pitchers would use something that took ten years off their life if it gave them another 5 MPH on their fastball. Which sounds honest, and accurate, to me. Of course I know that some people go to the ridiculous extemes, like Rosie Ruiz, who didn’t even bother to run the marathon she (briefly) won, but those people quickly remove themselves from competition.
Anyway, I guess this is why I simply can’t seem to get myself all hot and bothered about baseball players (or maybe I should say ONLY baseball players named Barry Lamar Bonds and Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire) using steroids over the past 30 or so years, just as I can’t seem to get myself all hot and bothered by Mickey Mantle and his contemporaries using amphetamines, just as I can’t get myself all hot and bothered by Ty Cobb sliding in with spikes high, just as I can’t get hot and bothered by the 19th century players hiding another ball in the outfield grass or grabbing a runner by his belt. If you don’t like the way people do things, then change the rules and enforce them, don’t obsess that non-existant halcyon times were destroyed by men who want money (as if they didn’t want money and power Back Then) to play a child’s game.
But I’m not picking on sportswriters and old men and their faulty memories – really I’m not. Us females are just as bad. For some bizarre reason, most females really REALLY think that there really REALLY is this perfectly perfect in every way Prince Charming who will ride in and make their lives perfect too. Then of course, when they finally realize there is no such entity, they get angry, resentful and even bitter because they conveniently pretend that the phrase “for better or worse” in the marriage vows refers only to OTHER people. There never was any such perfect person and there is no such thing as a perfect life and there never was, ever.
But, I think baseball is foolishly idealized the way it is because it really is the game of life. And people seem to harbor this hope that life could be perfect, as it used to be, before the