It is part of our nature that we human beings like to be entertained. We tell tales, we embellish the tales, we re-enact the events that led to the tales, we watch people perform physical feats that we ourselves can’t do and we fantasize about doing all sorts of things that we actually can’t do.
Unfortunately, we then start to demand that the entertainers be more than they actually are, which is just people – we demand that they be the stereotypes that we have imagined that they are. Too many refer to these entertainers as “role-models” for the young. I can’t imagine what on earth “role” they are supposed to be modeling.
When on earth did baseball players suddenly become these supposed paragons of virtue? WHY on earth did we suddenly suppose that baseball players are these paragons of virtue? Or even insist that they pretend to be?
I suppose I’ve been thinking about this ever since the sports media (and, unfortunately, the politicians) started screaming endlessly about steroids in baseball and how it is “cheating” and destroying the Sacred Home Run Record, among other things. I’m not real too particularly upset about steroid use or the revelation that ballplayers will use any edge they can find to get ahead, to be the best, to get back on the field, to keep playing until they drop – really, I never expected anything else and I guess I’m more than a little surprised that so many others expect all these pure goody 2 shoes type characters.
Jeff Pearlman recently wrote a column in which he described his effort to obtain an interview with the now retired Tim Worrell – he described each event which transpires over several hours while he sits and waits for Worrell to talk to him for a few minutes – he describes how Worrell sits, looks at his nails, passes gas, scratches himself, etc – all in all making Worrell look like one of the Gas House Gorillas whose only attribute is his ability to throw a baseball 90 something MPH. He was expecting who, Albert Einstein? Bart Giamatti? David Nieporent?
Me, I don’t really want/need all this excessive microscopic examination of every aspect of a player’s life/personality. I remember once one of my mother’s friends told me how she went to a nudist colony when she was young and all she could think was that she wished people would just wear their clothes so she didn’t have to look at all the faults and flaws now so apparent on every single body.
Ballplayers are just people – just men, and like my mama always said – when it comes to men you gotta take the good with the bad. I live with men. It’s the truth. We all just people and I understand that you really DO gotta take the good with the bad. That doesn’t bother me, but I realize that it has been terribly depressing to me that the media keeps shoving all the (what they think/say is) bad in our faces and screaming about it, as if ballplayers, alone among men, should be “role models” – sin free, paragons. What is the point of continuously pointing out flaws, other than irritating the fans? Why bemoan the fact that ballplayers, who are just people, after all, aren’t paragons?
I keep thinking about the old childrens’ story about the Emperor Who Has No Clothes On. And I think that the problem is that the media wants to tell stories to us that portray ballplayers as “heroes” -as if hitting a ball, throwing a ball or catching a ball is somehow an act of heroism, and that those self same ballplayers are messing up their stories by proving that they are just humans who have skills that the writers don’t. The ballplayers are making the writers look foolish for believeing or even trying to get others to believe that ballplayers are somehow better or superhuman humans.
I guess it is the sportswriters who feel they are exposed as having no clothes. It’s interesting that the story about the Emperor never tells what the Emperor does to the Child after the People laugh at him. I would guess it wasn’t pretty. And the media are having a field day with the “cheaters” who have exposed themselves as being ordinary men, not saints.
Me, I guess I’ve always known that money talks and everything else walks. I always understood that men bought teams to make money. I always understood that they wanted to use the efforts of the players to make as much money as they could at their expense – literally. I’ve always understood that you follow the money. I understood perfectly that the public wanted to see a lot of home runs and a lot of strikeouts and that the owners figured that out right quick and built smaller ballparks, commissioned juiced baseballs and, shall we say, didn’t exactly try to stop the juicing of the players as well. I understood that the players, grown men, decided or didn’t decide to do whatever was necessary to hit more home runs or throw a baseball harder.
In life, you get what you pay for and you really do reap what you sew. But this whole thing reminds me of the old complaint about females being “golddiggers.” Look – if the only real way a woman can survive is to marry because she is banned from any profession or job that pays much more than minimum wage, then she has to go get herself a husband. And if she was lucky enough to even HAVE a choice of men, well, why be shocked SHOCKED if she got herself the best possible contract she could?
Last week, I was re-reading Leviticus in the Old Testament and even thought some of the rules are, shall we say, um, out of date, most of them say things like (roughly translated) – don’t have sex with your wife’s sister, your parents, your farm animals, little kids, don’t cheat people, don’t murder people, basically don’t be a douche. Things really haven’t changed real too much in the subsequent 6000 or so years, and to expect baseball players to somehow be an exception to the general rule of humanity is ridiculous.
Anyhow, this now out of the way, I am going to go back to my usually more cheerful self and understand that all this idiotic steroid stuff is all about the owners trying to get more money out of the players, all about the politicians trying to avoid the real issues in this country (as usual) and all about the media needing storylines. And me, I keep reminding myself that it is only (thankfully) 3 weeks until pitchers and catchers report…