Friday, December 14, 2007

A Christmas Break: Baseball's Bad News

This just in...anyone who ever did anything notable in baseball took steroids at some point in their career.

I know I promised that I would stick to Christmas topics for the month of December, but the release of the Mitchell Report on steroid use in Major League Baseball is just too big to ignore.

Roger Clemens? Andy Pettitte? Gary Sheffield? Miguel Tejada? If not for the context, Mitchell's list of names sounds more like an enviable fantasy baseball lineup or a list of future Hall of Famers, not a rogues gallery of cheaters who shoved needles into their butts for a little extra muscle mass with a side of back acne.

My interests immediately gravitated to any ex-Cubs who were in the report. Most of them were extremely horrible when they were on the Cubs (Todd Hundley, Jerry Hairston Jr., Kent Mercker), which immediately begs the question of "Why would you take steroids when you suck anyway?" but also provides the pathetic-yet-undeniable answer: "Because I suck and I was desperate to stay in the Majors."

The one ex-Cub that I was truly saddened to see on the list was Glenallen Hill, the big-swinging pinch hitter who served two separate tours of duty with the Cubs in the 1990s. He was one of those electric players who would come up with the game on the line in the bottom of the ninth and hit a towering home run to seal the victory. I don't know the actual stats and I wouldn't want to ruin the mystique by looking them up, but I remember seeing him do it several times and I always felt a child-like confidence that he could win the game with one swing whenever we needed him to. Even though he denies ever taking the human growth hormone that he ordered, his physical appearance was Hagridesque--"too big to be allowed"--and I thought of him as mythically strong. There's really no way he wasn't on some kind of juice. Same goes for Clemens. If your name has been mentioned in this context, there is probably enough evidence to soil your reputation and call your stats into question.

I just wish it wasn't all these players and all these stats. Where does baseball go from here? I guess the Black Sox don't look so bad anymore. After all, that was just one World Series, not an entire era of baseball.

What a shame.

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