Normally I like to preemptively thank recipients for reading my letters. It sets the tone, you know? This time, meh. You are obviously apathetic towards fans and, well, you’re rubber, I’m glue …
Like the rest of the sports-following world, I read about your new(?) steroids scandal just after it broke. Like most of the sports-following world, I couldn’t care less. However, unlike most of the sports-following world, I still care about baseball. At least I think I do.
Normally when I hear about a baseball related scandal I feel like one of the two iconic scenes in American History X—if you’re not familiar, Google at your own risk. Normally I’m pissed or hurt. This time around I’m more like Waiting For Godot. This time I’m just standing around waiting for something more, not sure what to think.
Normally when your steroids cases break I blast the rap-metal classic “Break Stuff”—you know, really get the rage out. This time around I put on the Chicago classic “Does Anybody Know What Time It Is.” In fact, that’s the perfect song for right now. Does anybody know what time it is? Is it 2007—Mitchell Report, 2008—Congressional hearings/Rafeal Palmero finger wagging/Sammy Sosa forgetting English, or 2011 when Ryan Braun’s urine spent the weekend at a delivery guy’s house? Like the song says, “Does anybody really care?”
A-Rod is an egomaniacal waste of talent? Ryan Braun is a lying fraud? What year is it again? Man, maybe if I close my eyes long enough the World Series will return to being played entirely in October.
Honestly, I don’t even bat an eye at steroids use anymore. I’m neither shocked nor saddened. You’ve numbed my emotions. For too long you put Band-Aids on a wound deserving of a tourniquet. You’ve been severely humbled and now plan to napalm the whole ordeal. Best of luck.
If there is any emotion left in me it’s that you just keep detracting from your product. My Braves took a no-hitter 7 2/3 innings recently against another small-market playoff contender. However, I had to wade through 3 pages of steroid filth to find actual game info. Bud, you must be buddies with Mark Emmert. During the season let’s try and focus on the good stuff, okay?
I’m waiting with bated breath on our now yearly debate over whether the Midseason Classic should determine home-field advantage in October. And I’m even more eager for the extra fallout from this case. Judging on your timing, September 30 sounds like a good date. Seriously, try and get that PR department working on positive spin—maybe a public rollout on your (overdue but severely awesome) Youtube channel. Red Herrings work well.
Normally I like to offer half-baked ideas in these letters. Say, imposing a salary cap on any player who has tested positive for steroids. But nah, you’ll figure it out. If not, it’s not like there will be an uproar.
Actually, I do have a piece of advice. Seal the record books. Restore all individual records to their state pre-1996. Bring back the game’s legendary numbers. They gave the game meaning. They were benchmarks for fans and players. They reminded us of past greatness. 755: glory; 762: ignominy. I’m sure Cal, Tony, Grif, Chippper, and the rest of the clean guys will understand. Start fresh.
The other night I read an article by Jay Jaffe that paid homage to the 10-cent beer riot in Cleveland 39 years ago. It was a fantastic reminder of how fun baseball once was. Drunken fans flashing, mooning, storming the field. Players and managers grabbing bats, running to right field to spring their surrounded teammate. Baseball is a quirky sport and even ugly spots like the Cleveland beer game seem funny in hindsight. The league now, with its gross mismanagement of the sport’s most hallowed traditions, statistical valuations, has sapped the fun and left a numb vacuum.
After expelling all these thoughts I’ve realized that I still care about baseball. Just not the MLB or Players Association. They’ve really damaged America’s pastime. I’ll still watch, write about, and enjoy the game’s nuances. Hopefully the league tightens up, because right now it’s like watching land erode—a numbing decline where you know the end result, all while remembering past glories. Good luck, guys.
Jonathan M. Bass