A Duck in Sheep's Clothing
I was warned early on by my wife, Justine, that if I wanted people to read this thing, Rule #1 should be to suppress my love of sports, lest I alienate a good percentage of my readers. And she was right, of course, so I added it to the other Rules, like no politics, no religion, etc. Except that occasionally I break those rules, and when I do I incur the wrath of Jimmy and Duane, and today I will probably incur...well, not exactly Justine's wrath, more like a lackluster response, a dip in hits, and the dip in self-esteem that comes with it.
Because today we are going to talk about...baseball!
And cheating and steroids, and heroes, and optimism vs. pessimism, and whether it's a lifestyle choice or whether like Lady Gaga, you're born that way (yes, that was a shameless modern pop music reference to show the kids out there that I am hip).
While scanning Yahoo's headlines today, I came across this article http://tinyurl.com/4y68lou, which had a headline that read something like "Uncovering the mystery of how Jose Bautista went from mediocre to one of the game's most feared hitters." Which just made me laugh. I mean, who isn't going to read that these days and not immediately go, "Um, let me guess."
The article is actually pretty good. I mean, the author may've been given this assignment, and turned in a single-word first draft to his editor (steroids), and they may've laughed. 'Cause that joke, like the B Sharps, is funny for about five seconds. But then the guy has a job to do.
The writer, Jeff Passan, talks about Bautista's meticulous mind and love of mathematics, and how this attention to detail and a late-career leg lift translated into 50+ home runs at age 30 (and given that Bautista hails from Santa Domingo, we might be able to add a couple years, since birth records down there aren't an exact science. Passan discusses steroids, because he has to, but it's mostly obligatory references, as in, Now, some people are going to think "steroids" but... And, again, Passan has to. This is Yahoo, not Bleacher Report. And maybe advanced algebra and a new stance really is the reason Bautista went from 13 home runs in 2009 to 54 in 2010. Just like it was possible when the Mitchell Report came out, authored by a member of the Red Sox Board of Directors, that no current Boston players were on that list. But that turned out to be a lie (*and to my Red Sox friends, I promise that will be the only dig at your team in this post. Well, that and at least one snide comment about how David Ortiz is clearly juicing again. But that will be it, promise), and it's hard to believe Passan's assertions that Bautista's accomplishments are legitimate.
When cops are investigating a murder, they start with the most obvious. One spouse is killed, they're checking the alibi of the other. It might turn out that the husband's murder was related to a long-distance ponzi scheme involving midget mimes and the occult, but before the cops get there, they're asking Mrs. Brown why she's holding the bloody knife and stands to inherit millions.
Fair or not, you can't suck your whole career like Jose Bautista has and then all of a sudden start hitting the hell out of the ball without the obvious questions being asked.
Or in other words, if it looks like a duck...
What got me, though, was reading the comments at the end of the article, how many people vehemently defending Bautista's numbers as legit. They might be Toronto Blue Jay fans, I suppose. I guess they exist, but I think it's more about disposition, the wide-eyed and optimistic versus the jaded and pessimistic. There are several comments along the lines of "Get over it, people. He's been tested!" (Much like, "Get over it, people, a senator would never lie!" Sorry.)
For the sake of full disclosure, I should always state right here that I couldn't care less about whether a player is on steroids, HGH, or anything else. I find the sanctimonious ranting of sports' writers pretty funny. Athletes will do--as they have been doing--just about anything to get an edge. I don't see much difference between taking amphetamines and slapping on the clear, and the pundits like Mike Lupica who get up on the soapbox (literally in his case, since he's like 5'2") to wax about honesty and integrity and sanctity of the game are clowns (like Babe Ruth's numbers weren't slightly skewed not having to face some of the best athletes in the country).
I guess it just comes do to my personal beliefs and the two things I've learned about people in my vast 40 years of experience: 1.) they're self serving, and 2.) they lie.
We can leave it there.
Oh, and I almost forgot. David Ortiz is definitely back on the juice.