I think when it comes down to it, we all must confess that this off season has been rough. There’s been immense amounts of drama that has transpired from our favorite players being traded to the steroid saga… mostly the steroid saga. As fans, we do what we can to combat the tyranny of the man. Yet, due to the unsettling events that occurred this off season, I think there have been many people who have forgotten what baseball is about; not just what baseball is about but what it means to be a fan and what it means to love a game.
Recently I was involved in a conversation with someone who… well, I think, would have liked to believe that he knew something about baseball. We briefly touched on Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez and our conversation went something like this:
“There’s no way to keep Barry Bonds out of the Hall of Fame, one way or another, he’ll get in”
Okay, yes, I agreed with that. “Yeah…”
“And it can’t be cheating if you don’t get caught. And even though Alex Rodriguez was caught, he’ll still probably make it into the Hall of Fame.”
“You’re right, A-Rod probably will make it into the Hall of Fame, but that doesn’t mean Bonds didn’t cheat.”
“Oh, come on. He wasn’t doing anything that every other guy in baseball wasn’t already doing.”
“… What? Are you (explicit) kidding me? Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Alex Rodriguez, all those guys have chosen to give baseball a bad name. Sure, 104 guys tested positive, and sure, there may have been others out there, but their use of steroids doesn’t mean the entire major league or minor league was apart of something so atrocious as to be cheating the game that they’re supposed to live and love to play. The fact that you believe everyone was doing steroids is completely naive and just plain retarded of you.
(It was a statement of passion and I know, I probably shouldn’t have called him retarded.)
“Saying that everyone else was doing it just proves that you’re falling into the (explicit) belief of ‘guilty by association.’ There are players out there like Hank Aaron and Albert Pujols who have worked hard to give baseball the name that it deserves and your imbecelic accusation gives a bad name to fans as well.”
I certainly didn’t mean to say all that, but it shut him up, and as far as I could tell, we were still on good terms, but needless to say, I was livid and completely seethed the whole way home. Okay, that story aside.
So yesterday at 3:00, 30 Clubs in 30 Days was on, and I mean, it’s true, that show has a way of being on all the time, but it was never the club that I wanted to see. So finally, the Rockies would be on, but, no, I couldn’t watch it, I had to go face rejection from places that I was trying to get a job. The next time it was going to be on was at 2 in the morning. Okay, I thought, I’ll stay up to watch the Rockies. So, 7:24 rolled around and I was exhausted and ready to go to bed. However, at 7:24, Netherland and Puerto Rico were on TV and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to resist the call of baseball, so I stayed awake and watched.
It was a good thing too because then at 8 o’clock, there was a classic Rockies game on FSN. It was their game from April 4, 2005, the season opener. 12 of the 25 on the roster were making their major league debut. Yes, it was back in the days when Todd Helton wasn’t Todd “my goatee is better than Youklis'” Helton and when Matt Holliday had hair.
Oh, and if you’re wondering, 2 o’clock rolled around and Canada and Italy were still playing in the World Baseball Classic so no, I still didn’t get to see my team on 30 Clubs in 30 Days and unless I want to wake up at 5 or 6, I won’t see it until… I think Saturday.
Anyway, back to baseball, what’s difficult is that I can tell you the things I saw, home runs, good pitching, good defense, but I can’t tell you how it felt.
The way it feels to be in love with a game, and for every moment to just… captivate you. I mean, I didn’t really care about the Netherlands/ Puerto Rico game, but it completely enthralled me.
Baseball is considered the greatest game ever played. It has history, players we’ll never forget, trades we’ll always be mad about. Each pitch creates a new opportunity, each hit that leaves you on the edge of your seat that it might get out of the park. Everything about the game is phenomenal.
I’m on Facebook, and there are these stupid notes that go around that ask you questions about… things. They’re like those chain letters that people send around that get annoying. Anyway, I never fill them out, but as I’m reading them, I answer the questions they ask. One asks about your first love. The fact is… I never had a first love. I thought hockey but ultimately decided that was more of an infatuation than love. So I finally came to the conclusion that I do have a first love, and it’s baseball. I mean, I never dreamed of working with hockey, I never felt the way I do now about baseball.
For me, baseball is the love of my life and will have ups and downs, and can break my heart, but it’ll be what I always come back to. The feeling that you get when your favorite player hits a home run, the disappointment when your team falls short, the anger of a bad call. Everything that encompasses the game is my life.
What does it mean to be a fan? To love a game? In the hard times and the good, it’s something that you’ll always love. It’ll be what you come back to time and time again, it’ll break your heart, it could bring you to tears, but you’ll always come back.
This off season, a lot of people forgot that, including the commissioner himself. It’s unfortunate that events have led people to believe that there’s no good in baseball. That everyone is juicing that everyone’s a cheater and a liar. It’s left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth, everyone but those of us who know the truth. That baseball is still our American hero and for most of us, it’s still a love, maybe not a first love, maybe not the love of your life, but a love, and that’s what I believe baseball is about.