Thursday, February 12, 2009

*My Name is...*

It was like finding out that Santa Claus is fake—and so is Pam Anderson—on the same day. Bruce lip-synced his Super Bowl performance (I know, it wasn’t his choice, but still…) and Elvis was never really a king.
On February 9, Major League Baseball’s supposed savior, Alex Rodriguez, confirmed in an interview with ESPN’s Peter Gammons that Saturday’s Sports Illustrated report of him testing positive for two illegal performance enhancing drugs in 2003 was true. Say it ain’t so Alex.
Baseball’s golden boy isn’t looking so golden anymore (aside from the frosted tips adorning his hairline) and suddenly, neither is baseball. The steroid crucible that has plagued the MLB since the San Mateo Narcotics Task Force raided Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative’s (BALCO) facilities to find a potluck of performance enhancing drugs—steroids and growth hormones—has nearly destroyed the game’s credibility. Professional baseball players, formerly known as the key holders of “America’s great past time,” are nothing but cheaters and liars. How are Mark McGwire’s fabricated biceps any different than National Basketball Association referee Tim Donaghy’s propensity to gamble on games that he officiated? And why is it that while the NBA has made every possible attempt to rid its reputation of such corruption, Bud Selig and the MLB are content on “cleaning up baseball” with an asterisk? Did that make steroids disappear? Can we see some retribution, please?
In response to the MLB’s response, I have decided to use the asterisk in my own everyday encounters.
“Hey Schim, that chick you went home with last night had more facial hair than my truck driving uncle and we call him sideburns at family get-togethers.”
“That’s ok. I put an Asterisk on it this morning.”
“Mr. Schimmel, you’re fired. You can’t buy Jack Daniels for the CEO’s seventeen-year-old daughter.
“Can I get a pass on this one? I’ll use the asterisk.”
“Stephen! What are you doing? Take off my dress!”
“Mom, it’s not what it looks like. See- asterisk.”
How can anyone respect a league sustained entirely by the asterisk? Why even play the game if everything is a fake? It’s like watching the WWF. Personally, I’d just as soon open a Playboy.
I’m taking a stand here. I know I’m getting off topic, but if baseball can do it, so can I. But back to A-rod.
Yes, A-rod, the man whose power had formerly been justified by a picture perfect swing. The anti-asterisk, the Mr. Clean of baseball, is nothing more than a tiny star next to a name. The saddest thing is, he was one of the sports few remaining hopes. Now that his use of steroids is out in the open, they might as well change the name of the league to the *MLB.
I suppose, however, that keeping the asterisk next to every name does create jobs, and in this job market, we can’t take anything for granted—somebody’s gotta implement all those tiny dots into the system.
Still, making it the *MLB would help to avoid misunderstandings.
“Hi, my name is *Steve Schimmel. I touch kids.”
“You can’t say I didn’t warn you,” I’d add with a smile. “If I were you, I’d consider moving.”
At least then you wouldn’t have to go through the charade of deciding whether or not to trust me—or hire me as a sitter for the weekend.
All I’m saying is that the game of baseball, as we knew it for the past 20 years, was built entirely on false pretenses. How can anyone have any respect for the record book, baseball’s bible, when it’s filled with lies, cheaters and prostitution? Would anyone go to church on Sundays if it were suddenly discovered that Jesus had invisible water skis?
As much as I enjoyed the seemingly annual Yankee World Series appearances that I grew up with, I wish that we could somehow erase the last two decades of Major League Baseball. But we can’t. We have to live with it, the way Selig has. I’m not a conspiracy–theory kind of guy, but what was the one thing that saved baseball after the 1994 players strike? It was the long ball. McGwire and Sammy Sosa’s race for Roger Maris’ previous record of 61 home runs in1998 suddenly “juiced” the league, resurrecting it from the doldrums. Is it possible that Selig knowingly overlooked a few things for the sake of the sport? Who knows? Jose Canseco (not exactly the picture of integrity) has attested to that fact though.
The point of all this, in some roundabout way, is that with Rodriguez’s departure from cleanliness, so too comes the league’s dying hope. Basically, *-rod proved that even the game’s “purest” stars are not always what they seem. Derek Jeter, we need you. Please don’t follow suit.
Oh, by the way. You can’t really believe a thing that I have said here because I took steroids in 2001. Or perhaps more appropriately—every dictionary that I have ever read was stolen.
*Steve Schimmel