Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Baseball, the Weather and Other Things Old Timers Love to Talk About

Are we done freaking out about A-Rod using steroids yet? Can we put away the nickname generator machine that cranked out A-Fraud and A-Roid? That thing has got more celebrity couple name mashing to do. If you didn’t believe that the baseball players of the past twenty years had found some sort of performance enhancing something to bulk up and improve their level of play, I think it’s sweet that you are such a dedicated baseball fan despite clearly being legally blind. Are the records tainted? Well, yes. But you knew that. You knew Barry Bonds hadn’t just found a new set of reps to do which miraculously caused him to double his muscle mass and enable him to hurl cars with his bare hands at reporters who dared ask him how he bulked up so quickly. Maybe you had suspicions but wanted to believe the best about a game you loved, and perhaps even played, as a child.

But as of February 2005, you had no reason to hold onto your hopes and illusions. Mind you, Jose Canseco can’t really write his way out of a paper bag as much as just ‘roid rage himself out of it. But there it was. He was taking steroids. The whole time. He was injecting them into teammates. No, they didn’t just work out really hard to gain, as Canseco did, 25 pounds of muscle mass over one off-season. Sure, you could think that Canseco is a no-good backstabber who sold his friends and teammates out for 15 more minutes of fame, a few more paychecks and a shot at a second date with Madonna. But you knew he was telling the truth. So why, four years later, is the A-Rod story even, well, a story at all? That’s what I don’t understand. There’s players being indicted. It’s clear that, prior to MLB’s testing and disciplining players for those banned substances, this was not just a few rogue guys who decided to cheat their way into the books. I’m willing to bet that the mentality amongst those players was that the substances were just part of the natural (albeit, completely synthetic hormone and chemical compound-based) evolution of the game. The stats for basketball sure have improved since they cut the bottom out of the peach basket and stopped bouncing soccer balls, right?

So that brings baseball fans to a crossroad. Do you accept that this sport which you see as being somehow more noble than others, is a professional sport in which athletes and the league have more at stake and more to gain than they did forty years ago? I’m actually asking that not as a rhetorical question but as a genuine curiosity. It’s obvious that the NBA, while putting up a good front, love them some poorly behaved, dunking and showboating superstars. I remember hearing that the year that Dirk won the MVP, his jersey was only something like the 16th best selling jersey in the league. The NFL makes no apologies. They want a show, they want explosions, they want drag queen cheerleaders, they want big lineman, they want to hear bones snap on tackles, they want a product tie-in with everything that will stand still (or in the case of Reebok-logo-sporting cameramen, be forced onto) long enough to slap a company’s name on it.

Which brings me to the baseball fans I know. A lot of them are purists. The older guys that I know who have loved baseball for over half a century are adamant that this taints the record books and the sport altogether. I can imagine watching genuinely hard working (and sometimes amphetamine-taking) players as a kid and thinking that they were superheroes only to see knuckleheads like Canseco inject themselves into those record books alongside your childhood heroes. Discounting, of course, that it’s widely assumed that far few players are actually drunk when they take the field these days too. But I guess I have never understood this pure, Pollyanna view of the sport of baseball. Maybe it’s the whole “Great American Pastime” thing. Maybe it’s an East Coast thing. I know I rag on baseball a lot and I actually do like the sport. If the Rangers show some promise this season, I will watch the games. I will be called a fair-weather fan and for good reason. I think I just don’t get the nobility that is inexplicably tied to baseball which seems to always come back to bite it in its needlemarked ass.

Now for a sharp right turn onto other topics my grandmother and I like to discuss….

The weather.

I’m officially a 70 year old Jewish widow from Brooklyn when it comes to weather. I used to love nothing more than a grey, rainy overcast day. Fog and cool air were my friends. But now, at the ripe old age of 28, I want sun and some warm weather constantly. Now, two important caveats to add to that: a) I don’t mean “August in Texas”/bake a chicken inside my car warm weather and b) I still like the occasional nice rainy, stormy day. In fact, I love storms. The more violent and potentially destructive, the better. But what I can’t stand is just soupy weather. Just low hanging clouds with no sun but no actual rain. I know, I am blogging about weather which means that I have officially become the online version of the conversation you try to excuse your way out of in the break room. But ever since the first vaguely cold day we had this winter (a mild winter, I might add), I have been ready for winter to be over. I want sun. I’ve been dying to lay out and go swimming for two months now. I want to go to the beach and let the sun take care of touching up my highlights, thereby also saving me money. I am sick of living in the meteorological kissing cousin of Belarus. Come on Mother Nature, you bitch! This is Texas. I am supposed to be sheltering myself from hail, tornadic activity and cloud to bathtub lightning one day then snowboarding the next day then floating on my pool raft later that same day. What’s this consistently cloudy and cool stuff? I didn’t ask to go back to London. Don’t bring that limey weather over here.

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