The biggest crime of baseball's steroids scandal is that we have forgotten about the greatness of our national pastime, buried in a blizzard of scandalous headlines and allegations.
We've all heard and read a lot by now about the blemish on baseball: the widespread steroids scandal that dominates the sport's headlines instead of individual and team heroics.
It's a shame.
The Los Angeles Dodgers go an astounding 42-8? Yawn. The lowly Kansas City Royals play like champs for a month — so what? But when disgraced slugger Alex Rodriguez, who was suspended for 211 games but continues to play as he appeals his case, hires a new lawyer, all hell breaks loose in the media.
The biggest crime of the steroids scandal is that it detracts so much from the majesty of the national pastime, America's greatest sport.
In a normal year, baseball fans would be enthusiastically comparing Dodger rookie phenom Yasiel Puig, a Cuban emigre, to Willie Mays in terms of sheer excitement and potential.
Since Puig arrived at Chavez Ravine, the Dodgers have been virtually unbeatable. But Puig's story hasn't quite gotten the attention it deserves because of you-know-what's role in the news.
On Sunday night, the age old rivals, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, played at Boston's hallowed Fenway Park, with the first-place Red Sox seeking to put the hammer down on the Yankees and their faltering pitching ace C.C. Sabathia, who is having an uncharacteristically mediocre season.
But the game naturally couldn't escape the steroids scandal, either. Boston pitcher Ryan Dempster plunked Rodriguez in the second inning. possibly showing his anger that Rodriguez or his legal team — he now seems to have more attorneys on his payroll than President Richard Nixon did at the height of the Watergate scandal — had allegedly ratted on current baseball players for their steroids use.
Rodrriguez promptly swatted a majestic home run to dead centerfield in the sixth inning, as if to say A-ha! Take that, Red Sox.(Or, as Roger Angell of the New Yorker once wrote, in baseball's grandest palindrome, "Not So Boston.")
All of this would have been stirring on-the-field drama except for the shadow hanging over the game and the sport.
Can't we get back to enjoying appreciating baseball for its simple grandeur, as in a long home run or a clutch strike out or a play at the plate to decide a game in the ninth inning?
They still say, "Play ball," you know.
Jon Friedman writes the Media Matrix blog for Indiewire.com. He is also the author of "Forget About Today: Bob Dylan's Genius for (Re)Invention, Shunning the Naysayers, and Creating a Personal Revolution." Read more reports from Jon Friedman — Click Here Now.
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