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…. What the hell is going on here?

The constant hand-wringing and “woe is baseball’s” over Rafael Palmeiro’s failed drug test is driving me nuts. Driving with my Dad, who picked me up at JFK yesterday morning, I had the misfortune of listening to ESPN’s Mike & Mike show on 1050 AM. Let me just say that I have hardly heard a more impressively uninformed and idiotic bunch of bullshit in my whole life.

Listen, as David Pinto pointed out so eloquently yesterday, you cannot erase, alter or expunge the baseball record books:

…. What, by the way, are we erasing the statistics from? Does Palmeiro not get an Encyclopedia entry? Are they deducted from the Texas Rangers stats? Do we take wins away from the Baltimore Orioles? Do the pitchers who faced him get their ERAs lowered? The stats are there. They happened. You can’t erase them. The best you can do is remove him from official lists of leaders. I wish people who said things like this actually thought about what it meant.

And even removing his name from the official list of the leaders is fraught with difficulties. There are no “official baseball lists” of anything. Baseball doesn’t manage its statictical records, many organizations, authors and sources do; and as anyone who knows anything about baseball history at all knows, there are several versions of the facts available depending on which source you use.

Standing in a closet, yelling to myself, I will once again remind everyone that steroid use by anyone prior to 2002 was not against any baseball rules, and today, as I write this, amphetamine use is still not. Frank Robinson, Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, virtually any baseball “hero” you (or they, themselves) remember or imagine as being so noble, virtuous or perfect, were nothing more than men, flawed and complex; and virtually anyone playing the game of baseball throughout it’s long and hallowed history did in fact avail himself of every single possible edge he could get his hands on to excel, legal, risky or otherwise. To suggest otherwise is disingenuous at best, and dishonest and sanctimonious at worst.

Frank Robinson is obviously disappointed to find himself sliding down the career home run list. But to sit there and try to hold on to the fourth spot by declaring that the players who have passed him may or may not have used steroids is beyond absurd, not to mention sad.

….”I wish I had stayed fourth. It’s a nice ring to it. You’re up there with the elite. You’re up there with the top guys in baseball, but as you slip people have a tendency to ignore you or forget about you. It’s not a nice ring, 11th or 12th. We think of maybe top 10, but even in the home run category we’ve never thought about 10. It’s always basically top five because there was such a gap. Fourth. Fourth. Fourth. I kind of got used to that. And now fifth, it just sounds a little odd.”

Get over it, Mr. Robinson. You are a member of the Hall of Fame, one of the all-time greats, and you will always be remembered as such. If you continue your current nonsensical ranting, you will also be remembered as a idiotic, whining crybaby. Records are meant to be broken.

No one complained about the enormous difference in the offensive totals that the players in the 1930′s produced. Up until the offensive explosion of 1995, virtually all of the single-season offensive records came from that era. Bill James exposed the myth in The Historical Baseball Abstract; “Either on has to conclude that all of the greatest players in history played in the 1930′s, or some adjustment has to be made for the statistical records from that era. Ok, so now baseball has had two offensive era’s. It hasn’t only been because of the few players who used steroids. It’s been the baseball, the smaller ballparks, expansion, weight-training…. it’s been all of those things.

You cannot change what has happened. You cannot delete players, statistics, accomplishments, or records. Palmeiro, McGwire, Canseco, Camminitti, Bonds, Sosa, all of these players’ accomplishments have been recast under the spectre of cheating,regardless of the fact that only Palmeiro was actually cheating when, (or if) they did use whatever performance enhancing agents of any kind; and their legacies have been damaged as a result. History (and sanctimonious baseball writers) will never let us forget that they had the misfortune of playing during an era in which sense and sensibility were forgotten, and hyperbole and accusation were the norm.

It’s funny, while baseball players endure a never-ending litany of questions and investigations into whether they have cheated, the criminals running our government are apparently immune from any and all questions of propriety while they rob us blind. Anyone notice that while we are at war with one of the top oil producing countrues in the world, (a war that has made the weapons and war machinery industry very, very wealthy, by the way) gas prices have skyrocketed. Why is that? How come the company the Vice President used to work for, Haliburton, has been awarded something like a quarter of a billion dollars in non-competitive construction work in Irag? What about the exploitation of our natural resources, the disempowering of the EPA, corporate greed and criminal behavior?

Nobody seems to think these questions are all that important, especially in Congress; but everyone sure seem to think it’s important that Barry Bonds has big muscles.


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All commentary is the opinion of John J Perricone unless otherwise noted.
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