Thursday, December 13, 2007
Marvin Benard: Destroyer Of Little Childrens' Dreams
All the times I watched you swing at pitches a foot over your head, all the times I saw you do a faceplant in the outfield as a routine fly ball fell in for a triple...all of this is tainted. That day you inexplicably beat the Dodgers with a game-winning home run...asterisk! All those time you glared at the umpire after he had the audacity to call a third strike on a pitch right down the middle...my dreams are dead! Baseball's innocence is lost, all because of you, you bastard.
All kidding aside, the names revealed in the George Mitchell report seem to be made up of three (none-too-surprising) groups:
1) The players who had already been implicated as users before, i.e. Barry Bonds and Jason Grimsley, to name a few.
2) The standard list of scrubs and hangers-on like Gary Bennent and Howie Clark.
3) A number of guys who suffered career-threatening injuries like Troy Glaus, suggesting that the temptation to use the junk is likely very hard to resist if there's a chance it'll make you heal faster.
Of all the excuses people make for players using steroids, this is one I can sort of sympathize with. Imagine you're a player and you've suffered a horrible injury just as you enter your prime. Well, you've most likely been playing since high school and don't have many job skills, so you're going to be desperate to get your career back on track and get that MLB pension. If you come across a drug or whatever that will give you a chance to speed up the recovery process and restore you to even three-quarters of the player you once were, you're probably going to think long and hard about it.
To paraphrase Inspector Highland in Patriot Games, while I don't condone the things you've done, I can't quite bring myself to condemn ya.
Mitchell's report at least did a decent job of spreading the blame around to both the players and MLB, and I also like the fact that he recommended not punishing those named in the report as a means of moving on. The problem is, as hard as they try, and as much as politicians wag their finger at Don Fehr, there will never be a perfect solution to the drug problem in baseball.
At least, not until people stop watching and stop coming to the games, and that just ain't gonna happen. As long as there are millions of dollars at stake, players are going to be looking to get more advanced shit that won't be detectable in any test. It's chaos theory. Darwin, E-ching. Life finds a way, or some shit like that.