Baseball season has started. I like baseball. And, I beg your indulgence as I repost something I wrote last December.
I like baseball. A lot. It's really fun to watch. I'd play, except I'm not any good. But I like to watch. Hmmm. "I like to watch." What movie is that from? Oh, yeah. "Being There" with Peter Sellers. You remember that one. He plays Chance the Gardener who everyone thinks is smart but isn't. Anyway, he tells Shirley MacLaine that he "likes to watch." She takes it the wrong way and puts on a show. I remember that scene. Hang on a minute. Wait. Wait. Okay. Where was I?
Ah, yes. Baseball. I like baseball. In fact, this past year, I got season tickets to the local minor league team. First time I'd ever done that. It was great! Seats right behind home plate. They didn't want me to have those seats, but that's another topic for another day. Anyway, like I was saying, I like baseball. Or did I mention that already?
In fact, I'm writing a book that I'll never finish. It's about the '96 Columbus, Georgia, minor league team. No, not the 1996 RedStixx, of the South Atlantic League who finished 79-63. Of course, that's what you thought initially, but that's an understandable mistake. No, I'm talking about the 1896 Babies of the Southern League who finished at 34-63. Why? Simple. I can't find enough information about the 1885 Columbus Stars (49-47) to write a book on them. I could say more, but when all is said and done, it will come back to just that. So, I'll save that topic for another day. Or, may even finish the book. No, probably not. But, on the positive side, I'm coming up with all kinds of topics for the future. Stay tuned, sports fans.
Anyway, I like baseball. I remember watching (on TV) Hank Aaron hitting his 715th home run. We had Curt Gowdy on NBC on the TV in the living room, and Milo Hamilton and Ernie Johnson on Braves Radio in the kitchen. I was watching it on the radio, but the picture wasn't clear. So, I left the radio on and stepped into the living room where the TV was and watched it there. It was exciting! Knew history was going to be made. That was great. That's baseball. I like baseball. Did I mention that?
I remember when Pete Rose passed Ty Cobb to become the all-time hit leader. That was great. And watching the Big Red Machine play in the '70s. That was great! And the Braves owning the NL East (and, before that, the West). That IS great! I could go on and on about the milestones that have occurred in my lifetime. But I won't. Well, I might. Hmmm. No, I won't. But suffice it to say, I like baseball.
And, because I like baseball, something bothers me. During the last few months, there has been lots of news about Barry Bonds taking steroids the last few years. In some people's eyes, that taints his record of 73 homers in a season, and his chase of Hank Aaron's 755 career homers. Did I say "some people's eyes?" Well, "some people" includes me. They ought to ban him from baseball. Harsh, you say? So what? He took drugs to enhance his play. That's wrong.
And, if the "commissioner" had any balls, he'd do it. And, yes, a commissioner could do it. The first commissioner, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis (that's an AWESOME name) banned 8 players from the 1919 Chicago White Sox. But they conspired to fix games, you say. Hold on, bubby. They were acquitted. Forgot about that, didn't you? Yep, acquitted. As in, "not guilty." But they were banned anyway. Because, legal eagles, despite the ruling of the courts, what the guys did was wrong. You remember "wrong," don't you? As in "right" and "wrong." Well, it used to mean something. And what Bonds did was wrong.
Now, some have told me that Bonds "still has to hit the ball." I guess that means that if he couldn't hit the ball, he did wrong, but if he could hit the ball, it's okay? That's a load of crap. Wrong is wrong, and if the talent of the individual figures in, then Bonds is more guilty than a lesser player. I say ban him.
On the other hand, Bonds has reportedly said that he "didn't know" what the stuff he took was. Oh, well, then. He's not a cheater, he's a dumbass. And he's too stupid to play baseball. Ban him. For life. And take away his records. And make the Giants forfeit all the games in which Bonds played while under the influence. Harsh? Kenesaw Mountain Landis wouldn't think so. And, with a name like that, you can't argue with him. Plus, he's dead. He wouldn't hear a word you said.
Anyway, Bonds' record gets revoked. So, then Mark McGwire is the single-season home-run leader with 70 in 1998, right? Nope. Steroids, remember? But they weren't illegal, right? I don't care. It was wrong. Remember "wrong?" So, what to do about McGwire? Ban him for life. So what, you say, he's not playing. Well, neither is Pete Rose and he's banned for life. So I say ban McGwire. And take away his records. And make the Cardinals (and the A's) forfeit all the games in which McGwire played while under the influence.
So, then Sammy Sosa is the single-season home-run leader with 66 in 1998, right? Nope. He cheats, too. Not sure about drugs. At least, no evidence I'm aware of about drugs. Unless you count cork. But, you say, that was the bat he only used for batting practice. Sorry, bubby, but that doesn't cut it. The bat made it into the game. And, there's no good reason for having a corked bat, anyway. Oh, to hit the ball far during batting practice? Hello! It's batting practice. They're serving the ball up for you. You're going to hit the ball far anyway. Hell, I got hit in the back of the head during batting practice at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium one time. (Maybe that explains some things. Hmmm.) Anyway, that excuse doesn't fly. But, you say, the corked bat was in 2003 and all those home-runs were five years earlier? Well, something caused him to go from 36 HRs in 1997 to 66 in 1998. And back down to 35 in 2004. Sounds to me like 1998-2003 will be remembered as Sosa's "Cork Years." I say ban him. Well, maybe not. But take away his record. And make the Cubs forfeit ... no, never mind. But take away his record. Corky should pay the price.
Oh, by the way, Cubs fans don't like it when you call him "Corky." In 2003, during the Braves-Cubs playoff series, when Braves fans chanted "Cor-ky" during Sosa's at-bats, the Cubbies sitting near me were getting all upset. Heh-heh-heh. It was funny. To me, anyway. You had to be there, I guess.
Anyway, so then it's McGwire with 65 in 1999 ... no, wait, McGwire's a weasel. Drugs, remember. Okay, then, Sosa with 64 in 2001 ... no, wait, Sosa's a weasel. Cork. Which also disqualifies him for his 63 in 1999.
So, then Roger Maris is the single-season home-run leader with 61 in 1961? Yep. And that's the irony of the thing. In 1961, Commissioner Ford Frick (I used to drive a Ford Frick. Or maybe it was a frickin' Ford. I forget. Either way, he had as bad a name as "Happy" Chandler) decreed that there'd be an asterisk to indicate the 61 home-runs happened in a 162-game season, instead of 154 games, like Babe Ruth's 60 HR season. Bad decision, but at least Frick had balls (between 9 and 9-1/4 inch circumference, weighing between 5 and 5-1/4 ounces).
Anyway, Maris died before the asterisk was removed by Commissioner Fay Vincent. Hmph! Fay! I guess if you can't have an awesome name like "Kenesaw Mountain," you go the other way and hire a "Happy" or a "Fay" or someone named "Frick." On the other hand, they did hire a "Spike" as commissioner, which ain't too bad. Unless Spike Lee sues Commissioner Eckert's estate. Spike Lee will sue over his name. And other people's names with the same name as him. And TV channels.
Anyway, back to Maris and 61 homers. After all those years carrying the asterisk next to Maris' 61, baseball dropped it. Well, the time has come to put it back. Only this time, instead of saying "162-game season" it needs to say "honest home runs."