I'm pretty clear where I stand on baseball - far away. It's the only sport that's been improved by ESPN's commitment to the Holy Highlight Reel, because everything that is not a Web Gem or a Goliath-ic home run is boring as hell. More than any other sport its history is defined by cheating, gambling, racism, drugs, and the persistent popularity of chewing tobacco.
Which is all fine, by the way. It's a sport, not a religion, and these people - owners, players, what have you - have been trained that they are above the law, and as fans we'll continue to look the other way as they rape, pillage, embezzle and sometimes murder their way through polite society.
Let me be clear - I have no problem with this.
What I do have a problem with is people like Howard Bryant. Howard is shocked! that Sammy Sosa lied about using steroids. And he's furious at...someone. Obviously at Sosa, but not just for lying and cheating - you see, it's Sammy Sosa's (and others like him) fault that steroids ruined baseball. Because we should rely on some man-children who never finished high school to make sound moral judgments in the absence of clear guidance from any sort of rule book.
Baseball's problem - aside for being an excellent sleep aid for insomniacs, and a fantasy for overweight lefties who are convinced they could have been professional athletes - is not its players, who do everything possible to be great, including break the arbitrary and randomly enforced rules imposed by society and the game. The real issue is that people like Howard Bryant expect it to be different somehow than the way it's been for over 100 years.
What I enjoy most about Bryant's hissy fit is its hypocrisy. If you want, you can play along, using SNL's "Really?!? With Seth & Amy."
Really? Sports journalists are upset at being lied to? About steroid use in baseball? Really? How many wrote bestsellers about the home run race between Sosa and McGwire? How many saw their readership expand because of baseball's return to popularity. And really? Not a single journalist thought to ask why Brady Anderson hit 50 home runs after not being able to lift a big boy bat the year before?
And journalists? Really? Shouldn't we be blaming you for the steroid mess? Isn't there something about truth and facts being an important part of reporting, um, truth and facts?
So I'm blaming Howard Bryant for the steroid issue. It's just as convenient as blaming Sammy Sosa, and I bet Howard Bryant even went to college.
(Political correctness note - I'm not saying Sammy Sosa is stupid. I'm saying that he didn't attend a university, because he was drafted out of whatever the Dominican Republic equivalent is of high school. And I'm making no comment whatsoever on Sammy Sosa looking kinda dumb, with the gigantic ears, and the goofy smile.)