I love baseball. I love the Atlanta Braves.
I love the smell of beer and peanuts. I love the electricity in the air of all the fans getting ready to cheer their team on to a win and the tension in the stands of a close game with a division rival. I love my trying to eat a hot dog and hoping the cameras don’t get me. I love the fact that I haven’t changed my profile picture on Facebook since opening day because we’re doing so well and I’m just that superstitious. I love that when my best friend gave me my Javy Lopez jersey, I didn’t wash it for two seasons because I didn’t want to wash the luck out of it. I love the fact that I am certain that Samantha and I kissing a plastic warthog on the nose helped us win the 1992 NLCS game against the Pirates.
Baseball is a “Daddy” thing for me. It’s something we always enjoyed together. He played softball and baseball for the church and the Roswell Rec for most of my growin’ up years. My brother played as a kid, and I played two seasons of softball myself (I was not good). Dad started taking us to games as soon as we were old enough to sit through the games and enjoy them. He is a Pittsburgh transplant (and will still pull for the Pirates over the Braves–BAH!) but roots for the home team when they’re on. I love to call him during the games to talk–especially if the Braves are playing the Pirates. That’s when the trash talk begins. I will never forget the 1992 NLCS game when Sid slid. I called my dad and all I said was “How ’bout them apples, Daddy?!” He retorted “You are not my child.” And he hung up. It was hysterical.
As a kid, I wanted to marry Reggie Jackson, had a crush on Tom Seaver, thought Eddie Murray was the bomb, was sad when I thought Bruce Benedict was being boo’ed (they were saying Bruuuuuce), thought George Brett needed a time-out, hated the Dodgers, and I was in complete and total awe when I met Joe Torre (then the coach of the Braves), Bob Horner, Dale Murphy, and Chief Noc-A-Homa (just to name a few) at a charity dinner when I was 9 or 10. I got their autographs on a baseball, and I still have it today.
The point of this is, these guys are heroes. They were my heros. I looked up to them. Hell, if you had asked my brother what he wanted to be when he grew up, he would look you in the eye and say “I gonna be Catfish Hunter when I grow up.” That’s just how it was. And they’re millions of other kids’ heros. If I found out even today that any one of my heros had cheated (and yes, using steroids is cheating), I would be devastated.
I believe that this latest steroid scandal is bigger than before because people are finally sick of it. Mark McGwire broke Roger Maris’ record for home runs in a single year (70), and it was a HUGE deal. He, Ken Griffey Jr, and Sammy Sosa were neck and neck vying for it. He later admitted to using steroids. He and Sosa both. Hey guess what? You didn’t break the record, McGwire. You cheated to get there. Maris never used any PEDs. Neither did Hank Aaron, Pete Rose (another story altogether), Ted Williams, Reggie Jackson, DiMaggio, Cy Young, Nolan Ryan, etc. People don’t want cheaters to break their heros’ records. They want someone who worked hard to do it and did it honestly.
Hey A-Rod, McGwire, Sosa, Clemens, Palmeiro, Braun, and the rest of you …these kids put you on a pedestal. They look up to you. They want to BE you when they grow up. You should behave like someone worthy of that status. You should also lose any records you made and be ineligible for the Hall of Fame. You’re nothing but cheaters. Take your drugs and go the hell home.
I love baseball. I love the game, and I love the players that play for love of the game.
I. Love. Baseball.