Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Play Ball Folks

Who remembers when it appeared that baseball was never going to survive another strike? The year was 1994 and the Major League Players Association decided to have the strike that ended the season, and for the first time since 1904 there was no World Series. Baseball unfortunately for those with short memories was just about over, because the fans were sick of all the crap that went along with being a baseball fan. Overpaid players, overly rich owners, and the feeling that baseball problems came down to millionaires arguing with billionaires over how much more money they can make off of the fans.

In 1995 when Major League Baseball finally started up again, the fans had all decided that the last act of war by the players and the owners needed to be answered. The attendance and the ratings of baseball were in the toilet. This lasted well into the next two seasons and probably would have stayed there if it weren’t for the magic of the long ball. In 1997 people were talking about a couple of players that were going to finally break Roger Maris’ long held record of 61 home runs in a season, which coincidentally happened in the 1961 season. That drought was enough to start putting butts back in the seats, despite the fact that Mark McGwire and Ken Griffey Jr., both got close, but never reached that magic number.

The 1998 season started with the McGwire and Griffey Jr. rumors getting a few more fans in the seats, but it was someone else that stole that stage, at least from Ken Griffey Jr. and even from Mark McGwire for most of the season, in the form of a Cubs outfielder named Sammy Sosa. He set fire to the scene and before the season was over he even set the home run record for a day or two, before Mark McGwire finally surpassed him and ended the season with the most home runs in a single season. Baseball fans had flocked to games in record numbers and it appeared that the sport was saved by these two players. Of course it brought about a new problem that we still hear everyone crying about today, steroids.

Yes the problem with baseball is that it wouldn’t be alive today without steroids. We can pretend that it is a horrible thing that nobody likes, but the fact of the matter is, that baseball wouldn’t be around today if it wasn’t for them. The magic of the 1998 season, the home run derby that every game became was all because of the juice folks. People like to think of Barry Bonds and the fact that he obviously juiced during his run to break McGwire’s home run record. We get all pissy when people bring up Roger Clemons since he obviously juiced, but what are we watching every day on the news now? You guessed it, Alex Rodriguez as he slowly knocks down every record there is. He was suspended a year for steroids, but again he is the darling of the league.

To be honest with you all, I could care less about steroids. I’ve never done them, and I never would, that is my choice. Athletes probably shouldn’t, but who am I to say? Actors and actresses get face lifts, football coaches get gastric bypass surgery, and yes athletes do steroids. I think for the money they get paid that they aren’t trying hard enough if they don’t pump the juice. How’s that for a horrible way to look at it? I’m sorry folks, but I am not a hypocrite, that year of 1998, when baseball was being saved by a couple of people pumping their bodies full of steroids, was a great year. I’m willing to give credit where credit is due.