Forgive? Never!

Our teachings on the principle of forgiveness leave us some room for improvisation.  We speculate about the nature of the unpardonable sin, and wonder, since we are commanded to forgive seventy times seven,  if we are justified in holding a grudge upon the 491st occurrence of the offense.  And sometimes we itch to settle a few scores, Old Testament style.  This week, I reached the limit of my ability to forgive, and I find myself wanting to call down plagues of frogs and lice and locusts and boils on the bozos responsible for dragging something precious through the mud.  I speak, of course, of the owners, player’s union, and commissioner in major league baseball.

This week the bloggernacle displayed it customary ability to focus on the unimportant and trifling.  We saw lots of posts and comments about boring dumb stuff like presidential elections and the role of religion in public life.  Snore.  The only Mitt that is of lasting significance is the one used to catch fastballs, and is worn by the man crouched behind home plate.  Fifty years from now, people will think Clinton, Edwards, and Obama is just another double play combination, like Tinker to Evers to Chance.  Huckabee sounds like a utility infielder who sits in the dugout between Oil Can Boyd and Catfish Hunter.  Romney might have a JD/MBA from Harvard, but when he gave a long droney speech about our national religion without mentioning baseball a single time, I have to wonder about his smarts.  And the best Mormon poem isn’t the one about swans.  It’s the epic that starts like this:

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day;
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

This week the Mitchell report disclosed that there is widespread cheating in baseball and that some of the best players are juicing. Although it is enough to make a grown man cry, it is not surprising, really, given the rumors that have circulated for years. And it is also not surprising that two members of the Steinbrenner Yankees starting rotation can be added to the list that already includes Sheffield and Giambi. But what do you expect from a man who started his career as a football coach?  The question is, where do we go from here?

The report takes a namby-pamby approach, hinting that it might be best to let bygones be bygones and to forgive and forget.  I, for one, have had enough of this everlasting mollycoddling of wrongdoers.  I lust in my heart after retribution.

Comments

  1. By the way, there are only 51 more days until spring training starts.

  2. How can you write a post that mentions baseball and not mention Brooks Robinson? I’m stunned at your lack of baseball etiquette.

  3. It’s particularly disgusting because the MLB purposefully looked the other way on this issue when McGuire, Sosa, and Bonds were having their record setting home run races.

    Retribution would be nice, but, alas, what would happen to baseball if you kicked out all who had cheated. They’d probably have to cut down the amount of teams.

  4. Who?, one does not allow the sacred name of Br—- Ro—— to pass one’s lips in the profane act of mentioning the Mitchell report.

    Also, I happen to know that Santa is going to bring me a biography of that other Robinson (Jackie). Lucky me!

    Jacob M, it is particularly annoying that so many of the best players did it. Fercryinoutloud, Bonds and Clemens were great without the juice. it is just so frustrating.

  5. Preach it, Brother Mark.

    Amen!!

  6. I played baseball through my childhood and adolescence; I coached baseball while I taught high school; I LOVE the game with Mark’s irrational passion. I haven’t watched a professional game, including the World Series, for two years – specifically because of the obvious, widespread unconcern among all parties about performance enhancing substances.

    Having said that, I was disgusted by Mitchell’s willingness to name some of the players listed in the report – based on the commentary I have heard by those who have read it. There simply is too much uncorroborated, anecdotal evidence provided by two people who had everything to gain by naming as many possible users as they could – and some of those listed are included because they allegedly “discussed” steroids or HGH with someone. It is reprehensible to include their names in a report like this one, especially since the problem is obviously much more widespread than those who were named.

    I’m disgusted by everyone involved – including Mitchell.

  7. Interesting point, Ray.

    However, I’m almost positive that most on that list deserve to be outed.

    However (again), I wonder what could really be done about it, accept have greater punishments for those who use it now. We saw how useless the congressional hearings were.

  8. (When we mention iconic ballplayers, It’s disgusting how Larry Doby has been ignored in recent years.)

    As one who gave “Casey at the Bat” a key role in my master’s thesis (for a computer science degree, no joke), I’m just disgusted.

    Jacob, I think the original congressional hearings put enough pressure on Selig that he had to authorize the Mitchell report. Plus, they gave us Sosa (“can’t speak English”), McGwire, and and Palmeiro.

    The thing I’m trying tell people is that this isn’t over. A-Rod will eventually get fingered. So will Pedro Martinez, and Papi, and Veritek, and all of the Red Sox. It’s not just the Yankees or the Rangers or whoever. It’s *everyone*.

    If there’s someone who deserves a medal in all this, it’s Jose Canseco, for being the first real whistleblower.

    Ray – I think Mitchell absolutely had to name names, once he started. If there was a failure on his part, it was taking the gig to begin with. Once he started — without subpoena power — he had to go this route. He should have been given subpoena power by the union and the league, and then he would have had more names, not less. If anything, now Mitchell’s given Congress, who does have subpoena power, the roadmap for going forward. If you’ve read the report, and I’ve read most of it by now — Radomski saved tons of evidence that he could use to protect himself one day. He’s probably shaved 15 years off his sentence through record-keeping.

    And it’s amazing how stupid the athletes are. Sending personal checks? Having packages sent to them at Dodger Stadium? What morons. If these were NBA players, they’d have gotten a posse member to act as the go-between, so that they would be in the clear.

    You want a real villian in this, it’s Don Fehr.

  9. queuno – Good point.

    But, if they were NBA players, they would have knifed the dealers if they talked. Oh, wait. That’s NFL. No matter where you look in sports . . .

  10. I, too, grew up loving the game and was a 9-year old Long Island punk with a Pitch-Back in my yard when Seaver & the beloved Miracle Mets took the Series.

    I don’t know if it’s because we expect deceit in our institutions more these days, but this ugly, new revelation doesn’t feel as devastating as, say, the 1919 Black Sox scandal was, and the game bounced back fine after that. I’m optimistic it will again.

  11. queuno, I didn’t say Mitchell shouldn’t have named names; I said – from what I’ve heard – that there are some names included only by innuendo and based on “conversations” about steroids. If that is true, those people should not have been named.

    Frankly, I agree that Mitchell should not have accepted the task – for every reason you listed, plus that he is employed by one of the teams, which automatically adds a lack of trust and credibility – even for someone of his stature. To name prominent Yankees and no prominent Red Sox just provides ammunition for those who don’t want to take him seriously.

  12. I heard a radio host yesterday play a tape of a fake radio show he created at age 15 (this was mid-1980s) — he would obsessively tape the radio coverage of a certain team, and then also tape the local talk shows, and he had — using multiple tape recorders — mixed it altogether to create his own retrospective of a uparticular team. It was incredibly moving (and HILARIOUS) to hear this, but also to think — people aren’t doing with the NBA, or NASCAR, or the NFL. You only see such incredible youthful devotion to baseball, or maybe to hockey, if you live in certain parts.

    I really hoped that the owners would have busted the union back in 1994. 1994 meant nothing if the union stayed in power.

    (I am the proud grandson, nephew, and son of labor. I’m also the proud grandson, nephew, and son-in-law of management. I can both appreciate and condemn labor. Fehr and the union are too much. They must be broken if we want meaningful change.)

  13. Opening Day is a holiday in our house. As kids, we didn’t even have to go to school- and we plan on carrying on the tradition.

    As Kristine said, Preach it Brother Mark!!

  14. I agree Mitchell should have just stayed away.

    By the way, it was interesting to hear the comments of a sportscaster here in North Texas, commenting on “Who the h*** is George Mitchell and who does he think he is? He’s some two-bit ex-politician who’s trying to make a name for himself with this, go down in immortality.” Good reminder of how myopic most sportscasters are.

    George Mitchell didn’t need this. He had enough of a reputation before it started. I just don’t understand why he needed to delve into it. But, there are few people who understands impossible, no-win situations like George Mitchell.

    But at the end of the day … are there any names that really surprise anyone? I mean, do you read any names and say, “Naaaah. I don’t believe that one.” Dykstra? He’s a poster-boy. Clemens? Rumors for a dozen years. Pettitte? Doesn’t fit the profile, but he and Clemens work out and share the same trainers. Juando? Come on – Texas fans joked about it while he was here. In fact, there are probably 10 names I’m shocked didn’t make it (Pudge is one of them).

    The main reason few Red Sox are named is because Mitchell couldn’t unearth (or couldn’t get to talk) their dealer.

  15. (If we’re going to start lobbying fastballs at owners, by the way, we need to start at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I’m just saying. Look at those names on that list, and read the Canseco book.)

  16. David T., I agree that baseball is bigger than this septic tank that is currently on display and that it will bounce back. But let’s remember, Shoeless Joe is banned forever from the hall of fame despite his lifetime batting average of .355, and he did it without HGH. Let’s leave these other people out, too.

    queuno, Clemens made over 18 million last year, or about a million per start. Based on 80 pitches per game, that works out to more than $12,000 per pitch. In that light, the concept of a union loses all meaning. I agree, Fehr is the greatest hurdle to overcome to implelent a meaningful testing policy.

  17. Agree with Mark on the HOF. If you let in these bozos, then you might as well put Pete Rose in as well.

    Clemens made $140K a year in 1985, by all reports. I want that union representing all put-upon IT workers everywhere…

  18. I’d be with you on the outrage, Brother Mark. But it’s hard to feel too much outrage when my team just picked up one of the best pitchers from the AL, for a package of prospects (pretty good ones) that I’m happy to part with.

    Webb and Haren gives Arizona the best 1-2 punch in the NL. (Though the Padres are a _very_ close second.)

    The last time Arizona’s pitching was this good, they won a title. Of course, they had a few bats then.

    Still, I find it hard to complain too much when my team has 2 of the top 6 pitchers in the game, based on 2007 ERA.

  19. How’s that track record of Oakland pitchers moving to the NL? (See Zito, B.)

  20. forgiveness is a divine trait. I am a baseball fan of many years. I think that if we have proof people are shooting up that the penalties should be severe. They are too lenient now. I’d give someone 1 pass on a positive drug test of a 3 month suspension, on the second positive test, a 1 season suspension, and on a third positive test a lifetime ban. Anyone caught with two positive tests in the same season, a lifetime ban.

    That little bit aside, this is a product of the “everybody’s doing it” syndrome that is one of the great lies of Satan. Lie a little, cheat a little, dig a pit for one’s neighbor… I am willing to forgive people who are honest about what happened who work with prosecutors in cleaning up this mess. Yes, I will forgive a rat. If the players can’t find the decency to be ashamed of their actions more than for just being caught, then I’d be willing to just kick them all out.

  21. Kaimi, your team has the top 2 pitchers in the game if you use the far superior stat WHIP. (I’m assuming your team is the Padres.)

  22. So here’s Pettitte admitting to it: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3156305

    I think that those whose names should appear should admit it openly, express regret, and throw themselves on the mercies of the American public. In 2 years, they’ll be forgiven. I think.

  23. Last Lemming says:

    If anybody is looking for a church angle on this one, it’s Wally Joyner (best known, perhaps, for his appearance in Singles Ward). No rumor or innuendo there. Joyner cooperated with the investigation and fessed up.

  24. Left Field says:

    best known, perhaps, for his appearance in Singles Ward

    Ouch.

    That’s a little harsh, isn’t it? Ok, maybe he didn’t have a hall-of-fame career. But he hit .289 with >200 home runs over 16 major league seasons with one all-star appearance. And he’s best known for a two-bit appearance in a two-bit movie?

    Ouch.

    My understanding is that he took a couple of doses before thinking better of it, and that he had already voluntarily confessed before the investigation.

  25. Best known for his appearance in Singles Ward?

    I was about to reprimand you for that comment, but then I’d have to admit that I was an Angels fan in those days. (Actually, coinciding with their recent Dodger players-turned-coaches rise to prominence, I’ve become a fan again.) I did grow up on that guy, so it kinda stinks to see him on the list, but if he cooperated, at least that’s a sign of repentance.

  26. Remember who is getting the brunt of the blame and who is making off with the brunt of the cash. The baseball players are being blamed. Meanwhile, the owners reaped a whirlwind of cash from all that cheating.

    A few weeks ago when Barry Bonds was being indicted, I saw a comment on CNN.com that said it best. “Barry is being used.” Baseball and the Feds both waited until AFTER Barry Bonds completed his quest to beat Hank Aaron’s record before they charged him with anything. Was it just convenient coincidence? When it comes to money, few things happen by coincidence.

    The owners are making off for the forest on foot with all the cash while the drivers (players) are stuck at the wagons surrounded by the cops.

  27. Great story on Joyner, queuno. Thank you for the link. If a man like Joyner could succumb temporarily (even if he quit because of the guilt), just think how easy it was for so many others. Doesn’t make it any less wrong, but that article just gave me an insight I hadn’t had before.

  28. Certainly the owners are to blame. If you’re going to make me pick sides between the owners and the players on labor issues, I’ll take the owners. But … it’s not like the George W. Bush was sitting there with a needle shooting up Palmeiro and Gonzalez. Steinbrenner wasn’t giving them pills. Did they look the other way? Yes. Did the economics of baseball contribute to this? Absolutely.

    Here’s an interview with George Mitchell outlining his process for attempting to contact the players named, and how the Players Association shot him down. He also discusses briefly how he received some independent verification of Radomski’s claims:

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/jon_wertheim/12/14/mitchell.interview/index.html?eref=T1

    Mitchell references the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of kids using steroids (I don’t know if that’s accurate or not), and probably a large chunk of them harbor fantasies of being professional athletes, but it’s safe to say that there are probably just a couple of hundred kids fantasizing about owning a sports team. Whose offenses are more egregious: The owners or the players? Certainly the players.

    Unfortunately, there’s no way for any of these players to reclaim their innocence, if they are indeed innocent. The entire sport has been tainted, but like Track and Field or Cycling. Denials of “I never tested positive” are hollow — Marion Jones claimed that for years and the finally admitted it, and in fact, you can’t even test for HGH.

    We the fans are equally guilty. I hate to bring up the name of St. Lance, but if you own a Livestrong bracelet, are you comfortable that you’re supporting someone who is innocent, despite the overwhelming probability that he’s not?

  29. (Sorry, my English is horrible tonight. Just came back from dinner with the family and DW and I had to resort to our mission languages to actually order and get service.)

  30. What kind of union tolerates labor practices that may damage their members’ health?

    The cheating is really secondary. People use performance enhancing technology, such as glasses or hearing aids, for example, all the time. The problem with doping is that it is dangerous. That’s why it is against the rules.

    One also has to blame the league for its hypocrisy. Actions speak louder than words. That applies especially to failure of enforcing rules.

  31. The Players Union decided not to participate because they are the public face of baseball. Barry Bonds is the public face of baseball. Roger Clemens is the public face of baseball. Baseball owners KNEW their players were juicing and were slow to act. Why? Because stadium seats were being filled.

    Who is more guilty? The juiced player, or the man who profits off the juiced player?

  32. Gee, and I thought from the title that this post was gonna be about Huckabee and his “innocent” question in the NYT magazine.

  33. Last Lemming says:

    Perhaps I was harsh on Joyner because after his rookie season I expected him to be the second coming of Harmon Killebrew. But I rarely heard of him after that.

    Can I at least use the Singles Ward line on Shaun Bradley?

  34. cj douglass says:

    I’m actually happy about the report. I want to see if the smug writers at ESPN (I’m looking at you Peter Gammons) will vote NO for a Clemens HOF induction as they plan to do with Bonds. Oh the fun we can have when hard-liners experience a conflict of interest!! I can see them squirming now!!

  35. I was hoping there’d be at least one “I wonder what business Congress has getting involved in this” post in the first day or so — this is BCC, isn’t it? Oh, well, I’ll do it.

    I think it’s sad. I wish we lived in a society where most audience members would stop supporting obviously corrupt (and dangerous) entertainment venues on moral grounds. But I’m not sure I’m prepared to accept a society that uses the government to try and achieve the same ends via subpoenas and jail terms, in its place. At least not without comment.

    Randomly: I’m not a big baseball fan. It makes for dull television, and the live atmosphere isn’t any better than football or basketball. It’s mostly a “fun to play but not to watch” game for me.

  36. I’m not sure that this report amounts to anything. Most of the players named are getting close to retirement- likely even sooner with the report, or were briefly in the bigs and didn’t last.

    While the report named 12 players from my hometown teamof Seattle, none of them were important or even players people would remember. Let’s look at the 116 win season and look at who played 2nd base. You know, career year, forearms the size of Popeye. Yeahhh…no juice there!

    Too little, too late. That in a nutshell is what the report will probably be remembered for.

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