Thursday, March 17, 2005

Baseball, steroids and congress = a tremendous waste of time

We have at least one war going on, multiple hostile nations on the brink of nuclear armament, and, depending on your political stance, a plethora of other shenanigans going on within our own government. We're running an insanely expensive war on drugs and pretty much losing hands down. Our educational system is in core meltdown, and we've got a laundry list of other massive social, economic and international problems longer than my arm and typed in 5 point font.

It's irritating enough that Michael Jackson's case is filling page after page of copy. When I heard E! was running daily re-enactments, I had planned to follow it here, but 1) it isn't funny, 2) I'm intentionally not following any of the trial.

What's really, really irritating is that today Congress actually spent time bothering to "investigate" the Major League Baseball steroid story. And even more irritating is the fact that it was THE BIG STORY of the week.

This is a problem which affects, what? Maybe a few hundred people? It's not costing anybody money, it's not killing anybody, and from what I can tell, it might actually be making baseball interesting for the first time since Roger Maris hung up his glove.

Are these guys using steroids? Are you KIDDING ME? Fifteen years ago we thought Reggie Jackson was a big guy for baseball. Now guys like Conseco look like they could tip over a Hyundai. You don't get built up like that from popping a few into the outfield during practice. And nobody ever thought Babe Ruth was slugging them over the wall thanks to his fine physique.

American sport is rife with roid freaks, and even if they AREN'T roid freaks, they're athletes who are paid millions of dollars to do nothing all day and pump their bodies until they look like 80's era Schwarzenegger. People watched football back when it was iron-man football and the players had to keep a day job to make ends meet. Roger Maris got where he got with good timing, practice and luck.

My point is this: It's only the athlete's sense of ego that drives them to feel that they shouldn't just get paid a king's wages, but that they should be able to overcome any minor limitations left to them with their tremendous physical acuity. It's not enough to play in MLB. You've got to be the most expensive guy on the field, too.

I guess the problem has been that the MLB basically wasn't going to do anything about steroid abuse among their own players, and the perception is that this is somehow influencing young people into also getting into steroids. Anyway, that's the connection I'm drawing as to why these guys are sitting up there testifying. Other than that, the logic of the whole thing sort of astounds me.

After all, it's never been suggested the MLB is providing the players with steroids. It's never been suggested that MLB did much more than organize the leagues. If, in fact, there is some evidence that MLB is somehow providing people with steroids, does anyone really believe that the commissioners are going to break down just because the government is making thems it down at a table? I'm not really clear about what, exactly, people are trying to accomplish. If Congress is really this interested in the steroid issue in pro sports (which would affect maybe 20, 000 people, I would guess?), then isn't it the job of Congress to pass laws or something? And occasionally be dicks to each other about judicial appointments? I forget.

This has nothing to do with concerns about the public health. After all, most kids aren't going to Saturday night parties and being handed a syringe of steroids. Nothing is going to come out of this other than a lot of ruined ball-players careers. Especially when the public is mostly just shrugging the whole thing off and doesn't really seem to care. But they sure seem to be willing to read about it. This is about famous people being naughty, just like that nutty Paris Hilton. So, sure, it gets loads of coverage.

And why? Because our National Pasttime isn't baseball, it's watching celebrities go down in flames.

We might feel bad that some kids in high school may have been more predisposed to suicide because of the mood swings attributed to steroids, but by the time you've finished saying "mood swings attributed to steroids may have", you've already lost 80% of your audience. We're infinitely more interested to see if Hulk look-alike Mark McGwire is going to flip out under Big Brother's unblinking gaze and start smashing furniture with steroid freak super strength.

It takes baseball all freaking season to rev up this much drama.

I'll go out on a limb and say this: I don't care if baseball players are all out there using steroids. Don't care.

If Congress is really concerned about companies providing their cash cows with performance ehnancing drugs, they might want to check out how the recording industry and film industry work sometime. Not to mention that the only reason I stay in my job is that the university keeps me knee deep in free coffee.

No comments: