Archive for the ‘Baseball’ Category

Let’s talk baseball

To my regular readers. For a change, this post has nothing to do with IT, SOA, or anything about technology. If you’re not a baseball fan, you can skip the rest.

I had my iPod on shuffle, as I usually do, and a song came up from 1998. It was done by a local St. Louis DJ, Craig Cornett, and called “McGwire’s Home Run.” Essentially, it’s a series of audio clips from various home runs hit by Mark McGwire in 1998, the year he hit 70 home runs to break Roger Maris’ single season record, which was subsequently broken by Barry Bonds three years later.

I live in the St. Louis area, and there’s been no shortage of articles and opinions on Mark McGwire this year, as he is eligible for the hall of fame. Based on what I read, it’s pretty clear that he won’t get elected this year. This all stems from the steroid problems within Major League Baseball.

I’ve been a baseball fan for as long as I can remember, from getting free tickets to Chicago White Sox games for getting good grades while growing up continuing all the way through the excitement of seeing my hometown Cardinals win the World Series this year. While winning the World Series this year was exciting (especially since my 4.5 year old son happened to wake up from sleeping during the ninth inning and I let him watch it with me, although I think he was still asleep), the most excitement I can ever remember in a baseball game was the night McGwire hit #62. Baseball was still struggling to come back from the strike years, and the drama of the Sammy Sosa-Mark McGwire home run chase brought baseball back into limelight. I listen to the soundclips of the late, great Jack Buck, his son Joe Buck, Mike Shannon, Joe Morgan, and Jon Miller and I still get chills. I can remember sitting with my wife watching the game. Just a few days earlier, we were fortunate enough to be at Busch Stadium and see him blast #60 off of the glass facade of the Stadium Club restaurant. The eruption of the crowd when #62 just barely made it over the wall still stirs emotions in me.

Now, hall of fame qualifications are not made with a single swing of the bat. Just as with any statistic, it’s not the statistic, but the combination of the statistic and the era in which it was done. There will be a day when many, many players will have hit 500 home runs, so I can’t say whether that achievement is enough to put Mark McGwire in the hall of fame. What I can say, however, is that Mark McGwire made baseball enjoyable for this fan. He’s always conducted himself with class, and I have more disdain for Congress for wasting my tax dollars on inquiries into a privately run professional sports league when they should have been getting something useful done instead of grandstanding. I feel bad for any person that was subpoenaed for that effort. They were placed in a situation that they didn’t deserve to be in, under a level of public scrutiny that was uncalled. Yes, professional athletes are celebrities, and must live with their lives under a microscope, but this wasn’t the paparazzi, this was the U.S. Congress. We’ll never know whether Mark McGwire took steroids or not. Personally, I don’t think Mark McGwire was “juiced” when he hit 70 home runs. He had already been under so much scrutiny in the years prior to 1998, it would have been very unlikely. Did steroid use occur earlier in his career prior to the scrutiny he faced? Who knows. Frankly, I don’t care. Unlike Barry Bonds, he carried himself with class and humility in everything he did as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. Whether or not Mark gets into the hall of fame, his 62nd home run of 1998 will always be in my personal hall of fame of baseball moments.


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