Friday, January 11, 2013

I Do Have A Conservative Streak

(Editorial cartoon by Mike Luckovich and published 1/10/13 in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  Click on link to enlarge and then please return.)

OK, on some issues I'm a purist.  In this case it's baseball.  I am an unabashed, old-fashioned fan and have been for nearly sixty years.  As many of you know, I was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  I was at just the right age when the Boston Braves moved to Milwaukee.  I got to see Warren Spahn and Lou Burdette pitch.  I got to see Eddie Matthews and Red Schoendist play the infield.  I got to see Henry Aaron bat. I got to see the other teams' stars when they came to play, like that cranky s.o.b. Roy Campanella and that brilliant pitcher Harvey Haddix.

And, thanks to an older brother who for some unknown reason taught me about the game even though I used blackmail to get him to take me with him when he cut school and hitch-hiked to Milwaukee County Stadium after it opened, I learned about the important parts of baseball.  He explained the geometry of the park and of the game.  The abstract purity of the game appealed to me, even as a rookie.  At age ten I understood some pretty arcane rules, like the infield fly rule and the balk rule.  It all made enough sense to me that I learned how to play the game, although "hard ball" was pretty much closed to girls.  When I discovered that, I switched over to "girls" softball and got to be pretty good.  But I still followed the game the boys played because the rules were the same.

When the Milwaukee Braves broke my heart and moved to Atlanta, I switched team allegiances to the Los Angeles Dodgers (mainly because I was driving across country to relocate in Southern California and heard Vin Sculley call a game and I was enthralled).  I got to see an entire infield move up to the bigs:  Cey, Russell, Lopez, Garvey, managed by Tom Lasorda.  I watched as Fernando Valenzuela changed the face of baseball in Los Angeles and the status of Mexican Americans who came out to watch their countryman show that the game was for all of us.  The geometry was the same.

So, when I read the news that no one, including Mike Piazza (another of Lasorda's kids) made it into the Hall of Fame this year, I was pleased.  Clemens, Bonds, Sosa:  all of them took the short cut way.  They used drugs to replace the hard work that any sport requires.  There's some indication that Piazza may also have.  You know what?  Those divots couldn't carry Spahn and Aaron's cups, even with those steroid enhanced muscles.

About thirty years ago I went through an obsessive bout on the muscle-building tour.  I went to the gym four nights a week and lifted free weights.  I modified my diet to get rid of the excessive fat.  I walked around the neighborhood for at least 45 minutes each day.  And, after a couple of months, I saw the results:  even as a girl, I had muscles.  I could lift things (like a 25 pound bag of dog food) without assistance. I dropped a couple of clothes' sizes.  I felt terrific.  It was hard work, but I felt rewarded ... until I started reading about the pros who were using steroids to get the same and even better results.  Folks like Arnold Schwartzenegger.  Folks who believed that winning at any/all costs was more important than anything else.

That's not for me.

I think that's not for any of us.

And I think that we need to make that clear.



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