Sunday, April 02, 2006

The National Pastime

"The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder."

-Alfred Hitchcock

Did I mention that I was once a movie star? LOL. Well, actually, I was a movie extra, in the 1994, Danny Glover film, "Angels In The Outfield." I was featured in the crowd scenes, waving and cheering on the team. If you put your DVD or Video on still, then search frame by frame, I can be seen in the front row of the crowd, and the back row...and three seats to the left. LOL. You have to remember, we filmed all day, 11 hours to be exact, just to get about 20 seconds of actual material for the movie. Whew! That was some hard work. LOL. It was a lot of fun however, and we got to meet Danny Glover and we got a nifty T-Shirt and sports bottle that was available only to the crew. It was a long day, but it was tons of fun. Somewhere, I have more photos of my day as a movie extra, I might share them if I can locate them.

I am thinking a lot these days about the game of Baseball. There was a time when, I would rather go to an A's game, then just about any other outing. Most of my courtship with Alan was spent at the Oakland coliseum, or so it was called at the time, sitting in the bleacher seats, taking photos of the game Alan and I both loved. We even collected baseball cards for a while. It was a good time for us, and the game. The "Bash Brothers," Jose Canseco & Mark McGwire were hot, and the Oakland A's in general was experiencing a great time. There were rumors here and there about a rivalry between the two, but when one was at the game, it wasn't apparent. I remember thinking at the time, that even if all the rumors were true, every one of them, there was so much to enjoy about the game, and the other players such as Terry Steinbach and Dennis Eckersley, that I still just enjoyed the game. It was baseball after all.

Sigh. So much has changed since those days back in the late 80's and early 90's. There have been so many changes in life in America, that I wonder if there is anything left that hasn't been touched by some kind of scandal. I am thinking specifically, of course, about the Balco steroid scandal, and the trouble Barry Bonds has been going through. I got the chance to meet Barry Bonds, in October of 1999, when he appeared on a taping of, "Live With Regis & Kathee Lee." The show was taped live from the Marina Green, in San Francisco, and after his segment, he interacted a bit with the audience, chatting and signing autographs. He was there with his family, and he just seemed like a nice, warm, average person. There was no snobbery that I had seen other professional players display, Barry Bonds seemed...genuine.

Sigh. It seems like his life today, as opposed to all those years ago, has taken on a lot of shadows amid the claims of his steroid use. A once brilliant career, is in danger of being lost forever, if those claims turn out to be the true. I can't help but wonder, who gains if it is proven that Barry Bonds used the substance? If it is true, then the record books would wipe clean what he has accomplished. If he is innocent, it might be tough to prove, because of the admission by other players of the game, such as Jason Giambi. Could it be a case of guilt by association? Could it be Barry Bonds has actually lied about his participation in taking the illegal substance? Is he telling the truth? It's all become convoluted, but one thing seems apparent to me, the powers that be, seem to be conducting a witch hunt, rather then an investigation.

It seems to me, that the game of baseball has been hopelessly changed, not just through this mess, but with the gambling scandal involving Pete Rose. I can't believe the question is still being pondered, about whether or not he should ever be allowed into the Baseball Hall Of Fame. Should he be forgiven. YES. Should he be allowed into the hall of fame? NO. Pete Rose's record as a professional player stands on it's own, and I realize that the scandal came along after he became a manager for the Cincinnati Reds, but doesn't his conduct as a manager count as well? Does the fact that he never bet against his own team make a difference? What circumstances do you believe must be met, in order for him to once again be considered for the hall of fame?

And what about Barry Bonds? Right now he is beginning another year with the San Francisco Giants. He has said that this will be his final year as a player, but he has said that before. He has let his feelings be known about how he has been hounded by the press, and that he contends the recent book that names him as a steroid user is all fabrication. I expect as the new baseball season begins, and the new investigation into this situation is conducted by Baseball Commissioner, Bud Selig, there will be a lot more information coming to the surface about what goes on in baseball.

Sigh. Do you think there is more pressure put on players today then in the past? Are their salaries part of the problem? Do the fans contribute to the pressures put on professional players? What part of a players record should be deleted, if the allegations are proven true? If there is widespread steroid use among today's players, should it be left to one player to be made an example of? And should it mean a banning for life? What about the record books...should they be wiped clean? There is a lot up in the air regarding this story, I wonder, is baseball still the national pastime, or is the pursuit of the latest scandal the way we Americans choose to spend our time now? Tell me what you think.

"Angels In The Outfield"
Oakland, California
October, 1993


Charley said...

As a fan of the game, I think that baseball will bounce back, because for every person that mars the game, we have countless others who come to it in good will and faith.

Growth is hard and uncomfortable. As a result, baseball has always looked the other way until it became impossible for them to ignore a stigma - gamling in the early 1900s (black sox scandal), racism in the 1940s and 50s (Jackie Robinson), owner manipulation (1970s), cocaine and a re-emergence of gambling (1980s), and steriods (1990s/2000s).

For each of these events mars the game is better off for receiving her lickings and getting up again. The game will be ok in the long run.

Sadly, some, like Bonds and Giambi, may beome the Joe Jacksons and Pete Roses of our time. But, history will find its perspective on them well enough.


Adm. Happy Horatio Hornhonker said...

Hello Carly:

What a lovely site you have here. I was curiously passing through the (as I do most every Sunday evening) using the "Next Blog" link in the header bar above and found you. And you are a ray of light. We reside in the NoHo Arts District in North Hollywood, although my wife and I spend many days in the Bay Area what with my work with our musician friends in Fairfax with Jemimah Puddleduck (there are many alligators wearing suits ... and as many foxes wearing tie-dye!)

This particular post of your's here about the the state of affairs in professional baseball is very very thoughtful. The questions you raise have a myriad of answers. All answered with a yes, although none too easy due to the many angles from many different perspectives.

When feeling low about the current state of affairs such as this with baseball, I usually hook-up my trusty pal Loozy-Anna the Lab and we mosey up the street and watch the young kids playing youth ball. It brings the game back to it's true roots. And this year was really special for Donna and I ... Our children live in Tucson, and we drove the 1200 miles R/T just to enjoy the experience of sharing the first time that our 5 year old Grandson Tyler Jake laced up his little Nikes, screwed on his brand new "A's" ball cap and hustled out of the dugout to shortstop for his first game. Priceless... Totally priceless!

Now I must say that I may not come this way again, but my short stay here with you has provided me strength to go on.

Thank you for your words and personal perspectives you provide... And I'll leave you with this. Although we all at one time or another fall short [elleipein] it is from those moments that we find strength and are able to rise above that which passed...


V said...

Could it be Barry Bonds has actually lied about his participation in taking the illegal substance?

Karen Funk Blocher said...

I doubt that Bonds is really being treated all that much worse than circumstances warrant. The chances that he did nothing wrong or illegal seem rather slim, and yet it's unlikely that any of the records he's set will be disallowed in official stats.

As for his being a regular guy, he may have been relatively approachable on the day you saw him, but that's not typical. John did a lot of hanging out at Spring Training once upon a time, trying to get autographs. I don't think Barry Bonds ever obliged him, but I'll double-check.

Then again, he never got Schilling or Randy Johnson either, and they haven't been accused of anything.

Sassy said...

Carly~I could have seen you and Allen there cuz my son and I were at all those games in the "bash brothers" days! Those were some heady days for A's fans. I was never a sports fan unitl I decided to get inot baseball for the sake of my son. Well it took hold and it's still my favorite. ;-) Sassy
PS. I took off work and let my son off school to see Ricky Henderson's
???# base steal! (839?)