A Reflection of Our Losses

Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, Jose Conseco, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez … larger than life heroes in the baseball world. Their stats raise them above their peers. In a world where performance equals millions of dollars and the life of a celebrity, they are admired and adored.

They are also men over whom a dark cloud resides … and about whom Baseball as a sport is confused. The Baseball Hall of Fame is the place where the best and brightest are memorialized for as long as this earth stands. It is the pinnacle and those who soar to the top of the game desire, even expect, to be there. If it’s just a numbers issue then there are no questions and all of those mentioned above should be honored in the Hall of Fame. But it’s not just a numbers issue because those listed above are known as cheaters.

Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer.  ~Ted Williams

I am interested in the wringing of hands in regard to who should be in the Hall of Fame because I have no history with baseball. I do not love the game, though I find it mildly interesting. I have no emotional stake in who gets in the Hall of Fame and who doesn’t. Visiting the Hall of Fame is not on my life’s agenda.

Don’t forget to swing hard, in case you hit the ball.  ~Woodie Held

Do they get in? Do they get in the Hall of Fame but with an asterisk or an explanation that they were cheaters? Perhaps they were great players before they used steroids… it only helped them a little. Maybe they’ll be kept from the Hall. Some are worried that an entire generation of baseball players will be missing, making the Hall irrelevant.

During my 18 years I came to bat almost 10,000 times.  I struck out about 1,700 times and walked maybe 1,800 times.  You figure a ballplayer will average about 500 at bats a season.  That means I played seven years without ever hitting the ball.  ~Mickey Mantle, 1970

Baseball’s quandary is a reflection of our cultural losses. Ours is a time when there is no right or wrong. It is a day when everyone’s personal opinion of good and evil is true only for them. How can we possibly say that any of them were WRONG for taking steroids? The only thing WRONG today is to tell someone that they’re wrong. Baseball can’t figure out what to do because our lost culture can’t find it’s way.

The rejection of the notion of something being true or false, right or wrong, good or evil has left humanity in the position of moral equivalence. It’s only wrong if it feels wrong. And to some, leaving Pete Rose (who turns 70 this week) out of the Hall of Fame seems wrong. Hasn’t he suffered enough? To others, it seems right, because he compromised the game – and he can never undo that.

It ain’t like football.  You can’t make up no trick plays.  ~Yogi Berra

On a personal level, I hope all of these men find redemption and enjoy the hope that comes from following Christ. But the Hall of Fame isn’t really about personal redemption, is it? Isn’t it about the men who surpassed all others in the game? If you took a performance enhancing drug to help you be better – an unfair advantage – then your stats are skewed … bogus … useless. That is, unless you’re going to have a Cheater’s Wing at Cooperstown.

I certainly do not believe I’ve settled the issue for Baseball fans. However, what is happening in Major League Baseball today is a reflection of the loss of moral courage in our culture today.

Baseball is an allegorical play about America, a poetic, complex, and subtle play of courage, fear, good luck, mistakes, patience about fate, and sober self-esteem.  ~Saul Steinberg

God has preserved His will for us, and when we decide we know better then we lose our way. As long as each one of us is following our own idea of what is right and what is wrong, we will have chaos. And in that world cheaters are winners, those who reject the rules are heroes, and the love of the game is defined by the contents of a syringe.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105

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