Friday, August 26, 2005

The Pathetic Preseason, Moss’ Mary J, and Stuck on Steroids

As football season fast approaches, I'm reminded far too often that it simply can't approach fast enough. Most NFL diehards are currently dancing a merry jig merely at the sight of their favorite players donning pads and helmets, but I'll be frank – preseason football is about as exciting as a rousing match of tiddlywinks. Sure, starters are there for a short spell, but the atrocities that ensue as soon as said starters leave the action is all but a crime against humanity. 17 flags in 10 minutes à la the Giants and Browns? I'll pass, thank you.

As far as I'm concerned, preseason football is worse than no football at all, if only for the fact that my brain turns to mush when I watch no-name nothings make more mistakes than Kurt Warner has concussions. I'm hungry for some football, but I'm not about to eat spam when there's steak on the horizon.

Of course, there's preseason football, and then there's preseason drama. The media world was abuzz when Randy Moss revealed that he had a penchant for partaking in pot "once in a blue moon." And then, of course, the world collectively gasped. Marijuana in the NFL? In professional sports?! Say it ain't so, Randy! What should be made of such a horrifying revelation?

First of all, let's straighten one thing out: we're all more than aware that many an athlete uses recreational drugs – insert your own "Portland Trailblazers" joke here. Hell, in this last year alone we've witnessed the return of Ricky "The Rastaman" Williams and the emergence of the one and only Whizzinator, so let's all drop the surprised act. Is this really a big deal? Randy didn't exactly talk about hitting the bong in the huddle or toking up on the sidelines, so unless the ganja explains why he's able to make freakish catches at blazing (no pun intended) speeds, we seem to obsessing over nothing. Why blast an athlete for being refreshingly candid? Randy sat down, honestly admitted that he occasionally goes out with Mary Jane… and that's fine by me. Let Randy smoke all the moss he wants. It's not doing anyone any harm.

Meanwhile, in the land of baseball, pundits everywhere have been blessed with a proverbial dose of Viagra given the flurry of steroid related accusations, tests, and suspensions in the news. Seriously though, is there a hotter topic on television right now that doesn’t involve the drunken shenanigans of talentless Hollywood starlets or the insanity of one Tom “I’ve lost it” Cruise? It seems only natural to want to discuss the repercussions of baseball's current sad state of affairs, especially now that we’ve seen a potential hall of famer suspended over ‘roids.

The problem, of course, is overreaction. Steroids have become more than a dark cloud over baseball, they’ve become an all-encompassing hurricane that draws all of our attention almost to the point of blindness. What once seemed like a quest for truth now seems to unfold like a Salem witch-hunt. No longer are we faced with a burden of proof when it comes to condemning players, we can simply shout out accusations as we see fit and observe the repercussions. “I saw Goody Damon dancing with the devil! Burn him at the stake, the Jesus-like appearance is a clever ruse!” Let the tests do the talking, people.

Then comes the burning question of how to handle the stats of players we know are tainted. Apparently, rational thinking has been thrown out the window with this issue as well.

“I know! We’ll put all of the players into large burlap sacks and have fans pummel them with their own bats! And then let’s have a royal rumble in the outfield for the survivors in a winner-takes-all death-match!”

Known scholar and reputable legal analyst Curt Schilling believes that we should simply erase cheaters like Rafael Palmeiro from the record books and reset their stats at zero. Brilliant – let’s ignore the fact that these guys existed at all! While we’re at it, let’s also forget the fact that this philosophy only punishes those individuals who were ensnared in baseball’s recent steroid crackdown; it does nothing for those players who barely escaped the reach of the new policy’s grasp. How do we handle statistics from the steroid era? Should we simply eradicate the numbers of the red-handed while playing a guessing game with all others? Should we simply crucify modern-day violators with no regard to players who slithered away from the long arm of the law? Maybe we should carefully examine the landscape of post-steroid baseball and give solutions a little thought before readily blurting out ridiculous suggestions.

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End rant, over and out.

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