the game is more than a game


greetings, anyone who reads this blog, I hope you enjoy this 3rd post on forth and backwards (the 2nd worth reading), and I hope you don’t feel too lonely being probably the only person who reads this.  Don’t worry though, soon you will have companions, maybe.

this post was initially meant to disparage tino martinez and his, in my opinion, steroid use.  But seriously, I think I can talk about something a little more recent than that.  And Julian’s right, there’s no way he could have taken them, he just couldn’t have, right?  I mean, the Mitchell Report SURELY listed EVERYONE who took steroids, how could they mess that up?  And, surely, Tino said “no to peer pressure!” while on the #1 juicing team in the league.  And career year in the smack middle of the peak of steroid usage?  mere coincidence.

Julian, I don’t think he did either,  I just like to annoy you.  And this final sentence isn’t sarcastic, I promise.

But after realizing that I’ve grown tired of steroids (my biceps are too big now), I’ve chosen to type in a different direction, and about how baseball, and any sport for any respective preference, can be more.

Okay now we start

Having read tinman-with-no-heart’s last post, which was a futile attempt at a decent rebuttal to my initial post, I have a few things to say.

But first, I start you with this entertaining excerpt from tinman’s previous (untitled, why?) post

“Sure Rocco has an incurable disease that stops his mitochondria from producing enough energy for his muscles to function properly, mitochondrial myopathy, but that isn’t an excuse.”

“Sure Rocco has an incurable disease that stops his mitochondria from producing enough energy for his muscles to function properly, mitochondrial myopathy, but that isn’t an excuse.”

“Sure Rocco has an incurable disease that stops his mitochondria from producing enough energy for his muscles to function properly, mitochondrial myopathy, but that isn’t an excuse.”

Players, not only in baseball, but any athlete, actually, everyone everywhere doing everything are constantly battling various problems, whether emotional or physical.  And the way that we “measure” ourselves or others is how we believe they handled these various problems, and, ultimately, transcend through them (if they ever do).  I think I should work on this “transcend” thing.

From the Chuck Knoblauchs to the A.J. Burnetts to the Mariano Riveras, baseball fans (well those are three yankees, but I’m a yankee fan, so I might as well talk about what I know best.   unlike julian, who called tino martinez the best yankee first basemen since Lou Gehrig, and took the back side of a pencil to Don Mattingly’s name in the history books, and a knife to his back) have witnessed ball players who are more like ticking time bombs, and ball players who are, in the most nerve-racking situations, as calm as your therapist.

It’s part of what we like so much about baseball.  Sure, fantasy baseball and stat crunching and  whipping out the perfect statistic at the perfect time to bitch out your friend in an argument on which player is better (maybe, for example, an argument over don mattingly and tino martinez, but, then again, that’s not really an argument) are all fun, and part of the sport, but hey, there were times when I decided to watch the yankees just to see if knoblauch botched another one – and I was a yankee fan!  Part of what makes sports sports is watching the Yankees blow a 3-0 lead to the red sox, and being overwhelmed with despondence (besides, we’re the yankees, we’ll just spend some money and win next year).

But, sorry for the digression, back to Rocco Baldelli and his muscular dystrophy.

When Chuck Knoblauch was drilling beer venders and blondes in the bleachers on throws from second base, he had no excuse.  Poor Chucky was simply a head case, and I understand there were some off field complications at the time, but, seriously Chuck, throws to first from 45 feet out?

There’s no excuse for that, there’s no excuse for B.J. Upton walking to a double in deep left center, and there’s no excuse for Hanley Ramirez for kicking a ball and watching it roll, chuck knoblauch (i’m on you today, pal) pointing at a ball in play while runners rounded the bases, and altercating with a teammate for telling you to hustle (you again, Upton).

These guys simply ignored their athletic ability — but what if they didn’t have any athletic ability, would I still be writing this?  Nope.

When someone who was a 3 sport stud in high school, was drafted 6th in the 2000 draft, flew through the Tampa Rays farm system, competed for the AL rookie of the year award (lost to Godzilla) and put together a few solid seasons on the Rays until his body literally collapsed, and his athletic ability was literally taken from him by a hereditary disease, it isn’t his fault.

If your body physically, literally, doesn’t allow you to perform on the baseball field because of a diagnosed illness, an illness that doctor’s can assure makes someone weaker, and weaker, and weaker, that is, I think, one of the most acceptable excuses I’ve ever heard.

What should really be “taken away” from “the rocco baldelli fable” is the dude’s determination to not leave the game.  And it’s not a money factor.  Having signed his first contract with a $2.25 million signing bonus, and signing a contract in 2006 for $9 million, Rocco can completely and abruptly leave the game of baseball without any financial problems.  But he still plays, he is still involved in the game, the guy overlooked shame and is down in single A trying to be effective enough to be called up by season’s end.  There’s something in there, somewhere trapped in some sulcus of his mind, that simply leaves him coming back for more.  It’s something that people like my buddy Matty who has had an injury plagued pitching arm but will still play the game, my buddy Kyle who tore his ACL playing lax but is still out on the field today, Katrina Dowd, an ex highschool classmate who tore her ACL playing lax also but is now on the women’s national team, share.  It’s something that is almost ineffable.

And this isn’t some Brett Favre bullshit.

Take, for example, Mike Lowell, the 36 year old red sox 3rd baseman who, in 1999, was diagnosed with testicular cancer but came back later in the same season to play.  Or another red sox player, Jon Lester, the then 22 year old pitcher who was diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma in 2006 and has flourished enough to be a staple in the sox rotation and has fought enough to confidently say that he is “cancer-free.”

These are all people with an excuse, a real, honest, excuse.  Nobody would look down on these guys for quitting, and leaving the game.  I can only imagine the sudden despondence and hate and anger and sadness and feel of betrayal one would feel if told something so horrible.  You wouldn’t think that one would be thinking about baseball when facing thoughts on mortality Cancer? It wouldn’t only be an excuse to quit, it would be a reason to quit.

But, like I said, it’s something ineffable. (and I belabor, it’s not the money)

We love the game, care for the game, pay money to sit in uncomfortable metal chairs to watch the game, all because we love the fantasy leagues, we love the stats, the bragging rights, the bar brawls and “sox suck” shirts, and we love seeing someone with a ton more athletic skill than we have throw a ball in the stands and saying “even I could have made that play!”

But, while most people call baseball a “game,”what really makes this “thing” what it actually is, is the fact that facing terminal illnesses, and facing one of the worst things anyone could ever face, something I wouldn’t “wish on my worst enemy,” some players want nothing more than to get back out on that field. No matter what their condition is.  All they want to do is do the thing that they know best, the thing that they’ve always known, because to many people it’s not just a game, it’s something beyond reason, beyond an excuse.  It’s their life, our life.  That is what we love to see, to share, the most.

And that’s something even Julian can agree with.




2 Responses to “the game is more than a game”

  1. Lauren Says:


  2. down2earthiphop Says:

    yo follow my blog…or just check it out and show freind…ight??

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