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It's Part of Our Past, Ray

In the timeless classic Field of Dreams, Terence Mann (James Earl Jones) gives Ray Kinsella a memorable speech about why "people will come" to his cornfield:

"The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball.  America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers.  It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again.  But baseball has marked the time.  This field, this game:  it's a part of our past, Ray.  It reminds of us all that once was good and it could be again."

This movie was made in 1989, and this quote unfortunately shows how outdated the movie is.  There used to be a time when baseball was pure;  when a player would hit a home run and you wouldn't have to second guess if they were using something extra to knock it out.  The last several years we've all seen the fallout of the "Steroid Era."  We've seen numerous players crucified for appearing in the Mitchell Report.  We've seen Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa go from heroes to pariahs.  We've seen the San Francisco Giants try to distance themselves so much from Barry Bonds that they celebrated all of his accomplishments (including being the home run king) with only a microscopic sign in Pac Bell's left field corner.  We've seen Roger Clemens nervously twitch in front of Congress as he tries to explain how his best friends "misremembered" certain conversations.  And now we have the Arod bombshell.

In instances like Bonds, Clemens and Arod, I just don't get it.  We're not talking about guys like FP Santangelo and David Segui, who clearly needed steroids just to stay afloat in the majors.  We're talking about guys that were the most talented players in the league.  They were going through their seasons as sure-fire hall of famers.  But now, due to the disrespect they showed themselves and the game, who knows if we'll ever see them enshrined in immortal greatness.

At the Subway Series in October of 2000, the then soon-to-be free agent Alex Rodriguez was comfortably seated in a front row seat at Shea watching the game.  I remember thinking how amazing it was going to be when the Mets signed him in the offseason.  He was going to become "Shea-Rod," a larger than life figure that would patrol shortstop for the Mets for the next decade.  Thank God I was wrong.  

I will be the first one to say that up until the 2001 season I was a huge Arod fan and thought that he, Jeter and Nomar would lead this new breed of baseball superstars into the new millenium.   But then came the reports from Steve Phillips that he cut off talks with Rodriguez because of the "24 guys and 1" chemistry.  Rumors surfaced that in order to sign with the Mets he would need his own office, own hotel suites, even his own jet.  Whether that was true or not, it was plain to see that Arod was becoming the kind of superstar you want to hate.  He knew his talent surpassed everyone else's and he wanted to make sure he was accommodated accordingly.  Individual statistics clearly meant more to him than winning, and it's evident still today.

This selfishness is what most likely led him to take steroids in the first place.  He wanted to go down as the greatest player of all time.  While he was well on his way there, he felt the need to keep up with the rest of the league to "get an edge".  So he cheated.  He cheated the game, himself, and most importantly he cheated the fans.  The fans that watched him play and thought they were witnessing greatness, when in reality they were witnessing a charade.

Almost a decade later we sit here in a whole new world.  I won't be naive to the point where I think MLB's new testing policies have completely eliminated performance enhancing drugs from the game.  But I can now look at the game and the new breed of players that are taking us into the new decade and feel good about where we are.  Guys like Evan Longoria, Dustin Pedroia, Grady Sizemore, and of course Jose Reyes and David Wright are the new breed that can make us all forget about the infamous "Steroid Era."

Watching the 5 foot 10 inch Pedroia win the AL MVP with sheer heart and Evan Longoria hit home run  after home run  in last year's postseason brought joy to every fan of the game of baseball.  And getting the privilege of watching Reyes and Wright on the left side of the Mets infield for (hopefully) the next decade is an absolute pleasure.  So maybe Terence Mann was right.  Maybe there are some players out there that can remind us of all that once was good...and that could be again. 

Mets Blog Writer:  Jeff Bertinetti

1 comment:

  1. If you build it...they will come. That seems to be the problem. The fans still come, even in the steroid era. The only thing that gets hurt is history. These individuals tarnished their image forever. They will go down in history as cheaters. But fans still come and watch. And because of that, cheaters end up with $300m contracts.