Wednesday, May 17, 2006


The Babe and the Hulkster: The Creation of the American Shithead.

All baseball records are bogus. All of them. I’m tired of watching Woody and Skip on 1st and Ten talk about asterisks and mythology and all of the other old-school lack of knowledge that make this Barry Bonds talk spin round and round. Are Barry’s records bogus? Of course they are. He cheated by being born in 1966. Anyone born in 1966 or later is a cheater because they play in the Steroid Era. As a matter of fact, anyone born since the Civil War is a cheater by the mere circumstances of their birth. That’s because all records reflect their time. So they’re all bogus. All of them. It’s time to start investing in inkjet printers, because we’re going to need a lot of asterisks when I’m through. There must be an asterisk beside every baseball record from now on, because all of the records are bogus.

Let’s define any statistic as a "record." So Walter Johnson’s win total, 417 is A record even though it’s not THE record. Ok? We all on the same page? Good.

First of all, every record set before 1947 is bogus. 1947, of course, is the year that Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. Every record before that is bogus because the baseball talent pool was diluted. So: Babe Ruth’s 714 home runs were all bogus because he didn’t face any non-white pitchers. Also, Lou Gehrig’s consecutive game streak is bogus for two reasons. First, one of these non-white pitchers might have beaned Lou in his dome ending his streak. Second, baseball had not expanded to the West Coast, meaning that Lou never had a getaway Wednesday afternoon game at Fenway followed by a night game in Los Angeles. His internal clock was never altered so he never had to worry about his biorhythm forcing him to need a night off. Also, he didn’t play at night. So there’s another reason all records are bogus: No night games.

And since expansion had diluted the talent pool, all records after any new team entered the league are bogus. Sorry.

Cy Young’s 511 wins? Bogus. Cy Young pitched in the dead-ball era...never had to worry much about home runs. Because he didn’t have to worry about home runs, he never had to develop a pitch like, say, a slider or a splitter, to combat home run hitters. Since he never put slider or splitter strain on his arm, his fastball-curve-change mix was enough to keep it in the yard and keep him out of trouble and pitching every other day. So any pitcher who got by without a slider because he didn’t need it to get by these hitters has all bogus records.

And besides, the spitball was legal until 1921. So all pitching records before 1921 are invalid because they might have been cheating by today’s standards. So wipe ‘em all out.

And, of course, 1920 was the year that the "live-ball era" started. Anyone before that: wipe out the records. The pitchers had it too easy and the hitters too hard. Of course, since the live-ball era began, hitters have had it easy because the ball jumps off the bat. So any records set after the dead-ball era have to be wiped out because they discriminate against Honus Wagner. So all hitting and pitching records either before or after 1920 are all bogus.

Getting back to travel, all records set before the Dodgers and Giants moved to California are bogus. Again, Tris Speaker never had to play on West Coast time. However, all players now fly to their destinations. Tony Lazzeri had to take a train. So all ballplayers who have flown to a game have bogus records. Wipe ‘em out. Planes are cheating.

And as far as race goes, although 1947 saw the first black player, real integration did not occur until the sixties. So all records between 1947 and, say 1964, have to be wiped out for the same reason: racism. But of course, players in the sixties and seventies often took greenies (for those of you who are pathetic wastes of carbon and call yourselves baseball fans without having read Jim Bouton’s Ball Four, "greenies" are speed). So they were cheating. Records go bye-bye. But if speed is cheating, so is coffee, right? Caffeine is also a stimulant, as is nicotine. So any baseball player who ever drank a cup of coffee or smoked a cigarette during his playing days cheated. C’est La Vie, Le Record Book.

And we can’t forget alcohol or marijuana. While not stimulants, both beer and pot are mood-altering. Can’t have different moods, wouldn’t be fair to the straight-edgers. All those records–especially Mickey Mantle’s–are history.

And not to exclude any races, no one before 1994 had to face a Japanese pitcher. Did Mike Schmidt have to worry about Hideo’s splitter? Nope. Guess all Mike’s records gotta go too.

Besides segregation, WWII disrupted baseball. So by way of the "Reverse Bogus Theorem", Ted Williams’s and Joe DiMaggio’s records have to go too. They missed significant playing time during their peak years. That means their numbers are less than they would have been. Because their records are not accurate reflections of their talent, all their numbers are bogus because they’re too low.

Also, after Bob Gibson’s 1.12 ERA in 1968, baseball decided pitchers were too dominant so they lowered the mound to give hitters the edge back. So, by today’s standards, any pitcher before 1968 has bogus records because they cheated by not filing down the mound of their own volition.

Finally, steroids are cheating. Anyone who took steroids cheated. All the records are bogus. I think that about covers it all, right?

First of all, there is only one reason that steroids should be banned from baseball. I don’t care about the record because all records have (just) been proven to be bogus. Seriously, any statistic has meaning only relative to its time. In every sport. So none of them mean anything out of context. If you analyze the context, you can decide who the best players of any given era are and that’s as good as it gets. And I like home runs. They’re fun. Do I care if a guy wants to shrivel his balls and have violent mood swings? Why should I? What do I care? None of these guys care about me, why should I care about them?

There’s not even any scientific proof that steroids are bad for you. Not directly anyway. Name one person who has died as a direct result of steroid use. Direct use. Meaning that if you ‘roid rage and jump off a bridge, it doesn’t count. The ‘roids didn’t kill you, the fall did. Name one. Go ahead. I’m waiting.....

See. Nobody. Lyle Alzado? Nope. He had brain cancer which doctors now acknowledge was totally unrelated to his steroid use. Ken Caminiti? Nope. He died because he drank, took painkillers, and smoked crack. While steroid use may have contributed to his mood and state of mind, thus working as a gateway to larger problems, they didn’t kill him.

In fact, there hasn’t been a single study done on the long-term health effects of steroids. Not one. Some doctors–the dumb ones–say that there doesn’t need to be a study because it’s common sense. There has also been no study on the long term health effects of shooting yourself in the balls. There doesn’t need to be one; common sense tells you that your health will be negatively effected if you’re bleeding from the scrotum. But are negative health effects due to steroids common sense?

Really? Why? What are steroids? Well, most often, they are testosterone hormones. Generally they are engineered and not natural, but they are testosterone. And of course, testosterone is present in every human being. Everyone. We’re all on ‘roids.

Time for "Layman’s Sex Ed:" Testosterone is what makes men men. Estrogen is what makes women women. It can be categorically stated that women should not take steroids if they want to remain women; the reason female body builders who take steroids look like men is because, chemically, they ARE men. Taking testosterone turns women, literally, into men. And vice versa. Prior to sex change operations, the first thing the doctors prescribe is testosterone for women and estrogen for men. Literally, gender is based on chemical composition.

So why then do we assume that men who take testosterone are going to die from it? They are simply adding to an already large pool. In fact, steroids have never even directly caused any medical problems, much less death. No, I’m serious. Let’s look at former Pro Wrestler and anti-steroid crusader, Superstar Billy Graham.

Graham is crippled. He took steroids in the seventies and eighties to increase his muscle mass and enhance his career. However, eventually, his muscles were so large that his bones could not support them and his body began to break down. He blames steroids. Well, yeah, I guess. If he could not have otherwise increased his muscle mass beyond the breaking point, then, yes, steroids contributed to his decline. But they contributed to that decline: lifting too many weights and having too much muscle CAUSED it. A lot of people think that the same thing happened to Mark McGwire. McGwire spent most of his later years on the disabled list with foot and leg injuries. The reason why was probably that he was literally too large for his legs to hold him up.
But theoretically, if you worked out enough, you could experience this same injury. If your muscles are too heavy for your bones, your bones will cease to function. That’s physics. By the same token, if you have too much fat for your bones to hold, they will similarly cease to function. But pizza is not illegal (thank god) even though there is no evidence that illegal steroids are intrinsically worse for you than pizza is. Assumptions and guesses, but no evidence.

Let’s stay on the topic of pro wrestling. This week on Costas Now, Mike Schmidt is quoted as saying that Babe Ruth is the single icon of pro baseball. That all topics on baseball prowess start and end with Ruth. This is both obviously racist and kind of fair at the same time. Ruth’s records (bogus) have pretty much all been broken (bogus-ly) at this point. So based on numbers alone, the Babe is not the best baseball player in any single category, much less overall. Critics (read: racists) often say that Ruth was a superior ballplayer to Hank Aaron because he did what he did in less at bats. Hmm. Well, ok. But perhaps if the Babe had eaten less, drank less, chased less tail, and been as "good" (acknowledgment of judgement) a man as Hank Aaron, he would have had more at bats and a longer career. As it was, the Babe was a fat, drunken, promiscuous jackass so I guess we’ll never know what he might have done with Aaron’s at bats (and it doesn’t matter because, through no fault of their own, Hank and the Bambino are completely bogus).

But although Schmidt’s point is racist, it’s also fair. Because, after acknowledging the inherent racism that existed in America during the Babe’s career, he is still the single most transcendent personality and he defined American sport. So many outside factors contributed to this: mass media improvements, economic prosperity, WWI elevating the United States as a world power, etc. But the Babe was the man. It doesn’t matter if Aaron is better: The Babe was first. Not only did Babe Ruth define the careers of everyone who came after him, he also defined the careers of everyone who came before. If there was no Babe Ruth (or another guy who meant what he means), Ty Cobb and Shoeless Joe mean nothing. His celebrity makes theirs.

The most direct comparison I can think of the Babe Ruth is Hulk Hogan. Hulk singlehandedly turned pro wrestling into a part of Americana. Let’s not talk about the fact that wrestling isn’t a sport–that’s completely beside the point. (Besides, wrestling is not fake. It’s fixed. They are not the same thing. Look at how any aged wrestler looks and walks for proof). It is part of our culture. People paid to watch the Babe play; people paid to watch Hogan pretend to play. Both Babe and Hogan defined everyone both before and after them by creating history. Would I have ever heard of Gorgeous George or Bruno Sammartino if there was no Hulkster? Nope. Since Ruth’s time, baseball players are better. Period. The Babe couldn’t make the big leagues today unless he hired a trainer. It’s that simple and if you don’t see that, you’re living in your own reality (for more on reality, see Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman. No, I’m serious, you don’t know what life is about until you read this book–he makes Noam Chomsky seem full of shit, and that’s saying something). And today’s wrestlers have more moves and more skill than the Hulk ever had. Just watching his later matches will tell you that. He looks like a relic and the crowd cheers not his skill, but his nostalgia. In a sense, they are cheering themselves and their own memories. Feeling good about watching Babe Ruth run around the bases on old films is exactly the same.

This is the problem with steroids: they’re unfair. Not to the records; fuck the records, man. And Mother Fuck morality too. To a man, every retired player has said that if they played in this era, they would have taken the ‘roids. Everyone. Athletes are competitive–that’s their job. They would–and did–do anything they could to be competitive. If ‘roids are necessary to be competitive, then you do ‘em. Period.

But that’s where fairness comes in. Let’s say you and I are competing for the 1st base job on the Kansas City Royals (oh....the fantasy just ended for you, didn’t it? Not me. I like barbecue sauce). We are the same age. Our minor league numbers are literally identical. I don’t mean similar: IDENTICAL. In fact, our potential is also identical and Bill James projects that, barring injury, our statistics after twenty years will be identical. Here’s where the parable begins: Victor Conte calls both of us on the same day, offering us steroids. You say no. Who cares why? Maybe you’re smart and thinking about your future. Maybe you have principles and don’t want to cheat. Maybe you like the size of your testes and they are your identifying characteristic. Shit, maybe you’re just afraid of needles. Whatever the reason, you turn him down.

I, on the other hand, say yes. Maybe I’m dumb and don’t care about my future. Maybe I have no principles and cheat on everything. Maybe my balls are too large and I’m looking forward to testicular reduction. Maybe I have a needle fetish. Whatever the reason, I say yes.
Now, what happens? I am better than you. I have more power and more endurance. I am more durable. I win the job. I go on to make millions, you go on to make mortgage payments. I cheated. It’s unfair to you.

Fairness is the definition of sport. The reason we like sports more than we like life is because sports are fair. They must be or they’re pro wrestling. Imagine sport as unfair. You can’t, can you? The rules are the same for everyone. They must be. What makes you angrier than when you think a umpire’s call is unfair? Not wrong, not a mistake. Unfair. Nothing makes me angrier than that. I think more about that than I do about world hunger. Not kidding. And you do, too. And you know it. We get enough unfairness in life. We are supposed to cheat. We are supposed to call in favors. We are supposed to get more than we deserve if we can. Name one time you turned down a raise because you thought you didn’t deserve it. You never have, neither have I. In fact, my own mother told me she wished she’d raise me to be more of a jerk-off because then I would be more "successful." I wouldn’t worry about taking advantage of people for my own gain (for Econ 101, see my previous blog). But sports are based on fairness. An unfair sport is not a sport; it’s a life. When all conditions are fairly met, the best man wins. And that’s what we want. We want to believe that being good at anything is worth something. We want to know that if we work hard enough, we will get what we really deserve. Happiness and Success. The American Dream (not Dusty Rhodes).

But not me. I know better. I know that you are all shitheads. All of you. Yes, you too, Nick. But that’s ok: being a shithead is a good thing. I think my major problem in life is not that I’m a shithead: Everyone is a shithead (except, perhaps, Hubie Brown). My problem is that I KNOW that I’m a shithead–the majority of you think you’re great. So while I am hating myself for being a shithead, you all are bathing in your own feces, enjoying the aroma, and being richer better people than me. Congratulations: you know the meaning of life. The meaning of life is to ignore the fact that you’re a shithead and fuck as many people as possible.

Do not sympathize with my self-imposed doom–I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because I’m David Eckstein, not Barry Bonds. I leave the dominance to you. Me....I like to scrap.

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