Normally I like Simmons’ pieces because they make me laugh, and he has an interesting way of talking about/analyzing sports. I like this one because it makes me think:
“It doesn’t make him a good guy,” I say. “You don’t understand what it was like to follow baseball before you were born. There was a strike in 1994, and the World Series was canceled. Everyone hated baseball. Then Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa started hitting homers, and the balls started flying out of the park, and it was so much fun that everyone looked the other way. We didn’t care that these guys were practically busting out of their skin or growing second foreheads. We really didn’t. All the cheating made baseball more fun to watch. We were in denial. It was weird.
“Then, Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs in a season, and that was like the turning point. We realized that things had gone too far. We blamed him for cheating and looked the other way with dozens of other guys who might have been doing the same thing. Brady Anderson hit 50 homers in 1996; we didn’t care. Bret Boone had 141 RBIs in a season; we didn’t care. Big Papi went from 10 homers to 41 in four seasons; we didn’t care. Roger Clemens was washed up, but suddenly he could throw 98 miles per hour and win Cy Youngs again; we didn’t care. Eric Gagne saved 84 straight games and threw 120 miles an hour; we didn’t care. Good players started blowing out tendons nobody had ever heard of; we didn’t care. Pitchers blew out elbow tendons and shoulder ligaments routinely; we didn’t care. This was the deal. They cheated; we pretended they didn’t. It’s really hard to explain unless you were there.”
My son tries to soak everything in. That’s lot to process for a 6-year-old.
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