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Friday, December 14, 2007

Baseball Steroids

There's a huge buzz going on over some report that says what we've all pretty much known for the past 5 years: there's a lot of steroid/drug usage in the game of baseball. And it tries to shock us with the fact that it's been going on a lot longer than the 4 years that MLB has been having to test for steroids - even though all of the cases involving players with steroid involvement have been saying things about steroids being used for a long time.

So in essence, this report tells us more details about what we already had the gist of but didn't care enough about to investigate the matter ourselves.

I personally dislike baseball. I wouldn't shed a tear if this or some other huge steroid scandal or report shut down the game of baseball entirely. Not one tear. Well, unless superfans of baseball learned how much I dislike baseball and my future nonchalance over its demise, then beat me up with baseball bats. Then I might shed some tears. But they'd still have little to do with remorse or mourning for the deceased sport.

My thinking is that we shouldn't give a damn about steroids being used in baseball. Frankly, the whole operation is hogwash, and if the sport itself can't maintain a control - how can it expect its players to follow the rules? I know, that sounds confusing and nonsensical. Here's my thought process:

The argument about steroids (aside from its illegality) is that it gives certain players an unfair advantage over other players. This leads to the whole "it's unfair, so this player shouldn't be allowed to win things or hold records because it's unfair" argument/complaint/whine-fest.

My thinking is that you can't argue about one type of unfairness or advantage unless all the others are eliminated as well. It all becomes a moot point. It's like trying to complain about your chess opponent moving pieces and cheating WHILE THE CHESS BOARD IS ON FIRE. The game is already useless, so why argue about its further uselessness?

Baseball fields/stadiums aren't built to the same code. Here is proof-positive that the game itself is useless because the fields aren't the same, as referenced in Wikipedia:

Unlike the majority of sports, baseball playing fields can vary significantly, within certain guidelines, in size and shape of the field. With the exception of the strict rules on the dimensions of the infield, discussed above, the official rulessimply state that fields built after June 1, 1958 must have a minimum distance of 325 feet (99 m) from home plate to the fences in left and right field and 400 (121 m) feet to center. This rule (a footnote to official rule 1.04) was passed specifically in response to the fence at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which was not originally designed for baseball, and thus was only 251 feet (77 m) to the left field pole (1 foot [0.3 m] over the bare minimum required by the rules). Major league teams often skirt this rule. For example, Minute Maid Park's Crawford Boxes are only 315 feet (96 m), and with a fence much lower than the famous "Green Monster" at Fenway Park which is labeled as 310 feet (94 m) away and 37-foot (11 m), two-inches tall. And there are no rules at all regulating the height of "fences, stands or other obstructions", other than the assumption that they exist. However, teams are required to obtain approval from the League Office when constructing new stadiums, or when proposing alterations.

Because of this flexibility, there are numerous variations in park configuration, from different lengths to the fences to uneven playing surfaces to massive or minimal amounts of foul territory. The differing styles create a unique sense of ambiance in each location, something that many fans find alluring (and even a source of civic pride). All of these factors, as well as local variations in altitude, climate and game scheduling, can affect the nature of the games played at those ballparks. Certain stadiums eventually get labeled as either a "pitcher's park" or a "hitter's park", depending on which side benefits more from the unique factors present. Chicago's Wrigley Field can be either, depending on the wind direction at any given time. This is due to Chicago's close proximity to Lake Michigan. The wind provides drag or lift to the ball depending on whether it is blowing "in", or "out" or "across" the field. When the wind blows "in", it can lead to more fly ball outs. When the wind blows "out", an ordinary fly ball is more likely to wind up a home run into the bleachers or even reach the streets. When the wind blows "across", a fly ball can sail into the bleachers for a home run, or carry away from the bleachers for an out or a simple extra-base hit.

In the end, the lack of a consistent, standardized playing field has caused some debate, particularly when comparing players statistics and career records. For example, hitting a ball off the Green Monster in Boston results in a hit, where at San Francisco the hit may have been caught.

So the size of the stadium is not consistent, and has an effect on the outcome of the game. There are many other biased factors in the game of baseball, too. For example, gravity doesn't remain constant. I'm fairly sure that the Denver stadium is the highest in altitude, which leads to a slightly lower gravity and (probably more of an effect) thinner air, which leads to longer hits in that particular location. I think the lowest in altitude is in Arizona, but I could be wrong. I'm not willing to do the research on that one at this moment.

So now that space and physics are unbalanced in baseball, why not add on the imbalance of the time continuum itself? In the game of football (not the soccer kind of football, although this is true for that sport as well), the game is rigidly timed. You get four 15-minute quarters, one sudden death 15-minute overtime, and if the score is still tied, the game is still over. I think that in playoffs, this rule is abandoned, but the point remains that MOST of the time, the game is rigidly timed. That means that one player has a certain amount of time, give or take, to amass points and and distances and playtime in order to acheive a record. In baseball, there is no definite end time. Every game can go off into infinity. How can you have a record for something in baseball if one player plays only 9-inning standard games, but one player gets to be in 14-inning games or 18-inning games?

My point is that baseball is a stupid game that means nothing, is completely useless, and steroids are the least of their worries. If steroids were really that important of a factor in winning or breaking records, teams would be hiring professional wrestlers as ringers. Have you ever seen these Ironman competitions with people PULLING TRAINS? Give one of these monsters a baseball bat and see what happens.

What we need is either actual regulation for these things and enforcement of those rules, or the foundation of the WLB: Whatever League Baseball. Anyone can play, using whatever advantages they want. I think a team of those World's Strongest Women Competition entrants would be an exciting game to watch. Plus, more 'roid rage means more chances for violence and injury, which is what drives most of us to watch real sports.

The whole game of baseball is stupid and worthless. I didn't need a report about steroids to tell me that.

(An article about the steroid report, in case I haven't fully convinced you to stop watching baseball entirely)

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