I’ve only been to Cooperstown, NY once in my short life. It wasn’t for an induction or a special event. It was just a chance for a father and son to experience the heart of the game we’ve enjoyed for as long as I can remember. He and I have shared countless baseball games, and we can say that we saw 6 teams play the year the won the world series [1995 Atlanta Braves – 1997 Florida Marlins – 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks – 2005 Chicago White Sox – 2006 St. Louis Cardinals – 2008 Philadelphia Phillies].
It’s a cute little town you don’t see very often anymore. There’s no highway, no Wal-Mart, Target or Starbucks. You feel like you’ve stepped back in time through a cornfield into where baseball was born. We got hotdogs at a little place around the corner from the Hall of Fame, I played in the batting cages along the main road, we took in an old-timers game at Doubleday Field and I bought a vanity street sign marked ’10 Chipper Jones Way.’
Our trip to Cooperstown was when I truly began to appreciate the game of baseball for what is has meant to our country throughout the years. The history of the league can teach us a lot about where we’ve been and where we’re going. It’s a place where the purity of baseball is preserved.
I guess that’s why the whole steroids issue becomes so polarizing. If you get everyone together in the birthplace of baseball to celebrate that purity (however real it is), it’s a little easier to look at the contrast of modern day baseball.
This year brings us one step closer to being fully engulfed in the steroids era as Rafael Palmeiro enters the fray. In a few years when Bonds becomes eligible, we’ll be at def-con 5.
Eventually there will come a time when we all just admit that the steroids era was part of the game just like any other. It existed. It was. And I say instead of ignoring it, or trying to erase it from the history books, we need to embrace it as part of our history. Just as we’ve embraced that at one time, African-Americans were not allowed to play in the league.
I think we should stop arguing about if steroids users are worthy of the hall. We all have our opinions, but if we want to preserve the game going forward, we can’t pretend that the last 20 years didn’t exist.
Vote the players into the hall. Celebrate what they accomplished on the field. Move forward. Move on with this great game of ours.