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06-20-2012, 05:55 AM #1
"Perfect Game Shows Need for an Injection of More Hitting"?
"WASHINGTON — Baseball is going back for its future.On May 6, 1998, Kerry Wood struck out 20 Astros in a dominant one-hit performance for the ages. The next day, David Wells threw a no-hitter for the New York Yankees. It was the 29th no-hitter in Major League Baseball since 1988.
That summer, performance-enhancing drug users Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa obliterated the single-season home run record.
The Steroid Era was upon us.
In 10 juicy seasons (1998-2007) MLB saw only 14 no-hitters.
But since the release of the Mitchell Report, baseball’s self-investigation on steroids, at the end 2007, there have been 18 no-hitters. That’s 18 no-hitters in just 4½ seasons, including five this year and three already this month.
Wednesday night, the Astros joined the party by failing to notch a hit, or even manage a baserunner, as San Francisco’s Matt Cain posted the 22nd perfect game in MLB history.
But this isn’t the year of the no-hitter because of so many great pitchers in the game. It is the year of the no-hitter because baseball is going back to what it used to be.
That isn’t a good thing.
As the saying goes, good pitching beats good hitting. We learned in the Steroid Era that good juicing beats good pitching.
Yeah, the pitchers were juicing, too, which is why Roger Clemens is here in the nation’s capital awaiting the verdict on his perjury trial. The jury resumes deliberations on Monday.
Story won’t go away
The government has tried to prove that Clemens was one of the cheats of the game so it can put his face next to Barry Bonds’ on the cover of the book on illegal steroid use in the sport. A book that baseball hopes will remain closed.
But there are blank pages in the book — my guess is we don’t know even half the players who at some point tried PEDs — and the final chapter has yet to be written.
MLB officials contend the game has its good name back and that the rash of no-hitters is evidence that cheating has been eradicated. Victor Conte, who was at the center of the steroids scandal as the founder of BALCO, a sports nutrition center and steroids manufacturer just outside San Francisco, told me that is hardly the case.
“They’re still cheating, I can guarantee that,” Conte said.
Still, with MLB’s testing program, cheating isn’t as widespread and certainly not as effective as it was when renowned users like Jose Canseco and the late Ken Caminiti said there were more dirty players than clean ones.
The question is, will America really like ’roid-free baseball? Faux outrage aside, we really dug that juiced-up game.I’m not suggesting teams should have Primobolan-filled needles stacked in players’ lockers, but baseball needs to figure out how to bring the sexy back. We got a taste of it, and we want more.
This is entertainment, right? Were you not entertained?
Don’t act like you weren’t excited by those artificially-enhanced McGwire-Sosa long balls in ’98. Or like you didn’t keep track of those 73 juice-induced homers by Bonds in 2001.
And if you don’t think most of your baseball heroes, past greats who didn’t cheat with steroids, wouldn’t have used PEDs had they been available when they played, you’re fooling yourself. Ask them.
Is semi-clean baseball better than so-called dirty baseball? I submit we’ll find most won’t think it is.
No-hitters won’t attract more people to the game. Steroids did.
America’s game has already changed. Players are striking out more because they grew up watching hitters on steroids knock the cover off balls.
This generation likes it hard and fast. Baseball is a soft, slow game.
As it is, the sport is struggling to attract young viewers. Even boring games can last three hours.Steroids sped things up because they produced more highlights. Imagine how Twitter would have exploded during the McGwire-Sosa nightly home run derby.
You think a NASCAR race with Model Ts would be exciting? Then why must today’s sluggers be held back so Babe Ruth’s numbers maintain god-like status?
Why the reverence for numbers instead of the men behind them?
Hank has the hammer
Is Hank Aaron any less the Home Run King because big-headed Barry Bonds blasted more career homers?
I have 755 committed to memory. Do you know how many home runs Bonds hit? I don’t, and I don’t care.
One day Tim Tebow could throw for more yards in a season than Johnny Unitas, but will that mean … wait … sorry, I had to dry off my keyboard from that spit take. Ignore that.
My point is, this slew of no-hitters is a sign that baseball is going back in time. That’s not necessarily a good thing.
Or are you still using Jiffy Pop and watching games on a 12-inch black-and-white with rabbit ears?