Essay / Uncategorized

Does baseball care?

Steroid shocker: Palmeiro suspended – Baseball – MSNBC.com: “The 40-year-old Palmeiro became the seventh player to fail a test under the toughened major league policy that took effect in March, rules criticized by Congress as not being stringent enough.”Today I called my thirteen year old daughter from a conference in San Diego.She knew about Palmeiro, of course. Mary Kate is the biggest baseball fan I know. She knows the sport and reads the paper with the avidity of an eighty year old with memories of looking for news of the War.So she saw the news well before I did.There was disappointment in her voice. She was sad, there is no better word. Why? One of the clean players had been caught lying.She knows people aren’t perfect. Living with me would impress on her the fact that forty year olds aren’t all they wish they were.What is hard to deal with, I think, is that her perfect game, which should be about her Sox destroying the Yankees, is now about cheating by stars. Men paid millions to play a game cheat and lie to make millions more.Her softball coach, paid nothing to do great things with girls, taught her cheating does not pay.Well, does it Mr. Palmeiro? Who is right: the mother coaching girl’s softball in La Mirada or the superstar from the Majors?I am not here to judge Palmeiro. What he has done, assuming he has done it, is no greater than the evils most of us do. Today, however, a dad had to hear disappointment in his daughter’s voice. One of the good guys was not good. I know she has to learn that lesson. People are not always what they say they are. They often say that they are doing one thing, but then do something else. (And now the anguish of knowing my own failings! Lord be merciful to me a sinner!) This is a trivial thing compared to the lessons that will come.That is my problem. Palmeiro made a small joy a sorrow for no good reason.I doubt in his mansion, Palmeiro cares he took a bit of my daughter’s joy in his game. I doubt he will ever know the pain. It is not so great, not so important in a world where terrorists roam, babies starve, and Sudan allows slavery. But isn’t that what makes me so bad?It is Palmeiro’s rare and beautiful gift to live in one of the last gardens in this troubled old world. We do not envy him his life, at least very much. It gives us joy to know that somewhere there is a place where men play games and other men watch for the sheer pleasure of it. It is a peaceful place where arguments go on peacefully, because they are half the fun of it. Baseball is a game in a very serious world.Palmeiro has made a game “serious.” When a game is serious, then it is no longer of any value.Palmeiro has brought his trivial evil, his petty lies, to the game. And he made my daughter sad about something that is supposed to have few meaningful tears. She should cry over the playoffs, not drug use by aging athletes who will not accept their own mortality. Must Palmeiro force me to have a serious discussion about everything?I know such small heartbreaks must come and

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