- The Washington Times - Monday, July 8, 2002

Baseball has come late to steroids, the juice that produces bulging biceps and all sorts of inner rage on the parties that imbibe.
Baseball is usually late, though rarely sorry, and rarely decisive.
Repeat after the sycophants of baseball. That ball is going, going, gone. That prognosis possibly applies to the game's long-term health as well.
The home-run glut is the circumstantial evidence, bolstered by the contents in Mark McGwire's former locker.
McGwire came to look unreal because of the muscle mass, plus unreal in his movements. Moving eventually hastened his end, with one tear or another to the sinewy stuff around the muscles, the stress too much on his body.
A call to respond is the least baseball could do, if the least were not beyond the limited range of Bud Selig, the game's former interim-commissioner-for-life.
Selig probably is still in recovery from his meeting with Jesse Ventura on Capitol Hill in the offseason. Selig held up a will-work-for-food placard and moved about the corridors of power pushing a grocery cart. It almost was a nice try, unimpressed though Ventura was.
The game has been overdosing on nostalgia since the culture around it increased its need to have an action fix on a 24/7 basis. Baseball is the slow trying to tug on the culture's fast. The discovery of Jackie Robinson by Ken Burns was the help of the helpless, a telling sign that pervades.
The juice has been a momentary godsend, if the juice is as prevalent as some suggest. Chicks dig the long ball, as does ESPN and the game's core support group.
Baseball once employed the asterisk next to the 61 home runs of Roger Maris in 1961. That was an accounting matter, since expunged, in response to the longer season. The asterisk is ever useful, going next to McGwire, then Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa. They hardly pass the smell test, which is the only test available at the moment.
Sosa took to claiming he wanted to be "first in line" at the restroom, a noble goal under any circumstance.
Rick Reilly, a columnist with Sports Illustrated, decided to play Sosa's game and made an offer to help.
Reilly provided Sosa with the address of a medical center, and Sosa provided Reilly with an earful. It was all in good fun, dirty or clean, not sure which with Sosa.
The burden was Sosa's, and still is, and baseball's, too. Sosa asked to be invaded, after all. Reilly merely responded to the challenge.
The issue is credibility, of which baseball has little. The news flashes from Ken Caminiti and Jose Canseco have contributed to the background noise. You are permitted to debate the percentages of steroid use among the players, just not the essence of the indictment.
The Olympic ninnies have been on this well-worn path since nations viewed the medal count as an endorsement of their political worth. The event has suffered accordingly, to where it is best viewed while holding your nose.
Baseball, which used to be the national pastime, remains ahead of hockey and soccer in most U.S. precincts. Yet it is on pace to be less relevant, if the deteriorating pace of the last generation is an indication.
The owners and union now have another reason to stop play in the fall. Not that another reason is necessary. Money is sufficient cause enough with these two sides, and Selig is just the person to be incapable around both.
Baseball will try to talk a good game this week in Milwaukee, the site of the All-Star Game tomorrow night.
How about those star-studded selections? That old standby has become as trite as the game itself, although a few seamheads still manage to work themselves in a lather over who is selected and who is not. How quaint.
It just so happens baseball lost a genuine hero from a bygone era last week. Ted Williams was a fighter pilot who served in two wars, batted .406 in 1941 and turned Eddie Brinkman into a hitting threat.
The game does not hold up well to the comparison that his passing prompts.
The game is up against the S's: Selig, steroids and a strike.
You are left to believe what you want to believe around the game, which is the problem.


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