Baseball and morality

Have you ever considered the fact that, during a baseball game, the average spectator in the stadium expends way more energy than the average player on the field? Since the essence of athletics from my point of view is bodies in motion, baseball has never been a sport that attracts me. But baseball does give me a question for you all, and maybe you can get your answers back to me this weekend, when I won’t be able to do much blogging.

Barry Bonds hit his 750th home run last night. The crowd went wild, screaming its delight that Barry hit another run. I found this disturbing. I consider it a 99% certainty that Barry Bonds’ home run record is tied directing to his use of steroids. To me, this fact cancels out entirely the merits of his record — he did it by cheating.

Someone with whom I spoke was much less disapproving. He said “there’s no rule in the League against players using steroids (or at least there wasn’t when Bonds took them),” as if that settled the matter. He was taken aback when I reminded him that steroids are illegal, and that it’s probably unnecessary for the baseball rules to state explicitly that players can’t take any illegal substance. It’s sufficient that our criminal statute books make that a rule.

As it is, can you imagine students at a school screaming hysterical praise for the class valedictorian, if they knew that the valedictorian’s top grades were solely because she stole copies of exams before each test? As she walked to the podium, would people be hurling foul epithets at her or would they be hollering her name with approval? I can guarantee you it would be the former, and it would be because the gal had stolen something in which the other students had a vested interest: the coveted top spot. Here, Bonds didn’t steal anything from the fans — he merely stole from the other players and the other teams. The fans are happily complicit in his theft, since it doesn’t threaten them, but redounds to their benefit.

Anyway, as someone who doesn’t get baseball at all, that’s my perception, that we have one cheater who not only prospered, but who prospered despite the fact that his cheating is an open secret. What do all of you think?

UPDATE:  Turns out that others who care about all this more than I do, and are more active about protesting, are being silenced.