Getting around to the Mitchell Report

Well, I took two days off from touching my blog after I hit “send” on my last two assignments for the semester: drafts of Chapters I and II of my dissertation. Now, while I’m not officially at the dissertation writing stage yet (there’s this thing called a comprehensive exam I still have to do in May and a proposal that I have to defend in the summer), my goal is to get as much down on paper now so I can speed through the process once the appropriate boxes are checked by my academic overlords.

I’m being cautiously optimistic (I’ve moved up my target date to May 2009) but have not officially changed my expected graduation date on my Facebook profile. Just in case.

Anyway, I’m trying to rebound from the intellectual self-abuse that I’ve inflicted and have turned my attention to a couple of things in the news lately, namely: baseball players on steroids.

In case it’s not completely obvious, I love baseball. I love the game itself—the achingly poetic snapshot of 20th-century Americana—and am easily exhilarated by its clichéd attractions: a pick-up game on a lazy summer day, the roaring, drunken crowds, the haute cuisine, the faithful hymn about being taken out to the ballgame. I’m a sucker for it all. I’d have a bedroom wall plastered with a photo mural of Fenway Park if I had $399. And if I were nine.

And while I’m a faithful and unashamed member of Red Sox Nation and am a proud supporter of the Pats, I’ve never really been a big fan of professional sports in general. Come to think of it, I’m really not that enamored with college sports, either. I think the intense commercialization of professional sports turned me off in the early 90’s (for some reason the NBA jumps out immediately), coupled with the hedonistic hijinks of many pro athletes that littered the news media. Today’s ADD-inspired news “coverage” of current sports-related scandals—ticker scrolls and all—only adds fuel to the fire. And although stories like Michael Vick’s appall me to no end, I’m hardly surprised anymore when I hear of current or former pro athletes committing some wacky shenanigan with strippers, or goats, or stripper goats.

And so it was with an ambivalent shrug (to wit: “eh”) that I reacted to the public outing of the ethically ambiguous individuals who made an appearance in the Mitchell report. I’m contemplating whether this reaction is the result of my jaded cynicism as a result of living in Washington, DC or because I’m resigned to expect some level of unethical behavior from professional athletes. Either way, it’s pretty sad.

(As a side note: I was a sophomore in college at the pinnacle of the McGwire-Sosa home run race. My roommate and I had a running tally on the dry erase board on our door. I even remember seeing a print ad that featured McGwire with a bat in one hand and a glass of milk in the other. He was probably drinking milk from the private dairy farm of Barry Bonds.)


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