Two clouds – one chemical, one unnatural – hang over baseball as this season begins. Of course, I speak of anabolic steroids and Red Sox Nation.
Now, you can legislate against performance-enhancing substances, but you can’t legislate against obnoxious New England fans (unless some type of standardized birth control is introduced to the greater Boston metropolitan area).
Here is the steroid situation, up to the minute:
Jason Giambi is the face of steroids but will not say the “S” word.
Mark McGwire will not say anything, including the “S” word, if it involves discussing the past.
Sammy Sosa will not say the “S” word in English but will gladly tell you, “Beisbol hacido muy, muy buena para mi.”
And Barry Bonds is so exhausted, if he were reciting the alphabet, he’d be too tired to get to “S.”
Meanwhile, Jose Canseco is roaming the countryside (and cable TV), finding human growth hormones under every rock, and Bud Selig is returning calls on a rotary phone while spit-polishing his Neville Chamberlain bobblehead doll.
Our grandparents enjoyed the summer of ‘41, we enjoyed the summer of ‘98. Or, as it turns out, they got the boys of summer, we got Rodents of Unusual Size.
And Barry, Barry, Barry – what were you thinking with this woman?
Kimberly Bell, who had a nine-year relationship with Bonds and plans to write a book, recently testified before a federal grand jury investigating steroids. If what she says is true, Bonds broke two basic rules of marriage.
1. Don’t cheat on your wife.
2. If you do cheat on your wife, don’t leave a trail of voice mail on the third party’s answering machine.
(Hey, I’ve done a lot of things wrong in my failed marriages and I know I’ll do the same things wrong in my future marriages, but I never wandered near infidelity. Like I’m going to attract a lot of potential mistress activity from the sofa, anyway.)
OK, let’s move on to Red Sox Nation.
Why all this angst from Boston sports fans in the first place? The Celtics won 11 NBA titles in 13 seasons and the Patriots have won three of the last four Super Bowls. So you all went a long time between World Series titles. Big deal. My Uncle Nathan once went 113 straight days at Yonkers Raceway without booking a winning session. Did he cry about it on sports radio? No. He simply ate a lot of Ramen noodles.
Next week, the Red Sox will hand out World Series rings at their home opener. It should be quite a scene at Fenway Park – you might think Indiana Jones was bringing back the lost Ark of the Covenant from Egypt.
Besides breeding young sports guys piling into Internet chat rooms trying to change the world one trade at a time, Boston has this sports writing community – save for the inimitable Bob Ryan – pouring forth with Red Sox rantings lengthier than the Dead Sea Scrolls. Here’s some of the work last year’s World Series has brought to bookstores:
“Why Not Us?: The 86-Year Journey of the Boston Red Sox Fans From Unparalleled Suffering to the Promised Land of the 2004 World Series,” by Leigh Montville.
“Emperors and Idiots: The Hundred Year Rivalry Between the Yankees and Red Sox, From the Very Beginning to the End of the Curse,” by Mike Vaccaro.
“Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season,” by Stewart O’Nan and Stephen King.
“Blood Feud: The Red Sox, the Yankees, and the Struggle of Good Versus Evil,” by Bill Nowlin.
“A Tale of Two Cities: The 2004 Yankees-Red Sox Rivalry and the War for the Pennant,” by Tony Massarotti.
“Red Sox Nation: An Unexpurgated History of the Red Sox,” by Peter Golenbock.
And opening this week in movie theaters is “Fever Pitch,” the story of how a man falling in love with a woman lets the Red Sox get in the way of the relationship. It might be 86 years before I rent that baby from Blockbuster.
Ask The Slouch
Q. I am not an economist and I don’t play one on TV, but I have been giving a lot of thought to your “Ask The Slouch” feature and the effort you put into each of your answers. What I want to know is, from the perspective of the economist (which, as I’ve already said, I am not, and some may argue this is more of a logic question than a question of economics, although money is involved so I stand by describing it as an economic question), assuming that you are paying $1.25 American for each question, and assuming you average four questions and four answers each week, and assuming one long question and a single payment would save Shirley considerable labor (the poor woman is probably not sufficiently appreciated, and by doing this for her, you would be in some small way showing your appreciation for her efforts without expending any effort of your own), would I qualify for the full $5 if I save you the trouble of answering three additional questions by giving you one lengthy entry? (Barry Reichenbaugh; Annandale, Va.)
A. I’ll pay the man, Shirley.