Doug Glanville, on Melky Cabrera, Pete Rose and our game.
This is why I never bought one of the arguments in support of Pete Rose regarding his ban from baseball and the Hall of Fame for gambling on the sport. In comparing him to some of the less admirable men who were in the Hall, the argument goes that gambling was less offensive than, say, Ty Cobb’s racism. But gambling destroys the game itself, to its core. People question if what they see is real because anyone and everyone could be on the take. Was that error intentional? Was that strike really a ball? Cobb reflected a culture of his times, one that through today’s lens, seems disturbing and unfortunate, even dangerous. But the game can shrug that off. Cobb was not baseball. His opinions and prejudices were his own and at times, aligned with those of his times. But gambling on the game is considerably bigger. It brings into question every play, every player and his ability to directly influence the game. It changes the game from pure competition to patronizing choreography. Once revealed, doubt becomes certainty.
Reasonable doubt is doubt that makes us believe that something could have happened to support the possibility of innocence. That’s how Ryan Braun was exonerated. But the true danger is in spiritual doubt. The kind of doubt that creates an existential threat to the game. The day when a critical mass of fans decides that the game is really an incubator of these problems, that it celebrated these transgressions, allowed and even supported them — on that day the game is irreversibly at fault. “Reasonable” becomes certain. That will be a day that will change the game forever. Maybe even end it.
I would like to think that will not happen, that the game will remain bigger than any individual, that it can retain its aura of divinity and thrive through the very human acts of its participants. Maybe the game can absorb Cabrera as it has done with a litany of marquee players before.
Still it is probably safe to say that no currency, no matter how magical, is infinite. Eventually, enough players, or a certain kind of player, could send the game downhill, brakeless and irretrievable. We could reach that point where one player’s choice is the final, and fatal, element of doubt that creeps into the game.
I hope we never get there.
Posted: August 18, 2012 at 12:29 AM | 18 comment(s)
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