I was reading this Bill Simmons column on the "purest" era of baseball, and while his thoughts were arbitrary, somewhat conflicting and based on little of anything that would make sense to any real baseball fan, it got me thinking.
Maybe the whole idea of purity in baseball is moot. Maybe we don't want purity in baseball.
Part of what makes baseball so great is the ridiculousness of the players. Darryl Strawberry and Doc Gooden almost ruining their careers with over-the-top partying, Graig Nettles "juicing" his bat with 6 superballs, Jason Grimsley crawling through an air vent to the umpires locker to swap out Albert Belle's confiscated corked bat. That kind of stuff is awesome.
It's like a bad episode of Salute Your Shorts over and over again. Except with everyone making millions of dollars and occasionally taking a break from off-the-wall camper antics to play a baseball game.
(See more crazy ways to cheat here.)
You can't tell me that every time a bat splits down the middle like it was struck by lightning that you don't honestly hope to see cork inside it.
And given the history of cheating that's surrounded the national pastime, maybe we shouldn't be in such shock and awe that the most recent generation of players has pumped themselves full of more steroids than farm cattle. Is that really any worse than swinging by the Dollar Tree, stocking up on rubber bouncy balls and stuffing them in your Louisville Slugger? It's certainly not as FUNNY, but when that's the precedent maybe it's only natural that the players have veered closer and closer to a look that's straight out of WWE. After all, weren't the rainbow metallic Ric Flair and Hulkamaniac stickers in the 25-cent vending machine right next to the Super Balls?