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Our Game -- Overcoming

By Pete Lieber

Maybe I’m biased. Maybe everything I’m about to write here stems from the euphoric cloud I’ve been swimming in since the weight of 25 years was lifted from the shoulders of Philly sports fans when the boys in crimson pinstripes took out the upstart Rays on October 29 of last year. Maybe, because of that night, that month, that season, my love of baseball can’t be deterred by the dark shadows shrouding the game. I have decided that I will not let the sins of an era take the game away from me, and it seems from my point of view, that the nation agrees with me.

The World Baseball Classic got underway this week, and it’s quite evident that on the international stage, the game still carries weight. But I began to ponder whether the game still had the same clout in its birthplace. In the wake of the steroid era, as more and more of our game’s heroes are revealed to be dishonest, is our national pastime still our national pastime? In a crippling economy, will the hardworking American still have interest in a game that many feel have cheated them through its ignorance of a problem as obvious as Michael Jackson's missing nose? The baseball fan is savvy. Don’t for one second believe that we didn’t know Barry Bonds was on roids. Don’t believe for one second that we didn’t know that McGwire and Sosa were juicing while they were saving the game in 1998. Don’t believe that we don’t know that you knew, Mr. Selig. And you did nothing about it. At least, that’s the way it looks.

But here’s the thing. I have a 3-month old son that I can not wait to teach a changeup. I can’t wait for him to see a 36-year old Ryan Howard go oppo in the 9th to give the Phils a lead. I can’t wait to show him old games with Mike Schmidt bare-handing perfectly placed bunts down the third base line, robbing would-be table setters. No matter how ridiculous baseball’s sideshows get, it will never take away what the sport means to me, and I believe that true baseball fans feel the same way. Hell, in this economy, attendance is up. New stadiums are still being built. TV coverage is rampant, highlighted by the sport’s own television network.

Of course there are going to be people who feel that somehow the game has personally wronged them, as if they had something greater than entertainment value invested in it. Those people need to get over themselves. It had nothing to do with you. The only people that have a right to be offended by the “cheaters” are people IN baseball. Roy Oswalt’s words ring true. If I played the game clean, it stands to reason that I should expect my piers to do the same. But even the baseball fan that still enjoys the game for what it is has to tip-toe through the mine field of derogatory media outlets who seemingly want to ruin the game for the real fan. To them I simply say, look away. Come here to, read me, you won’t hear the rhetoric of sportswriters who have never picked up a bat, or got cut from the team as early as the first year they could have played travel ball. These are the writers that spew baseball bravado by blasting the game from every angle to get back at it for not being good to them in their youth, and it’s just sad.

The point is this – now, more than ever, this country needs this game. We are, as a nation, a ball of stress ready to implode. We need an outlet that reminds us, as James Earl Jones once so eloquently put, “of all that once was good, and it could be again.” So entering this season, I would ask the cynics who are disgusted by the game to watch Chase Utley’s short stroke, watch Dustin Pedroia get dirty, be awestruck at the filth that David Price throws at his age. The game is still good, it just went through an era where its players got some bad advice, and risked it all through their lack of awareness. They suffered under a controlling body that saw all the offensive fireworks that were helping bring the game back into the national consciousness after the strike in 1994, and turned a blind eye.

The game is still good. If you don’t believe that, tune into ESPN on Opening Night, April 5, and check out the crowd at Citizen’s Bank Park, where the Phils will open the season with the Braves. Forty-five thousand screaming baseball fans will speak to the contrary.

Pete Lieber can be reached at:


  1. pete i'm with you... i really dont care about all of the nonsense... I love the game!! Ok I have Champiuonship Euphoria too but I never even cared yrs ago when teh Phisl were struggling and the Sosa, McGwire sagas went down...

  2. check

  3. Pete, thanks for the good article to get us ready for baseball 2009. Also, thanks for writing about the state of the game today without mentioning the name of that Jerk*** pitcher in Boston, that always has something to say. Although, I'm not sure Utley's short stroke never had any help from the juice.. we shall see. David Price is going to be Priceless!!!