I am a cynic. There’s no question about it. I come from a long line of cynics bred throughout generations of Scotch-Irish ancestry. But it kills me to be cynical about this. Sports in general, and baseball especially for me, is the one place where, cynicism be damned, I’m going to blindly cheer success stories, root for the underdog who suddenly finds success, and blindly hope at the beginning of the season that “this is our year.”
Unfortunately that blind hope is gone in baseball. Jose Bautista should be receiving round-the-clock coverage from sports writers. Last season he came out of nowhere and hit 54 home runs. This year he is again leading the league in home runs. Yet there is a cloud.
No matter how much success Bautista has, the thunderheads of doubt will continue to build above him. Just take a look at the numbers:
Career games (2004-2009): 575
Career home runs (2004-2009): 59
Career RBI’s (2004-2009): 211
Now the 2010 stats…
Home runs: 54
5 less home runs in 414 less games? The cloud builds. I would love to cheer the remarkable turnaround of a player whose previous career high in home runs was 16. I would love to be tuning in to ESPN everyday to see if Bautista hit another. But instead, the question lingers. How’d he do it?
While Jose Bautista may have every right to be angry at suggestions of steroid use simply based on performance, he shouldn’t direct that anger at the fans. He should be angry at Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, and a slew of others. He should be mad at those who soiled history, at those who crossed out the accomplishments of honest, hard working players, and those who left a black stain on the facade of history.
Bautista may look for the benefit of the doubt. But in this new world of cynical baseball, I say no way Jose.