Gotta At Least Ask the Question
|Richard Griffin asks: Why is it just baseball that falls under suspicion?|
For the following unpopular question, blame Major League baseball and all the nonsense it has spewed over the past decade.
Don't blame me.
When it comes to Jose Bautista, how is it exactly that at the age of 29 he's suddenly become the most dangerous power hitter in baseball?
Chance? Healthy living? Diet? New contact lenses? Comfortable batting gloves?
Anyone reading about the Roger Clemens perjury case this week, which of course brings up all of baseball's tawdry steroid history, should at least be willing to wonder about Bautista's sudden transformation into the dinger king.
This is a player, don't forget, who never hit 20 homers before in a Major League season. Some of that was due to a lack of opportunity,although in 532 at-bats in '07 he managed only 15 round trippers.
As of Sunday morning, he had 38 homers, six more than the great Albert Pujols, seven more than Miguel Cabrera and Adam Dunn.
Really? Quite a story, huh?
Makes one remember Brady Anderson, who went from 16 homers to 50 and then back to 18 right smack dab in the middle of baseball's steroid problem.
Things happen in baseball, I guess.
The great news for Bautista is that these numbers will surely net him an enormous increase on his current $2.4 million salary when his contract expires. That would motivate any player to find a way to improve his stats.
The Blue Jays, we know, have quietly become known as a bit of a nest for alleged steroid abusers over the years. Clemens played here. Gregg Zaun has been implicated. Ditto for Troy Glaus.
And now comes Bautista. Blue Jay fans will, of course, angrily respond to the suggestion that everything isn't on the up-and-up, just as I remember getting bushels of bitter emails from baseball fans when questioning Mark McGwire's open use of androstenedione back when he was smashing Roger Maris' record.
My favourite line was always how steroids couldn't help a baseball player hit home runs. Too funny.
Maybe Bautista is just one of the great individual stories in baseball this season. This could be his career year, and he could deserve nothing but credit and praise.
But the fact is that baseball's history, and the Nixonian way in which the Selig administration and the players association have chosen to deal with the steroid issue over the years, should compel any intelligent person to wonder when a player suddenly starts displaying abilities never before seen in his career.
Blue Jay fans won't like it. But you've got to at least ask the question when it comes to Jose Bautista.
For the fact that we do, blame baseball.