Saturday, December 15, 2007

Oregon pitches strong examples of what baseball should be

When George Mitchell came out swinging with his 409-page report on performance-enhancing drugs used in professional baseball, he struck out on the most important point that should be made.

He did not recommend punishment for the 85 past and present players named as guilty.

If he's going to name that many players who have ties with teams from coast to coast, and so many past Cy Young and Most Valuable Player winners (15 out of 36 from between 1996 and 2004), then he needed to sternly declare they must be punished.

Instead, he leaves the choice to Commissioner Bud Selig who deserves blame himself for doing so little to clean up baseball in the last few years, even as evidence grew there was a problem.

Sadly, even if something is done it appears players will not be disciplined for their actions prior to Sept. 30, 2002. That was when baseball's management and union drug policy was introduced. Also, Human Growth Hormone wasn't banned until January 2005.

Perhaps the biggest blow to baseball will be what happens to its image among fans and more importantly, the next generation of potential players.

Mitchell's report listed Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Miguel Tejada, Andy Pettitte and so many others who have been seen as heroes for their accomplishments in batting, pitching and overall performance. Will people, especially kids, become disenchanted with baseball? Or worse, will these young players believe the only way they can compete and become stars some day is by finding ways to cheat in the future?

At a time when committees in Washington, D.C., and the baseball organizations themselves will be going through Mitchell's recommendations and attempting to deal with controversy, Oregon will stand out as a place of hope for others across the country.

Here we have some great examples of what baseball players can accomplish with hard work, solid skills, good sportsmanship, pride and most of all love of the game.

We have the Oregon State University Beavers baseball team which earned back-to-back national championships, with players from all over the state. They didn't do it for multi-million dollar contracts: Anyone watching the games could see these players love baseball and they played as a team supporting each other.

Then there's a brighter example of what Oregon can offer baseball's future: Jacoby Ellsbury of Madras.

Ellsbury, Navajo in ancestry, played with OSU's baseball team and was drafted No. 23 in 2005.

This past season, he became a World Series hero as he played for the Boston Red Sox. He fought with heart, determination and amazing skills as he became only one of three rookies in World Series history to smack four hits in a single game.

Forget Clemens, Bonds and others who have cheated their fans, shamed their teams and hurt the image of baseball forever.

We have heroes among us who will continue to show up on ball diamonds each season and demonstrate to the world why baseball deserves to be one of America's most popular sports - and earn back fans' respect and trust.

Technorati tags:

No comments:

Ag in the West social media watch

Capital Press videos on YouTube

Our most popular videos