I am a fan of baseball. Have been, and will be.

Babe Ruth was a womanizing sleazy bum who has been wrongfully deified?  Pete Rose, that jerk, who bet on baseball… Charley Hustle, right?.  Charley Scumbag would fit better you say?  And good ol’ Shoeless Joe.  The Black Sox.

Spit balls.

Scuffing the ball.

Pine tar abuse.

Peds.  Hey Mark McGwire, thanks for your contrition!  Barry Bonds?  Hello?

The game I fawned over as a kid.  The baseball cards.  The players.  Progress now on women and integration overall.  I got to listen to Vin Scully for years on end.  Went to bed with the transistor radio playing next to me.  Vin was not describing a game, folks, hardly; Vin was telling lyrical stories of great emotion and spirit.  I heard it with my own ears, and felt it with my own heart,

The game I still fawn over.  The stories I love to tell, to hear, to share.

So today I go to a game, and I see moms and dads holding their kids’ hands, and I see kids who get a ball and the sun is right there in their smiles, and I see the Veterans who are feted, and I observe the agility of the players, and the rituals, and I love the game, and ok it takes too long, and I fret a bit and I criticize the Umps or the Manager or whoever, and I sway and get a tear in my eye during the Seventh Inning Stretch, and I love the story, the true story that the guys who wrote Take Me Out to the Ballgame had actually never gone to a game and did not so for quite some time later.

Baseball…  It is beautiful, and I love it and yes I have to stick my head in the ground on some of it, some of the stuff, and remain in denial, ok, yes, and I am still angry that Lou Gehrig, that Iron Horse, that incredible stalwart, was taken down by a debilitating illness.

But they had to steal signs?  They chose to cheat?

In the modern era no less.  This is the modern era, right?  They stole signs?  They cheated?  They play the game, they have the incredible, rare privilege of being on the field, being part of that universe that I can only watch, put my fingers up to the tv screen, all that out there, like visiting nature, like admiring the earth and stars and moon and sun… I can just watch from the grandstands, from the other side of the fence. And they are quite well paid.  They have analytics, and speed guns, and incredible mitts, and awesome trainers.

But they cheated?  They crapped on the game?  They snickered under their breath about how clever they were, and they robbed the game of its potential to be, to still be, pristine, to still be a Valentine for many of us?  And then they held the trophy up over their heads and gloated?

You have told me, I have read it, I now understand it… they stole signs.  They stole!  THEY STOLE!  Stealing is a crime.  People go to jail for stealing.  Even hungry desolate people, they get arrested, they get prosecuted.

I hope there is a special place in baseball Hell for the cheaters. How about a new Cooperstown for the cheaters?  Yes, indeed, a Hall of Shame.  How about it?  Or a wing at Cooperstown for the lesser, the ones who mocked our love for the game, who tried to take illicit shortcuts and got thrown out at the plate-of-life.  Got tossed and told to leave the stadium.  Don’t come back unless you have made up for it, and then some. Maybe a way to teach our kids what not to do.

Betray the beautiful game?  And no doubt you want us to forgive you some day?  Fine: Spend the rest of your God given lives giving back, and show it, wear it on your sleeves.  Wear it, own it, and show us virtue like you never knew possible.  Otherwise, strike three, you’re out, you’re out for good.