Well, The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville Nine that day; The score stood four to two with but one inning more to play. Then, there rose a lusty yell…For Casey, Mighty Casey was advancing to the bat.
In case you didn’t know, guys, these are lines of the classic 1888 baseball poem Casey at the Bat by Ernest Thayer… Mighty Casey, of course, was this big ‘folklorish’ figure who could consistently whack home runs until one tragic day in Mudville, with the game on the line, he struck out.
Well unfortunately, in recent years, many of the ‘Mighty Caseys’ of “America’s pastime” have been striking out… largely from scandals related to steroids…
Think Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and, most recently, “A-Rod” who was suspended for a staggering 211 games…
Wow, so how did we get to this point? I suspect that Money played a big role.
But I’m not just talking about the earnings of players. No, I’m also talking about the leagues and corporations who make millions from steroid-using players.
For example, you may forget that baseball was just about dead in1998, still hounded by the 1994 strike, until sluggers Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa started knocking balls out of the park at a record pace.
Though this historic season has since been tarnished by the steroid scandals of both players, baseball was saved and the money flowed once more, allowing other Mighty Caseys to step to the plate.
But think about the pressure on each Casey to perform given their sport could actually die if they don’t amaze us at the bat, or heal quick enough for fans.
Think about their choice, between being a star or a no-name in a game they love, support their families with, and where many others are cheating to catch or beat them.
Yes, they should not cheat and should be held accountable for their actions. no doubt about it. But what about the leagues themselves who turn a blind eye and collect millions until the whole thing becomes a problem?
Is this fair? All I’m saying is this: As a society, we often create monsters because we need them. So when that monster ultimately brings havoc to our land, as monsters do, we’d be cheating ourselves if we fail to recognize that someone created that monster in the first place.
I’ll leave you with Thayer’s final verse, which captures the current state of our national pastime and reflects the tragic nature of what we have become, in our own American Mudville”
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville, for mighty Casey has struck out.
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