It's hard to believe the 2011 major league baseball season starts on March 31. There are games in Cincinnati, DC, L.A., NY and St. Louis. There's a good chance there will be snow in at least one locale. The reason for the early start is to avoid playing World Series games in November.
Hope springs eternal every year at this time as all 30 teams are tied for first place. However, this year is different than any other. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, baseball’s biggest stars implicated in steroid use and arguably the best pitcher and hitter of the past 20 years, will face juries on opposite ends of the country. They have seven MVPs and seven Cy Youngs between them.
Bonds is scheduled for trial in U.S. District Court in San Francisco starting March 21 on four counts of making false statements to a grand jury and one count of obstruction of justice. Clemens is set to be judged in federal court in Washington, D.C., starting July 6 on three counts of making false statements, two counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of Congress.
Steroid use is a serious problem and could negatively influence young atheletes to follow in the footsteps of their idols. That is why the offenders need to be punished. However, we have to realize that the vast majority of the players do play by the rules. So, I want to bring some levity to the whole matter of what is the role of baseball in society and go back more than 20 years to perhaps the funniest baseball movie ever made -- Major League. And, guess who one of the stars was -- Charlie Sheen as renegade pitcher Ricky Vaughn. Vaughn's problem was he couldn't see the strike zone -- a major problem for a pitcher -- until his manager realized he needed glasses. After that, it was lights out for the hitters. Vaughn's aptly earned nickname of Wild Thing was played every time he was summoned to the mound. The Cleveland Indian fans cheered deliriously as Vaughn struck out batter after batter.
It is ironic to look back at Sheen's character in the movie and his recent rants. Oscar Wilde held in his 1889 essay, The Decay of Lying, that "Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life." How true this is in Sheen's case.