NORMAN — The day Pete Hughes was introduced as Oklahoma’s new baseball coach, I found myself having a conversation with Larry Cochell for the first time in too long.
I asked him if he watched baseball on television. He said he did. I told him that I wish I still could, but it seems that I can’t. It’s a character flaw, I’m pretty sure.
Blame the genius of Pete Rozelle and Paul Tagliabue or the instantaneous age we live in, but I’m convinced baseball couldn’t be invented today with much fanfare or success.
Indeed, it’s likely a tribute to past dominance and the mythology built around it that continues to prop the game up in second or third place on America’s athletic landscape.
Also, it is a nod to that history that demands Major League Baseball continue to do everything it possibly can to rid itself of performance enhancing drugs and performance enhancing drug users.
Even if it means suspending Alex Rodriguez for the rest of his natural born life. Even if it means robbing Texas of Nelson Cruz for the rest of the season. Even if it means stealing Bartolo Colon from the wonderful story that’s again the Oakland Athletics or robbing the Tigers of shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who’s hitting .308 and slugging .460.
It’s a funny thing when so many commentators explain baseball’s tragedy of the moment, that in the middle of a fine season, with terrific races and great stories, that the game is nonetheless suffering “another black eye.”
Every day is a good day to clean up the game. Every day is a good day to underline baseball’s connection to its glorious past, something the game should never be ashamed to wrap itself in.
Football may have the violence most Americans crave and basketball may claim the most athleticism, but neither has one fifth of baseball’s history and that history has to be protected and the best way to do that is to be forever vigilant in the moment.