Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Jack Clark...former SF Giant and STL Cardinal

Lately Will Leitch has been hitting the bullseye in his articles. And if they're about baseball there is a good chance I'll be sharing them with the readers of the Cha Cha Bowl blog.

In the 2/01/10 issue of Sporting News, Will's World had this to digest.

...I can only think about what it means to be 12 years old through the prison of how I felt when I was 12. It's different now. It's the same way my father didn't understand how I could play Nintendo when I was 12, the same way his father didn't understand how he could watch so much television, the same way his father didn't understand that newfangled radio. Everything is different and complaining about how Things Aren't the Way They Used to Be is a grand American tradition.

Which brings me to Jack Clark. In 1985, St. Louis' first baseman hit 22 home runs, which at the time seemed like the most home runs a Cardinal could possibly hit. Clark wasn't my favorite Cardinal-those were Ozzie Smith and Willie McGee, of course- but he was superhuman. Clarks stats have aged well. His walk rate and on-base percentage weren't appreciated at the time, but in a Moneyball age, we see he probably was better than we remember.

Clark blasted new St. Louis Cardinals' hitting coach, Mark McGwire, saying, "Just seeing him in uniform makes me want to throw up." As for other players who have admitted to steroids use: "They should all be in the Hall of Shame. ...They're all creeps. All these guys have been liars."

Jack Clark became the guy at the breakfast table, reading the newspaper, banging his fist, "What the heck's going on with this world?!"

You never see active players say any of this. They don't look to the past because they live in the present. It's not until their careers are over that they realize what they've lost, what they didn't appreciate, what others accomplished that they didn't. But this is precisely what fans do. Fans watch sports, in part, because they imagine how they'd do things differently if it were they playing.

Up until the last comment about fans imagining they were playing I was in total agreement of and couldn't have said it better. But as a fan I never thought of how it would be if I were in the majors. I realized early in life that I wasn't as talented as these players and just figured everything they did was to make them the best player they could be. That's why when I see a bitter Jack Clark statement about how the steroid era was filled with liars I don't think he understands.

Sure, he may not have "cheated" but you mean to tell me he didn't do anything to try and get an edge over his opponents? To what degree you cheat is not what is important. It's that you felt the need to do whatever it took to make you better. And if it made you better you would be paid accordingly. If the cost meant years of life, that would be something to seriously consider even though we all know nobody is guaranteed tomorrow.

I watch sports to see the best players participate. And I hope that one day those players put it all together for the team I root for most, the San Francisco Giants. I hope to one day see the Giants win a World Series title.

Kevin Marquez