When Remembering the Good Old A’s, Print the Legend

The most riveting news angle to the steroids crisis in baseball isn’t that it will alter the game in 2008 but that it fundamentally changes the past.

Yesterday’s congressional testimony won’t cause the scribes to tear up the front page, but to throw out the whole damn history book instead.

Miguel Tejada is the latest to dangle on the hook; it was his name being named and mispronounced from the lips of our duly elected in Washington. And it is he who will be flogged as baseball’s biggest (how much bigger?) liar and cheat from now until pitchers and catchers report.

So A’s fans, how do those division title stories go now?

“Yup, it was back in aught-one that Jason Giambi carried us on his (acne-encrusted) back and lifted us into the playoffs.”

Or maybe, “it was oh-two, when fiery shortstop (why so fierce?) Miguel Tejada brought us back to glory.”

Baseball loves history but doesn’t have much armor to protect it. The price for fucking with it is an asterisk. Somehow I can’t imagine Barry Bonds waking up screaming at night because of a punctuation mark.

But in the hearts and minds of hardball fans everywhere, the numbers imprint in your head. Aaron 756 home runs. …Williams a .406 batting average. … Gibson a 1.12 ERA. And with those numbers come stories that go with them. And that’s what the miscreants will lose – the story that won’t get told. In “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” the journalist character says, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” But when the fact itself is in doubt however, there is no legend. Over the past few years, A’s fans just gave up the story of Giambi. I’m guessing they will do the same for Tejada. Baseball’s coldest winter has had an icy grip, and it has reached back into the past and torched it.


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