Welcome to Major League Baseball 2008: Let's Move On.
Catchy slogan, isn't it? They thought you'd like it. It's how they're living. It's how you're approaching this season. The only more fitting motto would be "What Mitchell Report?" Once again, as the teams open their seasons, ballparks will be packed, interest will be piqued and cash registers will be overflowing. As everyone from commissioner Bud Selig (contract now extended through 2012) on down has acknowledged, baseball continues to make money syringe-squeezing hand over pill-grasping fist.
Tell-all books, convictions of suppliers, internal investigations implicating all manner of players, executives and employees, indictments of one superstar and federal investigations of another - and to look at the game's loyalists, you'd think not only is it business as usual, but times have also never been better.
No backlash. No scars. No repercussions. No vows of vengeance for the betrayals, the lies, the fraud. Not even outrage, certainly not at the level of the post-strike days of 1995. You know, the strike that canceled the World Series and essentially prompted a desperate sport to look the other way on the means necessary to boost offense.
Let's Move On.
Today, rosters are dotted with players named in that report from last winter, and those players will be given a rousing welcome. Including here, this afternoon at Camden Yards. As of yesterday, there is no longer a chance that one such Oriole will be cheered by the sellout crowd today. But one other, one popular, far more productive one, definitely will be.
Last night at Washington's expensive new ballpark, President Bush threw out the first pitch to the Nationals manager, pinch-catching for the original choice, Paul Lo Duca - who was named in the Mitchell Report and who, in February, gave one of those vague "apologies" baseball's busted players have perfected.
Having Lo Duca involved in such a sacred ceremony might have embarrassed the president, whose 2004 State of the Union speech put baseball's performance-enhancing substance problem on America's front burner. Of course, it didn't seem to embarrass anybody that his father, the former president, called Roger Clemens, the pitcher said during his epic day of congressional testimony, to offer his support during those trying days.
But that hearing was a month and a half ago, and that first-pitch business is already old news. Let's Move On.
In San Francisco, the Giants don't open at home for another week. But when they do, they will do it at AT&T; Park, which rightly should be nicknamed "the House that Barry Built." Instead, it's the house the Giants want you to think Barry never played in. The organization that openly enabled his abuse of his power, privilege and, allegedly, lots of pharmaceuticals, has removed virtually every reminder that he not only played there for 15 seasons, but also chased and broke two major home run records there.
As one observer recently put it, "If it wasn't for him, they'd be playing in the Florida Suncoast Dome right now." That's not even a joke - it's a fact. Now, with the money the Giants made off him safely banked away and the 2002 National League pennant tied securely to its outfield pole, the place is getting Bonds-proofed.
Thanks for making us one of the richest and winningest franchises in baseball the past decade. But Let's Move On.
Backs are being turned on any potential fallout from the realities of steroids, the same way they were turned to their initial presence. In the public and in various segments of the media, there are references to steroid fatigue. To the government spending too much time and money chasing the likes of Clemens. To a second Jose Canseco expose as being a "distraction." To human growth hormone not really aiding performance after all. To everybody just being forgiven, because he said he is really, really sorry. To the real problem with hGH use being in everyday life and in entertainment, not in sports.
Baseball refuses to pay any consequences for what it has done. But why should it? Who out there is demanding any? Let's Move On.
Actually, there is one slogan that's an even more perfect fit: We Got Away With It Again.
Listen to David Steele on Wednesdays at 9 a.m. on WNST (1570 AM).