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Commentary Last Updated: Dec 17th, 2007 - 00:47:28

America�s favorite pastime: winning!
By Jerry Mazza
Online Journal Associate Editor

Dec 17, 2007, 00:45

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Vince Lombardi, the great Packers football coach once said: �Winning isn�t everything. It�s the only thing.�

Lombardi uttered the words early in �59 in his first pep talk at a Green Bay training camp. It came back to haunt him over the years, until he recanted, �Winning is not everything, but making the effort to win is.� Okay, Vince, more PC, less kick-ass. And America took the first words to heart. And so did any amateur and pro player that played any big-time game, from football to our favorite pastime, baseball, which has been especially good to winners!

So it is it any wonder, Senator Mitchell, that la cr�me de la cr�me as well as la cr�me de la merde of baseball and other big-time sports took performance-enhancing drugs? Isn�t it the ethos of the culture? Have any fans besides Brooklyn Dodger fans ever come to see their team tank, even if it was grained in the seats they sat it? Win, man, win! That�s what it�s about. And not just in baseball, but in business, art, science, government, war, and love, Winning is us.

I mean, who loves a loser? Really. And who loves a winner? I saw most of my generation in the ad business get blotto at lunch on whatever came out of a bottle, or what you could roll up in a little cigarette, or cut up into lines on your desk and snort. And it wasn�t just the creative guys. It was the suits. They were even worse. But to all, it was about having the performance-winning edge, the big idea that led to cold hard cash, the biggest office, the best babe, the biggest pad on Park Avenue, the biggest house in Scarsdale, etc. It was about winning. Winnnnnn-ing, you dumb mo-fo! The cash, the awards, the whole enchilada. Was it crazy? Yes, of course. Did it go away when I did? No. Of course not.

So now, despite insider trading, despite phony subprime mortgage lending, despite the fact that 9/11 was an inside job, despite the fact that the rich try to screw the poor at every turn, despite all those performance-enhancing drugs, despite the fact to be poor is to be a loser, that to be second is to be last, everybody is shocked. For 20 years, no maybe 30 years, Roger Clements, white boy; Barry Bonds, black boy; Jose Canseco, Hispanic boy; Jason Giambi, Italian boy; Mo Vaugn, Miguel Tejada, and every bench player who could afford it, was roided. Duh, what makes Sammy run? You tell me.

Bush bought the Supreme Court with a job to Scalia�s son at Traurig Greenberg�s legal firm, his and Jeb�s lawyers. Did he win the 2000 World Voting Series fair and square? Not. Did he and his legions not hack the 2004 vote to turn himself from a predicted loser to a guaranteed winner! Unhuh? What say you? A guy who still can�t say nuclear is a winner? Every lie, every phony war he makes, every turn of the screw to punish the working classes and feed the rich; they all make him the WIN-AH, ladies and gentlemen, CHAMPEEN OF THE WORLD! What was his performance-enhancing drug aside from coke and booze, a rich powerful father and all the �connections� a human being could want. So who�s kidding whom? Same shit, different day.

Is there a better or worse example than Junior? Nein! Except Hitler, burning down the Reichstag to blame the commies, in order to get rid of the old legit President Hindenburg and claim victory for the National Socialist Third Reich. So it goes. The whole world loves a winner. Deutschland uber alles! America the world�s Superpower! It should be souper-power. Because there�s plenty of soup in the power, like depleted uranium in the bombs, shock and awe on non-military populations, torture at Abu Ghraib; waterboarding at Guantanamo. Steroids for Blackwater. WIN WIN WIN, SIS BOOM BAH! Cook it up, baby, cook it up!

Those Damn Yankees

Is it any wonder, you mindless pineapple, Mitchell, droning on like a defrocked priest about widespread wrong-doing, a whore on every team, et cetera, that the pressure on the average athlete to win, to hit, to pitch, to bring in the titles, the bucks, the crowds, is enormous. Ever heard of the musical Damn Yankees? As Wikipedia describes it, �A long-suffering, middle-aged fan of the Washington Senators baseball team, real estate salesman Joe Boyd, suddenly meets a slick salesman, Mr. Applegate, who is in reality, the Devil.

�Joe is sold into selling his soul to the Devil to become a young and strong slugger Joe Hardy, the �long ball hitter the Senators need that he'd sell his soul for.� He leaves his wife Meg (�Goodbye Old Girl�). But, Joe puts in an escape clause that gives him the chance to return back to his normal life -- he has until a designated time to declare his intention to return home.

�Meanwhile, the hapless Senators are vowing to play their best despite their failings (�Heart�). As the young Joe is suddenly discovered, a reporter named Gloria praises him (�Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, Mo�). His hitting prowess enables the Senators to move up the ranks.� And so it goes. Read it to see how it all comes out in the end. But I�ll tell you this. Joe ends a winner, even if he was a loser. After all, it was a Broadway smash!

And where does Damn Yankees come from? Every heard of Faust, the Faust legends, the guy who sells his soul to the devil to become a winner, whose pride and vanity eventually lead to his doom. This truck and bus myth has been driven through literary, artistic, film, and musical masterpieces, by the likes of Christopher Marlowe, Goethe, Thomas Mann, Berlioz, Liszt, Oscar Wilde, William Gaddis and Charles Gounod. And so on.

In fact as Wikipedia tells us again, �The name �Faust� has come to stand for a charlatan alchemist (some claim �astrologer and necromancer�) whose pride and vanity lead to his doom. Similarly, the adjective �Faustian� has come to denote acts or constellations involving human hubris which lead eventually to doom.� And the myths of Faust dive back into 16th Century European literature. So, alas, it wasn�t only US that thought of it. Our Euro corrupto forbearers had it on their minds. Enhance the performance, do it baby like it�s never been done before. So what if you cut a few legal corners? So what if you bevel the level playing field?

And where did they get the idea from? Why from the myth of Prometheus, the brother of Epimetheus, who �was the Titan god of afterthought, the father of excuses. He and his brother Prometheus were given the task of populating the earth with animals and men. However, Epimetheus quickly exhausted the supply of gifts allotted for the task in the equipment of animals, leaving Prometheus' masterpiece, mankind, completely helpless. As a result the Titan brother was forced to steal fire from heaven to arm them.

�Zeus was angered by this theft and ordered the creation of Pandora, the first woman, as a means to deliver evil into the house of man. Despite the warnings of his brother, Epimetheus happily received her as his bride, but as soon as she arrived she lifted the lid of a jar entrusted her by the gods, releasing a plague of harmful daimones (spirits) to trouble mankind. Only Hope (Elpis) remained behind to succor the unfortunate race.� Thank god for Elpis (Elvis?)

Here, the performance-enhancer for humanity is the gift of fire, literal and figurative. �Get out there and show some fire, baby, burn them over the plate.� �Burn one over the fence.� Did you see that liner �burn down the line?� �Um, it�s heating up in Fenway. The Yankees look hot.� Gimme the light, bro. Gimme some help, god. Gods. Oh, Pandora, lead me to the juice. Which brings me to my next subject, having established the eternal (not just American) wish to win by any means available.

What about the devil as tempter?

I mean the guys who supply the steroids, the human growth hormones, the high red-cell-count-blood that you can inject into your arms, etc., to kick your bike up that last hill, Lance, leaving the roadways lined with dead syringes. Anybody listening? This is a major industry. And why are Father Mitchell and Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig not talking about that industry, the millions made producing this crap, not just for pros, but kids, teenagers, stoners, freaks of all kinds.

From Pressure Builds on China Over Steroids, Washington Post writers Maureen Fan and Amy Shipley, tell us, �In the fall, U.S. authorities announced a massive raid against underground suppliers of steroids, human growth hormones and other performance-enhancing drugs. Investigators had cast their net wide, arresting 124 people in 27 states. But to determine the origin of steroids, investigators had to look to only one place: China.� Ye-ah, Chin-a! Let�s hear it. Chin-a, ste-roids. Chin-a, ste-roids!

�Since at least 2005, when a U.S.-led crackdown crippled Mexico�s steroid industry, Chinese firms have been supplying the vast majority of the steroids sold over the Internet, according to U.S. law enforcement officials. Those steroids are used by a wide range of athletes, from amateur bodybuilding to top-tier professionals.�

The Post got a list of 37 Chinese companies that American investigators identified as being involved in the crooked steroid business. And so on. The government of the Great China-Mart said, �Vague laws left unclear exactly what was illegal.� Okay, so it�s a semantic problem, how to define what�s legal. Get to it, Mitch. Don�t arrest the smokers. Get some tort litigation going like John Edwards did against the tobacco companies. That was the paradigm that made him a presidential candidate. Could work for you, too. Bring it home, baby. Thus . . .

The Chinese FDA announced in November 2007 a five-agency investigation and plan to �standardize� production and distribution of steroids.� So it�s on them, and you guys in the Senate to step up to the plate and get the job done. Knock off the dealers. Don�t just bust the junkies, the smokers, the great athletes that make baseball a great game. Otherwise I think you�re nothing but a headline-grabber trying to bust the best in de ball game. As a matter of fact, how about some litigation or sanctions aimed at the Chinese companies or government profiting from this. Do we not want to rock the money boat?

Remember the Olympics are coming up. And guess who�s going to be roided out of their spikes? Yes, the Chinese Olympic team, next coming to the Bronx, Fenway, or a stadium near you to kick your winners� butts. Oh, I exaggerate, of course. But put it on The Man, De Man, who�s really setting the table for disaster. Or else, gimme my baseball. And if those guys in the dugout are too girly to go out on the field straight, clean, like squeaky clean and play their best game straight up, they deserve whatever�s coming to them. And right now, that�s the steamrolling wrath of the hypocrites, which can be bad, bad news on any day.

So, let�s cut the ball-bull sports writers and pontiffs! Let�s stop picking on just the users, though they should get some Faustian knocks. Let�s go for the throat of the devils selling this crap. And lastly, Let�s PLAY BALL! That is, before we drown in a flush of words.

Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer living in New York. Reach him at PS: A-Rod wasn�t worth a bullpen, even though he�s clean.

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