“I’ll Get You My Pretty, and Your Little Record Too!”
The Wizard of Oz, Pt. 2
Dorothy………......................America’s Pastime, Baseball
Toto………………....................Hall of Fame Records
Tin Man…………....................Barry Bonds
Flying Monkeys……………………Mitchell Report
Yellow Brick Road………………Fame and Fortune
After a devastating tornado had ripped through the country, leaving behind nothing but chaos and bewilderment, Dorothy wakes up to find herself stranded outside of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.
Dazed and confused she frantically searches for her loyal companion Toto. Muffled and faint, she still hears his barking and runs towards where it seems to be coming from. Unable to get inside the building, that she once called home, she runs around to a window where she can see Toto inside, out of harm's way.
With Dorothy in sight, Toto begins to jump up and down and perform tricks. Happily wagging his tail, he exits the building through the doggie door and jumps into Dorothy’s arms. With no luck Dorothy tries to enter the building through the doggie door and finds it has been mysteriously cemented shut. Neither she nor Toto can get back into the building.
There are two brick roads outside of the building. One is painted red and appears to be in need of repair. There are bricks missing and weeds have found room to grow within the cracks. The other is painted gold and appears to have been recently renovated. Every brick is in place and there are no signs of weeds within a mile.
Familiar with this road, Dorothy and Toto begin a journey to find other signs of life. Both of them hoping to find answers and get back to something representing normalcy, where things were simple and they both stood for something.
Further down the path, Toto begins to bark. Dorothy stops walking and listens closely to what sounds like voices in the distance. They begin to run towards the noise until they fall upon a disturbing sight.
There is a tall, strong lion flicking lit matches at a rundown scarecrow. The Lion is twice his size and has the scarecrow doing a dance in order to escape the flames on the matches. Observing the situation is a Tin Man. He stands far enough away to be seen, but not close enough to get involved. The Tin Man appears to be well-kept in his shiny armor. His demeanor is cold and uninviting.
When the three notice their new spectators, the Lion runs towards them with open arms, smiling from ear to ear. The Tin Man on the other hand approaches them, but with a blank stare and no traces of compassion. The Scarecrow sits on the ground where his fire dance had taken place and watches from behind.
Dorothy and Toto both experience déjà vu, flashing back to people they once knew who resemble the two characters. Dorothy, Toto, the Tin Man and the Lion all stand in a circle staring at one another.
There is an uncomfortable silence, until the Lion decides to break it with words.
Lion: You guys are certainly a sight for sore eyes!
Dorothy: I’m sorry, do we know you?
Lion: Aw come on! You know me! (Patting Dorothy on the back and rubbing Toto’s head) You know me, we go way back!
Dorothy: (Turning to the Tin Man who shakes his head in agreement dryly, then looks back to the Lion, she rolls her eyes) What are you doing out here? And why were you throwing matches at that Scarecrow?
Lion: (clearing his throat and speaking through adolescent type voice cracks) That’s just a game we play, he likes it, ask him and he’ll tell you (throwing an icy glare to the Scarecrow). As for us, we’re just out here hanging out. After the tornado came through we just thought we’d stay out here until things got back to normal, you know out of everyone’s way.
Dorothy: The tornado destroyed everything I own and I’m just looking to make some repairs. I can’t even get in my house! (Toto barks in agreement)
While Toto finishes his part of the conversation, the skies turn gray. It is as if there is another tornado coming, but there do not appear to be any funnel clouds in the sky. Suddenly they all begin to hear what sounds like a pack of wild monkeys.
Afraid of what is descending upon them, they each begin to run in separate directions. Dorothy scoops up Toto and runs for cover. In what seems like thousands, flying monkeys descend and one by one, Dorothy and Toto, the Tin Man, the Lion and the Scarecrow are grabbed by a monkey and lifted into the sky.
Fighting the monkeys seems pointless as they continue their flight. Below them, they can see that the monkeys are following the yellow brick road past where they were and further away from the building Dorothy once called home. After a flight that seemed to last forever, without beverage service, they begin to see a city in the distance.
As they draw closer they can see people below who begin to throw things at them. The on lookers are enraged and have unwelcoming signs with phrases like “Cheaters!” and numbers with big red asterisks next to them. Dorothy and Toto are both confused and concerned with the anger of those below them. However, the other three don’t seem phased.
In the middle of the city is a huge domed building that sits on a hill overlooking the inhabitants. The monkeys drop their packages on the steps of the building and stand guard until two large metal doors are opened and a demanding voice tells them to enter the building. The Lion runs directly into the building, followed closely by the scarecrow. The Tin Man stands strong outside of the doors, disobedient of the orders. With his hands on his hips and his chin high, he takes slow steps into the doors.
Dorothy, gripping Toto tightly walks to the doors, but before entering asks a question of the omnipresent voice.
Dorothy: Who are you?
Voice: You have no right to question me!
Dorothy: I beg to differ! Why have you brought us here?
Voice: I am the great and powerful Oz and I will not answer to the likes of you!
Dorothy: Well I am not coming in!
Voice: You will do what I say! The other three have been accused of wrong doing by the Flying Monkeys, and through associate you stand beside them!
Dorothy: I do not even know them!
Voice: Silence! You know enough and you will be questioned alongside your traveling companions!
Before Dorothy can get another word out, a man comes from behind the doors and puts his finger to his mouth to” shoosh” her. Dorothy knows who the man is and decides to follow his order.
The familiar face is Bud Selig, a co-worker of hers. As he gets closer to her, he puts a bandana around her mouth, then his own and leads her into the building. Once inside, they are greeted by a slew of others. Everyone has a scared look on their face as they sit on benches waiting to enter another room. They have all been brought here by the Flying Monkeys, thus making them a family of sorts.
Toto jumps out of the arms of Dorothy and runs to explore and inspect the other people in the room. The Lion and the Tin Man attempt to catch him, but he dodges them both. When the doors open, everyone stands up erect and alert. People can be seen spitting into their hands and patting down their hair. Their suits are wrinkle-free as they brush them out. There is not a hair out of place in here or a neck tie not perfectly tied. Their shoes are perfectly shined and the smiles that accessorize their faces are big with a hint of uncertainty behind them.
Dorothy begins to feel slightly undressed in her simple uniform she has worn since the early 1900s.
Voice: Send in Dorothy and her dog! As well as the shiny man, the big hairy one and his dancing companion!
Dorothy takes a deep breath, throws her shoulders back and walks confidently into the room. Following directly behind her, with less confidence are the men who got her in this situation.
Just as the doors are closing behind them, a man walks into their sight and winks with a smirk on his face. They each shoot him the ever popular derogatory finger and mouth the words “Pete Rose.” Once inside, they can see there are seats on every side of the room, going up ten to twenty rows.
Dorothy continues to stand strong, while the others are ducked behind her peeking from different sides.
Dorothy: Why have you brought me, well us here?
A wild uproar takes over the room. The crowd is appalled at her lack of respect.
Voice: Silence! You were brought here today because there are questions regarding you and your dog! Specifically your involvement with the three trembling idiots behind you! When the tornado swept through the country, it uncovered a lot of things that need to be investigated. The scarecrow had needles, drugs and blood belonging to the Lion. Now the Lion needs to address that and the accusations made by the Flying Monkeys. The Tin Man is here because we have reason to believe he has lied to us in the past, and we don’t take kindly to liars!
Dorothy: Again, what does all of this have to do with me?
Voice: An investigation into all of them led us to you and your dog! The Lion and Tin Man have pictures with you dating back many, many years.
As if hit with a memory brick, Dorothy turns to the Lion and Tin Man and realizes she does know both of them. She entertained them as children and nurtured them as adolescents. She challenged them as teenagers and played alongside them in their early professional careers. However, over the past few years had lost contact with them. Her mouth dropped at the men she saw before her, their appearance was different than she remembered.
With a bowed head, she turned back to face the crowd.
Dorothy: I do know these men who stand behind me, or the men they once were. (Sighing deeply) I do not know what they have done, but I can say that the Lion and Tin Man were once friends of mine.
Voice: I want to assure you that you have done nothing wrong, but you are about to get a mandatory extreme makeover and your dog is going to be de-wormed.
A woman in a white coat enters the room to pry Toto out of Dorothy’s arms and takes him through another door. His yelping gets fainter and fainter until he can not be heard at all. Through another door Tye Pennington enters the room with a camera crew and takes Dorothy out on his shoulders. Standing there without Dorothy, all three men are exposed to the crowd. The Scarecrow steps forward waving his arms.
Scarecrow: Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to say…
Voice: I think we are all tired of hearing from you! Guards, take him away!
The large metal doors fly open and in walk the Flying Monkeys. The Scarecrow tries to fight them off initially, but realizing his strength is nothing in comparison he turns limp and is dragged from the room. Where there was once one woman, three men and a dog, stand two men who look at one another and take deep breaths. Standing back to back, they slowly turn to see everyone who is staring directly at them.
Voice: And what do the two of you have to say? With everything stacked up against you, do you now wish to tell the truth?
In Unison: We stand strong on our testimonies that we have never used illegal substances in order to further our careers in professional baseball. The allegations are false!
The room bursts into another uproar of yelling and laughter. A gavel can be heard trying to silence the room. When there is complete silence in the room, the Lion and Tin Man begin to sense trouble.
Voice: We will get you! We will find a way to strip you of everything you have! You will be further humiliated and embarrassed! We will not stop until we have destroyed everything you stand for! Guards, take them away!
In walk more flying monkeys who dress the Lion and Tin Man in scarlet baseball jackets adorned with flashing asterisks on the back.
When you live in a society that casts more votes for the next American Idol than for the presidential election, it is no wonder that Bonds and Clemens have also been cast for the role of Sarah Proctor in The Crucible. Bonds and his “accidental” run-in with steroids has become the forefront of news, and Clemens and his ex-trainer have become all but a circus act.
However, much of this scrutiny goes beyond the tales of steroids and careless trainers.
Bonds has never made the top of the beloved athletes list. Therefore, fans have not been willing to accept that a player they do not like broke the record set by someone they adore. Bonds came into the game a phenomenal player with a bad attitude. The bad attitude is what got him into the mess he is in now.
But the question still remains, is all of this media hype and government hearings really necessary?
There has not been a day to go by that the sports world has not mentioned some negative aspect of either story. Clemens and McNamee have been doing a song and dance on CNN, MSNBC, FoxNews and every other hard news outlet. The media has yet another scapegoat to ride into the sunset. Scandals sell and that’s all that matters.
Major League Baseball has had problems with steroids for years. This is not something that is new in the world of sports. Players have found the loopholes and the ins and outs of experimenting with performance enhancement drugs for years. In the past, if a player was caught they got the proverbial slap on the wrist and a stern finger wagging from their coaches and general manager.
However, that speech was probably more along the lines of “Silly rabbit, I can’t believe you got caught!”
Steroids do give some athletes an advantage, and should be banned across the board, but they can’t turn Steve Urkel into Brian Urlacher. They are a performance enhancer; some kind of talent has to reside there first.
Bonds, steroids or not, would have eventually flirted with Aaron’s record. It may not have been as early as June 2007, but he arguably would have come to this point one way or another.
Bud Selig, the Major League Baseball Commissioner, is on a crusade to make an example out of players who test positive for any enhancers. At the end of the day, he should be taking a strong stance on the matter because for far too many years it was something everyone turned a blind eye to, namely him.
However, it is impossible to go back and test players. Bonds and Clemens could have used steroids one time or one million times, but there is no way of telling because there was not a stern drug testing policy in place then. From now on it will forever be a dispute among debaters in sports bars and among friends.
Alongside the question of whether or not O.J. is guilty, will be whether or not Bonds and Clemens deserves their spot in history.
Some sports aficionados and fans would like to see Bonds' name with have an asterisk next to it in the record books. Is that fair, since there really is no way of telling how many of his home runs, if any, were due to him using steroids. Especially considering a “positive” drug test from 2000 has miraculously now surfaced in 2008.
At some point all the bad-mouthing has to stop because Bonds and Clemens, like them or not, are great baseball players with a lot of natural physical strength.
Though I have contributed yet another article devoted to Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, the hype is getting quite dull. How many ways can someone say, “He’s a cheater,” or “He doesn’t deserve this.” What’s new there?
In the words of the late great Johnnie Cochran, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”
In other words, call off the witch-hunt to resurrect past wrongs and focus on the future. Play ball!