I hate baseball.
The doping in sports, for me, hurts most in baseball. The pain had subsided in the past couple years. Now it is as sharp as ever.
The San Francisco Giants' Melky Cabrera was, until Wednesday, the latest savior for a city of fans whose franchise was deeply scarred by arguably the biggest steroid scandal in sports history. The Giants wiped the asterisks off their slate after Barry Bonds' departure and chalked up a World Series title in 2010. This season, with Cabrera as a hero, the Giants were scripting another playoff wonder year.
Now Cabrera is the newest scourge of anyone who believed in a once-beloved game.
Sure, some Giants fans will rebound with the next Buster Posey clutch double; but I won't. This Giants season is dirt to me.
I am not a teenaged naif having his heart broken for the first time by the realization that baseball players aren't perfect. I followed the BALCO case with every twist and turn it took.
And I know there's no reason to believe that other teams aren't as dirty as the Giants.
And I know there are other sports as dirty as baseball.
But one of the Giants' and baseball's best hitters was juicing, and it's disgraceful and pitiful.
And I don't even want to think of all the other baseball stories from this season that are too good to be true.
And I hate baseball.
It's not as if I even like baseball that much. I like college basketball more. And pro football. But the NCAA's leading scorer could get nabbed for doping tomorrow and the NFL's leading running back the next day, and I wouldn't hate those sports. I'm not so invested in them.
I grew up loving baseball more than anything else, and that's why I hate it. Players like Melky Cabrera are tearing up my 1968 Bob Gibson card. They're pulling down my poster of Carlton Fisk. They're spoiling my lazy afternoon listening to Steve Carlton throw a one-hitter.
But I also know I am going to be a baseball fan again. And soon. Not a Melky Cabrera fan, maybe not a Giants fan, but a baseball fan.
The most awesome baseball feat I ever saw on TV was Mark McGwire blasting shots over the Green Monster and into the Boston night during the Home Run Derby in 1999. The most awesome feat I ever saw in person was Bonds turning on a 100-mph Eric Gagne fastball and driving it out to straightaway center at the Giants' stadium in 2004.
I should have known better then and I know better now, but I still reflect on those moments with awe.
So when some born-again slugger stands in against some born-again closer to settle the World Series one way or the other 10 weeks from now, I'll watch every pitch. I'll eat up every ounce of euphoria and adrenaline and nerveless heroism.
And then maybe I'll hate myself for it.