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Is Baseball Losing Its Heart?

Miguel Tejada. © Rubenstein, photographer Mart...

Image via Wikipedia

(Photo: Miguel Tejada)

This season baseball fans have been witness to a sad spectacle as Jorge Posada, Yankee catcher for over 15 years and undoubtedly in his final year as a pro, was first thrown out of the catchers’ position and then taken out of the lineup indefinitely. Fortunately, the fans went crazy supporting Posada with standing ovations and signs professing their love, so he’s occasionally allowed up at bat now. But it’s been disheartening to see a long-time loyal team player be roughed up and unappreciated.

Last week the SF Giants dumped Aaron Rowand and Miguel Tejada for lackluster season performances. Being older veterans of the game, chances are they’re not going anywhere else. Tejada is an icon of major league baseball, a kid who rose from abject poverty in the Dominican Republic to become a great shortstop beloved by teammates and fans alike. His story is so emblematic of the DR kids who eat, sleep, and breathe baseball in hopes of making it in America one day as a player that several children’s stories and bio’s have been written about him. For his rags-to-riches story to end like this is sad. Sad and shameful.

Baseball is known for swimming in sentimental swill over everything from the American flag to the retirement of an announcer. While it can sometimes be a bit much, we’ve come to expect regularly scheduled sobfests on the diamond; I for one usually find myself caught up in whatever event is being milked for all it’s worth. Given this propensity for emotion, it seems strange and cruel that someone like Miguel Tejada should go out on such an ignominious ending. And despite an extensive search I could find no sports writers expressing regret or sadness about it; almost everyone is cheering the Giants for “finally” making the decision to “get rid of dead weight.”

Could baseball be losing its heart as it continues down the path of greed and wins at any cost? Is it going to become a game where the bottom line is produce or get lost? Of course, it already is; but will it get even more heartless? After all, this is the sport with “Ya Gotta Have Heart” as one of its most famous anthems. The sport in which most teams host an annual old-timer’s game, during which guys who played 30 or more years ago toddle onto the field to weakly throw a pitch and get wildly applauded. This is the sport that honors its human resources.

Let’s hope Posada, Tejada, and Rowand get more of a farewell than they’ve been shown so far, and that baseball starts wearing its heart on its sleeve again.

Ya Gotta Have Heart

You’ve gotta have heart
All you really need is heart

When the odds are sayin’ you’ll never win
That’s when the grin should start.

You’ve gotta have hope
Mustn’t sit around and mope
Nothin’s half as bad as it may appear
Wait’ll next year and hope.

When your luck is battin’ zero
Get your chin up off the floor
Mister you can be a hero
You can open any door,
there’s nothin’ to it but to do it

You’ve gotta have heart
Miles ‘n miles n’ miles of heart
Oh, it’s fine to be a genius of course
But keep that old horse
Before the cart
First you’ve gotta have heart

“Heart,” from Damn Yankees

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