More than milk and spinach

Cover for nathanson: A People's History of Baseball. Click for larger imageThe Classical sports website has posted an excerpt from the recent University of Illinois Press book A People’s History of Baseball plus a Q&A with author Mitchell Nathanson.

The Classical: In your book, you talk about presenting “counter-stories” to the anodyne, mostly cheerful history of baseball that MLB espouses—for every Black Sox scandal that teaches a canned moral, there’s a Hal Chase; for every PED bust, there are steroid-era records that will never be asterisked or erased. What do you think some of the counter-stories of the future might be for baseball, or some of the issues that will shape how we see the future history of the game?

Nathanson: I think we’re in the midst of one right now: the Melky Cabrera “tainted” batting title story. As it becomes more and more likely that he’ll win the NL batting title, there’s going to be an ever-increasing push to strip it from him by whatever means necessary in order to protect the “integrity of the game.” Of course, this assumes that that PED story is a black-and-white one—involving “good guys” like Andrew McCutchen and “bad guys” like Melky Cabrera. The truth is that everyone and everything is shrouded in gray. I don’t know what McCutchen (or Derek Jeter for that matter) takes to enable him to hit consistently well over the course of a grueling season but I’m willing to wager that it’s more than milk and spinach. Those days are over (in fact, they never existed). The only difference between the so-called good guys and the bad ones is that the supplements taken by the alleged bad guys have been banned whereas the ones taken by the alleged good guys haven’t been—yet.

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