Opening day might be Greek to you
But it's just a guy from Oklahoma to me
We'll briefly return to 1986. Baseball season is about to open in the
Metrodome, where every day is kind of a dreary fall afternoon.
Three hours before game time the Oakland A's are stretching in unison on the
floor of the Dome.
This stretching is not the random, "I'm done playing cards"
progression of events that's so common at ball yards across this great land of
ours. This stretching routine is the U.S. Olympic Water Ballet Team or, for you
older folks, a scene from a Busby Berkeley musical.
A's Manager Jackie Moore had decided the team suffered too many
injuries the previous year, so the A's hired a carnival contortionist, or
perhaps it was some nubile dancer from a gentleman's club, to lead the team
through these stretches.
A preview of Canseco's behavior
Duh-oh. Demeter fusses over lost kid.
A's outfielder Jose Canseco isn't even trying.
All the veterans are extending those hamstrings, but the lanky rookie is
kneeling, propped up by a bat as he gazes around at the majesty that is the
Metrodome, a ball yard that clever architects designed to resemble a football
It's clear the 21-year-old Canseco has been, for some time, excused from the
rudiments of life in which most engage.
Moore has emphasized his innovative stretching regimen to the media as the
A's proceed down a zig-zag path to the World Series - where they will arrive
next season after Moore gets axed in favor of law school grad Tony La
Despite the publicity about the stretching program, it doesn't dawn on
Canseco how his bold indifference makes Moore look - or if it does dawn on
Canseco, he does not care.
After the California Angels win the division this season, Minnesota and
Oakland will begin a half-decade streak of American League Championships.
Minnesota will accomplish this without steroids, to the best of anyone's
Steroids=no crying in baseball
A couple decades later - after a career of being ostracized by teammates for
his attention-getting behavior, after a career of antagonizing fans so much
that one day paying customers at Yankee Stadium tossed garbage on him - Canseco
does a rumba across the noggins of baseball executives.
A book with his name on it is published just as the season is about to
begin. The book reveals that the A's won their titles with a few guys who
All hell breaks lose.
Word of steroids in baseball reaches members of Congress where there is
Or is it a publicity opportunity?
Anyway, some strip miner from North Dakota who is masquerading as a
politician suggests the single-season home run title that belongs to an accused
steroid user revert to Roger Maris, or at least to Josh Gibson,
who hit 62 home runs in a two-month barnstorming tour played on fields the size
of a high school gymnasium.
Bud Selig, baseball's commissioner for life, should have responded
with the obvious fact that pitchers can buy a syringe, too.
"You don't think all these pitchers are returning from hinge surgery
and throwing five miles an hour faster because of better suture, do you?"
Bud could have asked.
This at least would make people consider that there might have been cheaters
on both sides of the baseball, and maybe some of these hitting accomplishments
aren't so out of whack.
But Bud's not even smart enough for that, and steroids receive
round-the-clock CNN coverage as baseball season nears.
Alas, opening day arrives. Everyone is talking about people named Adam
Dunn and Richie Sexson. These are names to make people forget about
And once again people realize you can sew a scarlet letter on a big-league
baseball jersey but it always comes off in the spin cycle.
Baseball shakes off these wintry frosts because of Demeter, the earth
goddess loved by rural and city folks alike.
Never a great fielder, the official scorer gave Demeter an E-8 in regard to
her daughter, Persephone; a costly error that allowed Hades to carry Persephone
to the hoary netherworld.
Demeter and Hades eventually worked out a player-to-be-named later deal so
Hades would keep Persephone for five months of the year. That's the five months
when nothing grows, Demeter pouts and munches through Dr. Phil.
It's the time when people are forced to watch hockey, football and
As good as it gets
Spring is when Demeter gets custody of Persephone, stuff blossoms and people
forget about things like Jose Canseco getting someone to write a book for him
largely because he dislikes being yesterday's news.
Baseball even produced it's own Demeter, but one with better hands.
The game trotted out Don Demeter, a long-necked, 6-foot-4 Oklahoman
with a little pop in his bat and a soft pocket in his glove. He once set a
big-league record by playing 266 games in the outfield without making an error.
Don Demeter is over 70 now. For longer than that, when opening day rolls
around, carrying new energy. Solar waves flow through us.
And Demeter has a big smile on her phiz.