Professor Nutbottom:

Baseball has been so lax in testing for
steroids, Congress recently threatened to step in if they don't
institute a more stringent drug-testing policy. I always thought
baseball didn't need to test, because it's just such a clean sport. I'm
crushed to find out otherwise. Why are baseball players stooping to
that level?

Marty, Chicago

Dear Marty:

You sound like a really nice guy. And you're right. Baseball is rooted in being a really nice, clean sport.

But the scandal with steroid use in the major leagues has been a wake up call to all of us. We are in crisis.

problem is that the benefits of steroid use outweigh its penalties. So
the solution is simple. Take away the benefits, eliminate the steroids.
Are you tracking with me? Since you are such a nice person, I just want
to make sure I'm not getting out ahead of you.

And so what do we need to take away?

It's that simple. Winning. That's all you hear. Winning, winning,
winning. Baseball has developed an undue emphasis on winning.


don't know how far back you go with baseball, but I go way back. I'm
basically the fan's Fan. And baseball didn't start out being about
winning and losing. It started out as just a bunch of guys hitting a
ball around, tossing the old rubber core back and forth, hanging with
buddies. Sure there were winners and there were losers. But no one was
paying attention. Everyone was just having a good time.

Then, we
had the 80's. You know, voodoo economics and let's make a quick buck.
And somehow, without anyone really noticing, baseball morphed into a
monster that was all about winning and losing. Since that time, the
pressure to win grows more intense every year. To some, it seems to
serve the game well. But it's a facade. Behind that silky smooth
exterior of winning and losing, lies a tangled mess of disappointment
and despair, doldrums and downheartedness, dastardliness and drugs.

day untold numbers of players spend tremendous energy in pursuit of a
dream - a dream to make it to the World Series. And every day, for most
of them, their dream crumbles a little more.

Then, after a
season of struggles and strife, sorrows and sadness, skepticism and
soreness, reality hits - there will be no time in the Big Series for
them. Their aspirations crash on the rocks of shattered dreams, hounded
by the ghosts of roaring waves of national obscurity.

But the
league does not need to operate this way. If baseball could just give
up the notion that winning is everything, baseball could be restored to
its former glory.

Firstly, why not let all the players take
turns in the World Series? That wouldn't be a crime. It's a really
simple way to let everyone have a chance. This way no one would be a
LOSER and everyone would be a WINNER. Doesn't that feel good?

And with winning cast aside, baseball could shift to the next higher plane -- one of being nice.

it is time for us to take things up a notch. Just imagine how wonderful
a day at the ball park could be. (I hope I'm not moving too fast for
you, Marty.)

No more knots in your stomach from wondering if
your team can pull off a win today. No more emotional rollercoasters as
the score seesaws back and forth between the teams. No more
edge-of-your-seat moments where you swear you'll cram a hot dog down
the throat of the next person who walks in front of you.

each game would bring together a huddled mass of humanity connecting at
a deep level of community, a neighborhood of baseball love. We fans
would just bask in the glow of "being together," while the guys on the
diamond hit the rubber core around for fun in a spirit of cooperation
and comraderieship.

It would be a really, really nice time.


And it will only take two simple changes to make this vision a reality.

the rules need to change so that a player's actions only count if they
are accompanied by kind thoughts. For example, if a pitcher throws a
strike while thinking, "Oh, dear, I hope that wasn't too fast," then
the strike would count. However, if his thoughts are "Hey, Ugly -- I'm
taking you down!", the strike would be changed to a ball.

the choices for snacks at the ball park would need to change in favor
of hot chicken soup and warm milk. Isn't this a combination that has
"nice" written all over it? Wouldn't it be refreshing, for a change, to
have a healthy taste treat that relaxes the stomach and calms the
nerves? Mmm! I can almost smell it.

And imagine America's new slogan: Mom, chicken soup, and baseball.

let's not kid ourselves. Changes like these are going to meet with a
little resistance -- maybe even a lot. Some fairweather fans might even
give up the game as we usher in this new age of baseball. And to those
sad sacks I say, "Good riddance! But may you have a full and abundant

For the few who stray, there will be even more who who
stay. And think of the hordes of new fans who will flock to the park.
Baseball will rise to new heights. It will lead our civilization to a
kindlier, more genteel tomorrow.

It's time to rise up and take a
stand. You and I, Marty. And everyone of like mind who's reading this.
We must lead a revolt (in a loving way, mind you) to take back
America's favorite sport . The onus rests on our shoulders to sit down
and demand the changes necessary to save the game.

Won't you join me in creating a bright future for America's Game?

thirdly let me address the team here at the university. You know who
you are. You guys are great. You are the epitome of a team with no
ambition to win. Go get them, you guys. Be the nicest you can be!


Nutbottom is a Senior Fellow Professor of American Culture at Ivy Leaf
University in Urnotserse, PA. He enjoys reading, skiing, and sorting
antique bottle caps. You can learn more about his creator by visiting

The Cheers, (c) Rob Favero, All rights reserved.