It’s no fun trying to be the voice of reason and common sense every day, so allow me to serve as Beelzebub’s Advocate for a smidge.

Why is baseball the only sport that gets hijacked by the do-gooders whenever we’re waxing nostalgic and straining to fit this bizarre generation into its proper historical perspective?

And why do we fall into the trap of believing that baseball’s records are the only milestones that are hallowed, sacred, sacrosanct, fill in your favorite George Will/Bob Costas/Peter Gammons apologetic adjective here?

Yes, I understand that baseball is besieged by a steroid scandal. I know all about the “cream” and the “clear.” I’ve heard way too many Jose Canseco specifics about bizarre inject-your-teammate-in-the-butt rituals. And it’s etched in granite that Commissioner Bud Selig is the most inept top cop since Rosco P. Coltrane of “The Dukes of Hazzard” fame.

No professional sport is an island, however. Baseball clubhouses didn’t become an underground pharmacy in a vacuum.

Numerous NFL offensive linemen, circa 1975-1984, stepped forward the minute retirement afforded them immunity and ascribed their shortened life expectancy to illegal substance abuse. The drug cocktails they claimed to swallow every day could have poisoned large farm animals by the dozen. Lyle Alzado, anyone?

We guffaw until our stomachs hurt when baseball’s new get tough steroid policy hooks a big fish like that notorious middle infielder with the painfully obvious Michelin Man physique um, Neifi Perez.

OK, so “zero tolerance” has devolved into one of those meaningless phrases in the vein of “guaranteed, or your money back.” But think quickly: Name an All-Pro other than San Diego linebacker extraordinaire Shawne Merriman who has fallen prey to the demons in the jar and recently received the requisite four-game suspension from the NFL.

Exactly. Without fail, the guy who takes the fall is a third-string quarterback or an O-lineman who’s even more anonymous than most O-linemen.

The list goes on.

Nothing makes our jaw drop lower than watching a film clip of a 170-pound Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire taking Rick Mahler or Mark Gubicza downtown in 1987. But have you conducted the same side-by-side exercise with the then-and-now point guards or pivot men from your favorite NBA team? That dramatic difference can’t be explained away as mere human evolution.

Golfers who drive the ball 100 yards farther than their counterparts on the PGA money list two decades ago barely persuade us to bat an eyelash. Oh, it’s just the equipment that’s better. Riiiiight.

Don’t get me started about hockey players and over-the-counter cold medications, either.

The home run record has been issued a subpoena into the courtroom of public opinion, as well it should. But I’m reluctant to hitch my wagons to any milestone these days.

Bonds will knock No. 756. Life will go on. And I’ll continue to view modern-day pro sports as entertainment, on par with professional wrestling and prime-time game shows.

The sooner we all take that stand and stop elevating our blood pressure over that angry, aging sideshow in San Francisco, the better off all of us will be.


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