There’s a lot to digest regarding the news from this weekend about Alex Rodriguez’s positive steroid test from his 2003 MVP campaign and from his confession this afternoon. Reading through the plethora of blog posts and discussions that sprouted up over this story, it’s clear that there are a lot of different opinions. Some believe that A-Rod has ruined his legacy by tainting his sure-to-come chase for the home run crown; some believe that this revelation is just further proof that the entire era has been affected by steroids, and that there are scores more of ballplayers who also used; some are legitimately surprised at the news, but are level-headed enough to realize that the game will go on and that there is a lot of good there to enjoy (even from A-Rod himself) as long as they allow themselves to enjoy it.
The overriding sentiment, however, seems to be that the game of baseball has been dealt a strong blow. The issues of legitimacy and fairness that have been debated over the last 7 – 10 years are once again at the forefront of the discussion, and it only serves to remind the public of all the negative feelings that they may have had over that time. It’s a very natural reaction to have, and it’s one that I even share in.
I think it’s important, then, to take some time to revisit the positive aspects of the game, to give ourselves a little break from this negativity and remember why we all love the sport. A baseball tonic, if you will. And what better way to do that than by taking a look at baseball through the eyes of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and friends. The perspective supplied by Charles Schulz and the Peanuts gang has always been simple, straightforward and honest. And that was never more true than when the gang took to the diamond. If there’s a pure, simple tonic for baseball right now, I’d be hard-pressed to find one better than Peanuts.
With A-Rod’s steroid saga (and Bonds’ and McGwire’s…), one overriding aspect of it has always been the pursuit of the home run crown. Mac enchanted the nation with his pursuit of 61, and Bonds seemed to have nothing in his sights but Aaron’s mark of 755. With the tens of millions of dollars at stake in A-Rod’s contract over achieving and surpassing these marks, there’s no doubt that he too was focused on this.
But what most people don’t realize is that, before Bonds and before McGwire and even before Hank, it was Snoopy who challenged Ruth’s record first. Thankfully, it was 1973 and designer steroids were not available to the beagle, but that doesn’t mean that his pursuit of the record wasn’t interesting itself. Enjoy!:
(As with my “Charlie Brown Christmas” post, I’m leaving the strips small so as not to upset anyone. The transcript of each script is available beneath it, and you can click on the image to make it more readable.)
Snoopy & the Home Run Record
Linus, the statistician, is going through the team’s records.
Linus: Seven hundred and eleven… seven hundred and twelve… seven hundred and thirteen! I can’t believe it! Only one more to go… Charlie Brown, did you know that one of our players can tie Babe Ruth’s record of career home runs this year? Does anyone know that?
Snoopy lies atop his dog house, with dozens of tally marks notched all over the doghouse.
Snoopy: Yes, I, for one, am quite aware of it!
Charlie Brown and Linus chat near the team’s bench.
Charlie Brown: Snoopy can tie Babe Ruth’s home run record? But I thought Hank Aaron was going to do that…
Linus: Snoopy’s ahead of him! Snoopy only needs one more home run! He can tie Babe Ruth’s record before Hank Aaron if the pressure doesn’t get to him…
Snoopy sits on the bench, shaking uncontrollably.
Snoopy: Pressure? What pressure?
Charlie Brown approaches Snoopy with a letter in his hand.
Charlie Brown: Here, you got a letter..
Snoopy, reading: “Dear stupid, who do you think you are trying to break Babe Ruth’s record? Why don’t you go back to where you came from? Drop dead! Get lost! Sincerely, a true baseball fan”
Charlie Brown: Is it from anyone you know?
Snoopy: One of my admirers.
Lucy talks to Snoopy near the team bench.
Lucy: I hope that Hank Aaron will break Babe Ruth’s home run record.. Hank Aaron is a great player… But you! If you break Babe Ruth’s record, it’ll be a disgrace! You’re not even human!
Snoopy plants a kiss on Lucy’s cheek.
Snoopy: That’s a point in my favor, sweetie!
Charlie Brown and Linus are talking.
Charlie Brown: Babe Ruth hit seven hundred and fourteen home runs… That has to be one of the most fantastic records in the history of sports…
Linus: But Snoopy has hit seven hundred and thirteen home runs! He only needs one more to tie the record…
Snoopy leans against his bat in a nonchalant pose.
Snoopy: Just a little ol’ country boy doin’ his job!
Snoopy reads a letter.
The text of the letter: Dear Stupid, who do you think you are? If you break the Babe’s home run record, we’ll break you! We’ll run you out of the country! We hate your kind!
Charlie Brown: Is your hate mail causing you to lose any sleep?
Snoopy lies on his doghouse, with a tower of mail leaning over him.
Snoopy: Only when it falls on me.
Snoopy sits on the bench, intensely watching the action on the field.
Charlie Brown: This is our last game of the season, Snoopy… If you don’t hit a home run today and tie Babe Ruth’s record, Hank Aaron will beat you to it!
Snoopy steps to the plate.
Snoopy: Tough luck, Hank… I’m going to hit the first pitch over the fence… [The pitch goes well over Snoopy's head, knocking his cap off.]… Well, maybe the second pitch…
Linus and Snoopy sit on the bench together.
Linus: All right, Snoopy, it’s the ninth inning… This will be your last time at bat this season.. If you’re going to tie Babe Ruth’s home run record, you’ve got to do it now! Charlie Brown’s on second… A home run will tie the record and win the game! It’s hero time, Snoopy!
Snoopy steps to the plate.
Snoopy: I just want to be a credit to my breed!
Charlie Brown is a couple of steps off second base, yelling towards Snoopy at the plate.
Charlie Brown: C’mon, Snoopy, hit a home run! Bring me home! Win the game!
A cloud of dust to Charlie Brown’s left and the umpire screams: YOU’RE OUT!
Linus yells from the bench: CHARLIE BROWN GOT PICKED OFF SECOND! THE SEASON IS OVER!
Snoopy screams at the plate: AAUGHH!!