24b Were Baseball
Players Better Role
Baseball players are better role models today than in past decades, no matter how counterintuitive this may seem. The tendency to believe the opposite is based largely on the universal illusions generated by the passage of time.
In the Apology, Socrates begins his defense by complaining that his most dangerous accusers are those now dead. Having slandered Socrates and passed into the grave, his deceased enemies have left us one-sided warnings about the Socratic vices, while escaping any scrutiny or cross-examination themselves— like those insufferable people who insult us even while leaving the room to avoid reprisal. A similar phenomenon occurs with retired and departed baseball players, who leave the field of play amidst Cooperstown plaques and dreamy anecdotes from aged broadcasters, basking in a glow that no active player can possibly match.
The first deed of time is to erase all moments of mediocrity and turn any past period into a caricature filled with peaks and valleys. Think back to your college years, and you will remember life-changing books, drunken escapades, and poignant romances, not the tedious drudgery of the laundry room and flash-card learning. But when comparing two eras of your own life, or even of Major League Baseball, it is important to consider the overall tenor of their daily rhythms, not just the exceptionally high and low points of each period.