The San Francisco Giants have lost Melky Cabrera. Cabrera had violated Major League Baseball’s rules regarding performance-enhancing substances and has been suspended for 50 games. The story grows more bizarre by the day and sadder as well, because the All-Star Game MVP had done more than provide a serious boost to the Giants’ anemic offense, he had fit in with San Francisco.
Certain Giants do that; Brian Wilson has inspired fans to wear fake beards, you can see any number of Tim Lincecum wigs in the stands, and Cabrera has that great first name. You see, San Franciscans love masks, masques and costumes. Hallowe’en (I still resort to that archaic spelling) is like Independence Day and Christmas combined to a San Franciscan. Melky Cabrera had his Melk Men and his Melk Maids, fun bunches of people who help make the Giants Ballpark one of the best parties in any of the major sports. I doubt we’ll see these folks in costume again:
I’ve seen at least one photograph of a fan in a “Got Melk?” tee shirt with the “Got” crossed out and “Spoiled” written over it.
But spoilsport that I am, I must ask one question: why was Melky Cabrera (or any other sports figure) a hero? I can see why an aspiring NBA basketball player might study hours of a favorite Hall of Famer, but let’s face it, 99.9999% of all people who have a sports hero will never have even a remote chance of playing at the same level as their hero. And when you consider that an athlete who cheats and gets away with it stands to make tens of millions of dollars in salary and endorsements, one must conclude that the odds that a great player is a cheating player have only improved.
The problem with the living heroes is that too often they have little, shall we say, secrets. You won’t need to think long to think of cons serving long sentences who used to be heroes to their own victims. Perhaps we’re better off with heroes who have long since passed on, heroes of whom we already know everything, people whom we can forgive for their inevitable flaws. I do know of exactly one hero in my life, an absolutely perfect exemplar of love, loyalty and courage. This fellow:
Dogs are the best heroes. The minute that five-day-old me came home from the hospital, Archy, without any training at all, took up a protective position next to me and stayed there for the rest of his too-few 12 1/2 years. I won’t write that Archy possessed the loudest bark in the history of canis lupus familiaris, but I will write that his almighty roar sometimes registered on the Richter Scale. If anyone is studying that peculiar wave of 1.5 – 2.0 quakes that struck San Diego for two years in the late 1950s, and then disappeared forever, that was Archy, and yes, it was probably a good thing that we moved to the East Coast. His all-powerful Bark of Thunder saved the life of yours truly twice.
Think about it: if humans emulated all of the qualities of dogs, positive or negative, we’d be better people, even if we did shed a lot and sniffed each other’s butt. If we restrained ourselves from those two flaws, we might finally live up to our potential.
Vonn Scott Bair