It was the summer of 2003. A pleasant breeze graced the local baseball field, but I wasn't there. I was inside watching Comedy Central, sheltered in more ways than one. It was, for me, the summer of Major League, the summer of Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn, the summer of Charlie Sheen and everything a kid like me could want out of a basic cable daytime movie.
There was just something so innocent about it all: a gang of misfits playing the game they loved, trying to keep their team in Cleveland where it belonged. Yeah, the owner was a stripper, the pitchers doctored the ball, Vaughn nailed his teammate's wife, etc. But Sheen's character was a revelation. Originally as walk-prone as his nickname would suggest, Rick Vaughn was able to turn it all around with dedication and a new pair of glasses. It was an inspiration, a message of hope that maybe, just maybe, I would make the Bigs too with the right corrective eye-wear. As it turns out, all I ever got was 20/20 hindsight.
How could we have been so naive, America? Why did we let Charlie Sheen pull the wool over our eyes? He said it was the glasses, I believed him, and no one told me differently. But glasses don't give an actor an 85 mph fastball. Glasses don't make an actor more irritable than usual. And after all the alcohol, pot, cocaine, and Ambien, why did no one ask him whether he'd taken steroids? We all wanted to believe again, but at what cost?
The news hit yesterday like a PED-aided beaning. In the very same magazine that tore the lid off the steroid epidemic almost ten years ago, Sheen tearfully (I assume there were tears) admitted the horrible truth:
I was already bitchy because-let's just say that I was enhancing my performance a little bit. It was the only time I ever did steroids. I did them for like six or eight weeks. You can print this, I don't give a f—-. My fastball went from 79 to like 85.
Two hours of a thirteen-year-old's daytime television-watching rendered utterly meaningless. I don't know what to think or whom to blame. Sheen? The media? Bud Selig? The saddest thing is how unnecessary it all was. Sheen already threw hard enough to play a pitcher in a comedy. And if he didn't, he took the place of another, more honest actor who could have.
The only thing we can do now is move forward. The Sheen news might be the wake-up call the industry needs to provide WADA-administered drug tests to actors in all sports films, including voice actors and stunt doubles. We ought to have a difficult, frank talk with our children about Sheen, cheating, and staying clean. The future is all we have left. I guess this is all just a part of growing up in the time we live in, but I just didn't think it would be so hard.
A League Of Its Own [SI]