The American Brand of Baseball

We blogged here a few months ago about the way Chicagoans' impressions of Sammy Sosa's brand went from iconic to sardonic in only a few short years. Where he had once been a hero beyond reproach, poor performance and a bat corking led us to a point where his sneeze-induced back injury became a joke, and his trade into an orange Orioles uniform seemed about as tragic as Moe poking Curly in the eye.

And now ... let's expand the conversation to the entire brand of baseball. How has the steroid saga sapped strength from the national pastime's status as a national pastime? Will gate receipts fall, will players have to hock their Ferraris? (Before you jump to conclusions, try purchasing single game Chicago Cubs tickets for this season. Hard to find!) Will the game bounce back? Will anyone care about this stuff a couple of years from now?

Other questions: Will Sammy's, Mark's and Barry's 61+ home run seasons have asterisks bigger than Roger Maris's 162 game asterisk? Who looks worse, Jose Canseco for writing a book admitting to steroids, Sammy for denying it, or Mark McGwire for dodging the question? Will any of the sanctimonious Congressmen who took time off from fighting terrorism and fixing social security for the steroid hearings win even one more vote for having done it?