In 2004, South Park had an episode entitled Up the Down Steroid. In it, Cartman faked that he was disabled to get in the Special Olympics under the assumption that he could win. Meanwhile, Jimmy was training really hard to compete, but he found that "there are shortcuts," and the rest of the episode was typical South Park mayhem. From parodies of roid rage to Timmy's pressure on Jimmy to do the right thing, the lesson was everything from a totally offensive Cartman acting developmentally disabled to sheer hatred for Giambi, Bonds, and McGwire to a lesson learned that the only way to compete is to compete fairly.
All the same, it's hard to believe that the message that was made out of 2 retired players and a hanger on would still have any resonance in today's terms. After all, Manny, Papi, and A-Roid seem to be more current to the talk of steroids in sports, but it's not all sports or pop culture that South Park does. Instead, there is the ability to lampoon things and give lessons in ways that are equally conservative and potty-mouthed DESPITE the fact that this season tends to focus more on KFC and video game ads than it does on anything else.
However, this week when Comedy Central refused to allow any comments to be made about Mohammed, which is actually the 2nd time this happened. So in a very real sense they caved in to the rights of the extremists themselves. Nobody stopped Matt and Trey from putting the fecal material on Jesus and Bush at the end of Cartoon Wars, which was done simply to show that they can mock Christianity and American ideals, but when it came to Islam, we had to fear the wrath of the extremists (not the mainstream believers themselves).
So what does this have to do with baseball, you might be asking.
As America's game, we're to represent everything that is right about America. Sometimes, we do that with Jackie Robinson stealing home. Sometimes, we do it with celebrations for records. Other times, we do it by wearing uniforms that honor the military, the police, and the firemen. Most times, we just rise for the playing of the National Anthem and taking off our caps. A very simple request really, but for some in the stands who call themselves Americans, it's a brief moment of discomfort that doesn't remember the sacrifices of those that have given all for the rights that we have.
All the same, we even make room for people not to stand for the anthem. Carlos Delgado refused to stand because of the Navy's use of Vieques for a bombing range, and while people disputed - even home fans at Shea! - he had the right, and people respected it.
But when America gives way for the rights of extremists to speak - be it radical religion like the Westboro Baptist Church and their "God Hates Fags" campaign at military funerals AND for extremists to make death threats and anti-American speeches under the liberty that America and not their country provide for them (or in the case of Westboro, that they wouldn't allow for all citizens to live in the way that they would want to), it seems absurd.
In a time when a car bomb almost goes off in Times Square, baseball doesn't seem as important as hoping that we have a real life Jack Bauer to clean up the bad guys and save the day.
At least that's what I think.