By Sam Zuba-
(CBS) Why can’t sports be about more than sports?
Why do calloused and cold fans feel the need to stifle anything that hinges on emotion, rather than the X’s and O’s of the game?
On Tuesday, the Miami Marlins signed Adam Greenberg to a one-day contract, helping to complete the “One At-Bat” campaign, which sought to give Greenberg one more shot in the big leagues.
You see, in 2005, when Greenberg was just 24 years old, he received his Major League call-up with the Chicago Cubs. On the first pitch of his first at-bat, however, Greenberg was struck in the head by a 92-mph fastball.
He left the game and never returned to the Majors, becoming the only player in Major League Baseball to have his career ended on the first pitch of his first at-bat.
Fast forward seven years, and a local film maker created a campaign to get Greenberg one more at-bat in the big leagues. The Marlins obliged, and Greenberg was signed to a one-day contract.
As soon as the campaign took fire, earning more than 20,000 online signatures in support, media members were quickly there with a fire extinguisher, ready to put out any hopes of a feel-good story.
I get it.
Greenberg didn’t deserve this opportunity. There are plenty of guys who will spend their entire careers in the Minors, praying, hoping that one day they’ll receive their call to the Majors.
Likely, that call will never come.
Sports – baseball in particular – are a cruel business. Only the strong survive.
Trust me, I get it. It’s a business and a profitable one. But when a Major League Baseball team can do something that is so much bigger than a game, why not do it?
Who does it hurt? Who is the victim here? I see a world of positives without a single negative.
Greenberg struck out in his at-bat, though I’m willing to bet he, his family and friends enjoyed a night they’ll never forget.
In world so sick, so twisted that we have assistant football coaches raping little boys, gunmen walking into movie theaters and killing dozens of innocent people and families desperately trying to put food on the table, why is Greenberg’s opportunity a problem?
Pick your battles, folks.
You want to get angry about something? There are plenty of other logical, rational things to be upset about. This isn’t one of them.
You want to rant about how this is a disgrace to the game? Save it. With guys like Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa in the record books, this game isn’t as sacred as we all want it to be.
Was this a PR stunt by the last-place Marlins, willing to do whatever it takes to take the heat off their failures this season? Without question. Does that change the good that came from this? No.
This was a meaningless game played by two teams whose seasons will be over Wednesday.
Push past the negativity and cynicism that sports tend to elicit.
Enjoy the good when it’s there.
Sam is the Sports Content Producer for CBSChicago.com and 670TheScore.com. You can follow him on Twitter @SamZuba.