my name is ben and i am a baseball fan. my drug of choice is the yankees, although i have experimented with fantasy leagues and the mets.
i started off with weak stuff: the mediocre yankee teams of the late '60s and early '70s. but then i experienced the high of reggie's world series heroics and guidry's slider.
i emptied my bar mitzvah fund to buy season tickets and started hanging out with bleacher bums. my low point was telling my parents that i had to miss their 25th anniversary party for an important business trip, when i was really at a meaningless weekend series in baltimore. while the yankees were winning, i was blind to the pain i was causing.
in addition to using, i started dealing-especially around the postseason, when my access to playoff tickets made it seem like everyone wanted to be my friend. for the first time in my life i felt like a somebody. but a lost decade of second place finishes led to a crash that ended with me being rushed to the hospital after overdosing on peanuts and crackerjacks. it was a cry for help.
i tried to wean myself off the game by watching the nba and nfl. they got me through the free-agent signings and cy young award balloting, but the all-star game voting would always bring flashbacks of bucky's homerun.
i relapsed several times, once spending an entire month binging on don mattingly. the episode frightened me into going cold turkey.
i gave up my season tickets and stayed away from the number four train. my recovery went so well that i got through the 1994 strike season without anti-depressants.
my therapist warned that i would always be a baseball fan. i didn't believe her. i foolishly thought that i could handle the hot stove league but was hooked by the time pitchers and catchers came around. i started taking hits of speed, so i could stay up to watch the yankees on their west coast trips.
the morning after an extra-inning marathon in oakland, my eyes were so bloodshot that my boss offered to get me help. i lied, saying that i had allergies.
i found that it would take an entire homestand to give me the same high i used to get with a few innings in the bleachers. desperate, i started recording games and re-watching them on off days.
meanwhile, a more potent product hit the market. homerun records were falling and pitchers were winning games well into their 40s.
i heard the rumors about steroids, but i was in denial-even after learning that clemens and petitte had cheated.
but the news about a-rod hit me like a foul tip in the groin, forcing me to admit that my baseball high had been chemically induced.
since then i have burned my yankees cap, given my mother permission to throw out my baseball card collection and blocked the yes channel on my cable. i even got rid of my pinstriped business suits.
much like baseball itself, not everything in this essay is true. still, the game was always more than just a pastime to me, and i resent having been played for a fool by the sport and the team i loved.
the bond of trust between baseball and me has been broken, and the early signs are that the breach is permanent. spring training hasn't caused any cravings, and i didn't watch an inning of the world baseball classic.
when a-rod had surgery i reflexively bought a get-well card, but so far i haven't mailed it. -- ben krull is an upper east sider and essayist.