Daze of My Life/Batter with a Pitch

by Kenneth B. Lourie

I know Iíve been watching a lot of sports on television recently - Major League Baseballís division and league championships, the World Series, college football on Thursday nights and all day Saturday, and professional football on Sundays, primarily - but it sure seems as if Raphael Palmeiro, the former Texas Rangersí (and Baltimore Oriolesí) first baseman/designated hitter, and four-time MLB All-Star and member of the 500 home run club, has been busy, on tape of course, in his apparent capacity as Viagraís official spokesperson, replacing the former senator from Kansas, Bob Dole.

Moreover, unless Iím mistaken - and thatís certainly a possibility - while watching these same baseball playoffs and world series, Iíve also noticed Viagra advertisements on those rotating mini-billboards along the stadiumsí interior stands directly behind home plate, perfectly aligned for all those fans like myself viewing the game from the center field camera angle so often utilized in baseball coverage.

I know I must have missed the announcement, but exactly when did the advertising of male enhancement become so mainstream and dare I say, ho hum? Not that Iím a prude or anything, far from it, after all I am a male, but the ubiquitousness of Viagraís visibility has caught my attention, ďnot that thereís anything wrong with that,Ē which I suppose was its marketing plan all along. It appears as if Viagra has authorized a blitzkrieg of sorts and inundated viewers with a steady stream of what Raphael Palmeiroís doctor ďsays is right forĒ him.

And if itís right for a likely future Hall of Famer, whoís well-spoken, good-looking and physically fit, then it must be good for the vast majority of us average-looking, not-so-fit, nonprofessional athletes who are at home sitting instead of outside participating.

And who among us lay-persons knows or understands the cause for such dissatisfaction, and whether being physically fit or athletic even has any bearing on oneís performance, or lack thereof? Still, if someone we think shouldnít have a need, or is open and honest enough, and/or maybe paid enough, to admit to, in effect, erectile dysfunction, then who am I to dispute the notion that making news on the diamond doesnít preclude one from needing assistance off the diamond?

And if a little blue pill, shaped like a diamond, coincidentally enough, can solve a personal problem that affects even star athletes like Raphael Palmeiro, then there should be no stigma or hesitation for little old dysfunctional whomever to step up to the plate and take a swing at solving this problem. At least thatís the theory, I imagine, behind the promotion and prevalence of Viagraís advertising campaign, appearing so prominently at so many sports venues.

If these players who succeed professionally need some help to succeed personally, so be it. Who among us is immune to such ups and downs in our respective lives? No one, thatís who!

Furthermore, if finely tuned athletes, with top-of-the-line medical care at their disposal, want or perhaps need a little boost to improve the quality of their overall lives, then more power to them. I should be thankful that we live in a country where even though millions of dollars are paid to professional athletes for their prowess on the field, thanks to Viagraís rather aggressive marketing campaign, there are still dollars available to improve the quality of their fansí personal lives as well.

Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.