A Slice of Fried Gold


Monday, February 9, 2009

T-Shirt by Nike, forearms by Balco

In a whirlwind 48 hours, Alex Rodriguez went from a legendary ballplayer embattled by Madonnagate and an inability to hit in the postseason, to a man who allegedly failed steroid tests in 2003, to a man who was openly admitting to taking performance enhancers during his three greatest statistical seasons.

This is the man who people would point to during this questionable decade of major league baseball and say, "at least the best was clean."

This is the man I grew up wanting to be as a baseball player, growing up a pitcher but wanting to play in the middle infield like A-Rod, the shooting star of the Seattle Mariners.

This is the man who every day during my hour as library aide in the year 2000 inspired me to incessantly refresh ESPN.com in hopes that the headline would say "A-Rod Stays in Seattle" in bold letters.

Of course, little did everyone know, he never earned any of that respect and adoration. With the word about the three years of taking performance enhancers and his admission of that, there are two more questions I have: was his admission because he honestly felt bad, and were those really the only seasons he took them?

The first answer is obvious. A-Rod has always been a cold and calculating ballplayer, always looking at the bottom line and never really thinking about the game as a sport, but as a business (besides a certain ridiculously awesome dogpile that took place in 1995 when the Mariners won their first playoff series). When I was younger I didn't see it. I was little and I only had blind adoration for my sporting idol. However, now I recognize A-Rod as a man who saw the respect and relative survivability presented by the prospect of admission.

Over the past 48 hours, I'd wager A-Rod and his publicists were studying the two forks in the road that were presented as options. You have the admission route, successfully parlayed into furthering of careers and even gain of esteem by both Jason Giambi and Andy Pettite. Then you have the "wha? steroids? me? no!!!" route that Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens followed, which led to a complete disappearance from the world of baseball and what essentially is the most thorough blacklisting since McCarthyism.

Shockingly, A-Rod's savvy team suggested the former option, which would be similarly effective if it weren't so blatantly transparent.

As for the other question, what about the other years? No one knows besides A-Rod (or A-Fraud as Joe Torre so lovingly calls him) and his confederates. However, with 2005 and 2007 appearing to be statistical anomalies in comparison to the rest of his career (omitting 2001 to 2003), perhaps the weight of the New York limelight led A-Rod down the path of the less than righteous once again. These are just inferences by yours truly, but if he lied once, why wouldn't he lie again?

People say this invalidates his career and makes him just another fraud, and I don't necessarily disagree. However, the concept that one of the most naturally talented players ever to play the game cheated in itself isn't the worst thing to come from this. It's the fact that young ballplayers around the world just lost a hero, and the fact that he robbed people like me of a boyhood idol. I can't wait to burn my A-Rod posters hanging up in my room from when I was little this week.

What happened to the good old days when you just find out years later than your idol had slept with 20,000 women ala Wilt Chamberlain, or that they were a filthy alcoholic or racist like so many baseball players from yesteryear? Is it really so much to ask for that we just have to put up with debauchery and shenanigans, and no more of this cheating business?


Erik said...

What a tool. Release the list so we can get this over with.

Sam said...

I remember seeing that picture of the dogpile on the sports page of the ADN... Arod's face was poking out of the bottom with his mouth wide open screaming like a little girl...a little roided girl. Honestly though, he's one of my favorite players but should I be ashamed to say that I really don't really care if he did roids? I think that we should accept that what happened in the past is the way that things were done in the past. If Roger Clemens was juicing, why should he have that advantage over you when you're trying to hit off him? Not juicing would essentially put you behind the curve, and therefore make you a worse player compared to the others. By sticking a needle in his ass before workouts, he landed the biggest sports contract ever, and has some of the best baseball numbers in history. Let's lose a little bit of respect due to the lack of supposed 100% natural talent, but lets also remember that this used to not be illegal.

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