Every one of us, every last one, is a hypocrite. For this story to get the attention it has, and for it to dominate the news as it has, is unbelievable. So Alex Rodriguez used steroids. My response: BIG DEAL. Join the club. Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Migeul Tejada, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Jason Giambi, Jose Canseco, Paul LoDuca and about 500 others (or more) are waiting for A-Rod at the back of the clubhouse. And yet, the story is all over the talk radio and Sportscenter.
If you cared to notice, I have not posted an entry in days to this blog. Chris did a great job of holding the fort. I love that guy. I think I might have been the last person in the world to hear about A-Rod’s story in Sports Illustrated and it shocked my Saturday night. I spent the last few days pondering how I really thought about the whole situation.
I guess my first response was “I’m not all that surprised.” I mean, I was a little, I never really thought he juiced; his Home Run numbers never really “spiked” indicating something new (i.e. Sosa, Bonds) and his head never got bigger (i.e. Bonds.) But seriously, who hasn’t used ‘roids? So I guess that’s why I wasn’t surprised. I guess I knew, deep down, that he was guilty, just like everyone else.
My second thought, was “Is this really that big a deal?” I mean, everyone and their mom was juicing from the dawn of time until 2003-2004. Shoot, they tested 600 baseball players in 2003 and 104 (17%) tested positive. For steroids. Countless others were just using HGH which was undetectable. If you have not done the math, that is an average of 3-4 players per team.
So why is Jayson Stark accusing A-Rod of “Destroying the Game’s History.” I have a lot of respect for Stark, but he is WAY off the mark on this one. A-Rod is nowhere near responsible for that. Bud Selig is, mostly. Fay Vincent, somewhat. So is Bart Giamatti, Peter Ueberoth, and Bowie Kuhn – every commissioner since the 1960’s. When a company makes dumb decisions that cost money, the CEO is always held to blame – Selig is the CEO and I don’t hear anyone knocking him down.
Rodriguez simply did what countless others were doing. Something that was allowed by the commissioner, owners, coaches, managers and veteran players. Something that was encouraged by trainers and nutritionists. Doctors and surgeons. We can’t fault him for that!
Now some people are talking about not voting A-Rod into the Hall of Fame. Which makes me ask, how many steroid users are already in the Hall? How many, like Mike Schmidt, who took aamphetamines or did cocaine in the locker room? How many superstars in the NFL used ‘roids and HGH? How many Hall of Fame NFLers are former users?
Which leads me to my final thought, which dawned on me this morning during a lovely commute up north to Albany, NY. WE ARE ALL HYPOCRITES. How many of US use performance enhancing drugs in our lives? Raise your hand if you drink coffee. Raise your hand if you are one of the countless millions who smoke cigarettes to calm down when stressed or drink a glass of wine every night to relax. Maybe you, like Micheal Phelps, enjoy the occasional bong hit to relax.
I know someone who takes adderall. Adderall is designed to help people with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) focus and work harder. This person doesn’t have ADHD. He just does it cause he feels it ultimately helps him make more money by being more focused.
We all cut corners, we all try to get ahead. Everyone one of us would take the easy way to success if we felt there was nothing wrong with getting there the easy way. How can we fault a man who chose the same path others were taking, with no repercussions and only blue skies ahead?
An ESPN poll on Sunday and Monday asked if you would take steroids if it meant you would get a $250 Million contract. After over 115,000 votes, 64% of the voters said yes they would. The other 36% are in denial. I am sure of it.
The fact is, this was the era of performance enhancing drugs in baseball. Just like the late 80’s and early 90’s was the cocaine era and before that was amphetamines. Every one of these players who generates the numbers should be in the Hall of Fame. We know they used ‘roids whether they admit it or not and because of that, we can take their stats with a grain of salt. We all know Barry Bonds hit over 755 home runs, but that does not stop us from thinking of Hank Aaron as the true home run king. Even when Maris broke Ruth’s record, many still considered Ruth to hold the single season HR record. This went on for years – even lasting longer the Maris did.
We love baseball. Every American, young or old has a special place for baseball in their heart – for some its larger space then others, but we all grew up playing some sort of baseball with our family and friends. Most of us played little league or had a sibling who did. As a result of this, we always want baseball to be perfect. It shocks us when baseball isn’t perfect; when it lets us down. But you know what?
We’re not perfect.