Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Time to move along

So Alex Rodriguez admits to using steroids yet no one seems to be satisfied with what he said. What did y'all expect - for A-Rod to stand up and say he cheated by using steroids and that he was really, really sorry for bring the game of baseball into such disrepute?

Get real. Rodriguez got caught and had to go into damage control mode pretty darned quickly. Of course the story he told Peter Gammons and the statement he made at his press conference don't mesh. When the story first broke, Rodriguez and his team had very little time to prepare a response and, after seeing what happened when Roger Clemens angrily denied the allegations against him, decided to admit to using and looked for a "soft" forum. Peter Gammons and ESPN was that "soft" forum.

At a formal press conference, however, he couldn't control the questions.

So what if his stories weren't consistent (or even believable). Did y'all really expect him to get up and tell the truth? If so, you must also believe everything you're told by a politician or a TV pitchman. The truth is people lie; and they lie for a number of reasons. It's unrealistic to expect a high-profile professional athlete to cough up the unadulterated truth. Look, citizens accused of criminal acts, and facing time in jail or prison, lie to the police, they lie to their families and they lie to their criminal defense attorneys. It's second nature to try to deflect some of the blame to someone else. And look, we make the same argument about our clients being "young and ignorant" that Rodriguez did yesterday.

And, while I'm on my rant...A-Rod did not do anything to bring the game of baseball into disrepute. Cheating has long been an integral part of our American Pasttime. Ty Cobb would sharpen his spikes sitting in the dugout and use them to break up double plays. the 1919 Chicago White Sox threw the World Series. The 1951 New York Giants put a spy in an outfield box to steal signs - it's a pretty sure bet that Bobby Thomson knew what pitch Ralph Branca was throwing when he hit the Shot heard 'round the worldGaylord Perry made no secret of doctoring the baseball with all forms of "goop" and he's in the Hall of Fame. Players in the 60's, 70's and 80's were hopped up on greenies, marijuana, cocaine and heroin (to name a few of the performance enhancing drugs of that era). Joe Niekro was caught on the pitching mound with a nail file and other assorted devices in the middle of a game. Countless players have been nailed using corked bats (which, according to Mythbusters, don't do a damn thing).  

I don't care if Alex Rodriguez used steroids. I don't care if Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens or Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa or anyone else, for that matter, shot their butts full of juice. Baseball is a game and the name of that game is entertainment.

The memory most etched in my consciousness was the one-game playoff between the Houston Astros and the (hated) Los Angeles Dodgers in 1980 (necessitated after Houston blew a 3 game lead over the last weekend of the season). I remember sitting in school with the public address sytem broadcasting the game to the entire school that afternoon. I remember Chris Burke's 18th inning homerun that beat the Atlanta Braves and put Houston in the 2005 NLCS. I remember Jason Lane's catch in right field that put the Astros in the World Series for the first time. 

I also remember sitting at Minute Maid Park with my wife and her students one September afternoon watching the Astros play the Giants at the end of one season. Barry Bonds sat on the bench that day - much to everyone's disappointment. But then, in the 9th inning, Bonds came on to pinch-hit against the Astros' fireballing lefty, Billy Wagner. The building was electric. Everyone was on their feet. And the crowd roared when Wagner struck him out. Did it matter that Bonds was juicing? No. What mattered was the drama.

Baseball's a game. It's entertaining. And come April 6, I will be sitting at Minute Maid Park with my 5 year-old daughter celebrating Opening Day.


Anonymous said...

Totally agree with everything you said. As a Giants fan I found the witch-hunt of Bonds in the media and in MLB (and now in the courts!) a little over the top.

But that's the first time I've seen marijuana referred to as a performance enhancing drug. (Although I assume that was kind of tongue in cheek).

Paul B. Kennedy said...

Thank you for your comments.

I believe a lot of the Bonds witch-hunt has to do with his surly disposition and his thumbing his nose at the media.

Now I hated seeing Bonds break Hank Aaron's record. Aaron has always been one of my favorite players due in large part to the way he handled himself with such class - even when he was being disrespected.

And despite all the hype about steroids, my eyes still well up when I think about sitting in the stands with my little girl on Opening Day.

Anonymous said...

Hey if you're gonna go back to '80, you gotta acknowledge Game 6 of '86. I mean Mike Scott was scheduled to pitch Game 7, and was MVP of the series, even tho it didn't get that far.

That was a game seven, for all intents and purposes.

I remember Jose Cruz sitting on the bench as the Mets celebrated, and they kept flashing up that damned statistic:

"Jose Cruz has played in more games than any other active major league player without reaching World Series".

Grrrrrrrrr. But in a lot of ways it's still a great memory. Except for Bob Knepper (who went on to lose 20 games for SF later in his career) giving up a 3 run lead in bottom of the ninth.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't disagree with you more. Cheating is wrong. Plain and simple. Any baseball player caught cheating should be made an example of. If for no other reason than to provide a very visible lesson to our children regarding the possible consequences of lying, cheating and engaging in dishonest behavior. A-Roid is only beginning to receive the ridicule and public thrashing he has so richly earned for himself. If Roger Clemens did in fact lie under oath to Congress, he should be made an example of. Athletes are not above the law, and shouldn't be able to disregard the standards of truth and honesty we are all expected to live by. There need to be consequences for young people to see.

Barry Bonds appears to be the one who may actually find himself in prison. And if he obstructed justice and lied to a grand jury, so be it. Again, a vivid example for our children of one man's consequence of using illegal steroids and lying under oath about it.

Justice for all. Play ball.