Alex Rodriguez's admission that he took steroids while with the Texas Rangers from 2001-2003 marks the latest baseball player to come forward and endure public scrutiny, outrage, mistrust, and denigration.
The outrage of fans is justifiable due to the fact that the barrage of home runs (which brought so much joy to hardcore and casual baseball fans) that occurred during the time he took steroids were obtained through false and illegal pretenses. However, the question of whether their ire is directed at the true culprit still remains.
While Mark McGuire, Roger Clemens, and Barry Bonds have been shamed out of the public eye for their supposed transgression during the steroid era, the men who let it all happen—the powers that be run the Major League Baseball apparatus—have emerged largely unscathed.
In fact, Bud Selig—the de facto commissioner who presided over the steroid era, which is quickly shaping up to be the greatest debacle in American professional sports history (outranking the Eight Men Out and Pete Rose Controversy), wherein the achievements made by athletes during an entire decade will be cast aside by history as gained in a scurrilous and underhanded fashion—received a raise last year and raked in just under $20 million.
That's right. Despite the sport's brightest star in its mightiest constellation becoming tainted by an era of pervasive illegal drug use, the man who was in charge while this moral turpitude was raging has not only retained his job, but recently received a raise.
My advice to fans is to stop harassing the stars that made myopic decisions and were negligent in regard to the substances that entered their bodies. As more information comes out about the era, it sounds as though you would have been stupid not to cheat during that decade.
While there have been a few ballplayers who indignantly point out they never took part in the testosterone-filled, weight-lifting orgy that infiltrated the ranks of Minor and Major League Baseball, it is patent that they were the exception and not the rule.
Thus, the fans should stop laying heavy criticism on the players who had the misfortune of coming up during that age and, instead, criticize the conditions that made such drug use so easy and acceptable.
It is not as though Major League Baseball didn't know there were performance enhancing drugs on the marketplace. The Olympics had been testing since the early '80s. Both the NFL and the NBA took significant steps to outlaw the substances from locker rooms in an attempt to keep their respective sports viable and clean.
So why was baseball so far behind?
The answer is complicated. While some of the culpability clearly belongs to Selig and others within the high ranks of Major League Baseball executivedom—whose ineffectual leadership and attention to receipts rather than respectability clearly contributed to the steroid culture—one can't put the full load of blame upon their minted doorstep.
Instead, one also needs to levy accusations toward the Baseball Players Union, whose unbridled greed and unwavering attention to dollar signs led to woeful neglect of its members, whose health, posterity, and ability to earn a post-baseball professional position are all called into question because of their inability to properly deal with the drug issue.
How Donald Fehr has retained his post after a public roast on Capital Hill remains one of the biggest mysteries of this whole fiasco.
I just watched A-Rod's interview, and you know what? I believe him.
I think he got screwed by the powers that be, which allowed such a degenerative culture to operate so that a young man, laden with the pressure of a big money contract, had such easy access to illegal drugs.
That speaks more to the state of the system than any deficiency in individual decision-making.
Thus, instead of booing A-Rod at his next at-bat, write a letter to Selig asking him to resign. Call Donald Fehr and let him know how he dropped the ball. Express your anger; you should be mad. However, direct it towards the proper culprits, and leave the young men who made young men mistakes alone with their guilty conscience.
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