About five years ago, I moved from the New York City metro area in northern New Jersey to a small town in the Lehigh Valley called Nazareth, Pennsylvania.
Despite moving slighty more than 80 miles from where I grew up, I could not afford to change jobs. I continued to work in construction in and around New York City.
Believe it or not, I really don't mind the commute.
I usually spend the majority of my nearly three hours of travel time listening to sports talk radio. I start my ride about 4:30 a.m., listening to All Night with Jason Smith on ESPN Radio 1230 of the Lehigh Valley. Around 5:15 a.m., just as I begin to lose my signal from 1230 AM, I turn the dial to 660 AM to listen to Tony Page on WFAN in New York. Tony Page stays on until 6 a.m., when I switch to 1050 AM, ESPN Radio in NY, to listen to Mike and Mike in the Morning. My evening commute belongs entirely to Michael Kay on ESPN Radio. In my opinion his is the best sports show on radio.
I listened to all those shows today, Tuesday, Feb. 10, just like everyday. And they all had something in common.
They were all talking about Alex Rodriguez.
It was getting so redundant that I was about to plug my iPod in and listen to some music. Then, suddenly, I thought I heard something that I hadn't heard yet on a Sportscenter update. Since I missed it, I left ESPN radio on for 20 more minutes so that I could hear the next update and see if I'd heard what I thought I'd heard.
Unfortunately, to my disgust, I had.
I heard Tom Hicks, owner of the Texas Rangers baseball club, telling reporters that he felt "betrayed" and "deceived" by Rodriguez's steroid use while with the Rangers from 2001 to 2003.
I then yelled to the radio, "Are you (expletive) serious!?"
Hicks went on to lay blame on the MLB Players' Union. He mentioned (and this is paraphrasing) that the Union thought it was protecting its players privacy, and that the Union looked at steroid testing like testing for marijuana. He also critiqued the Union further, adding that they thought they were protecting their players but really turned out to be hurting them.
Give me a break, Mr. Hicks.
Are we, as baseball fans, expected to believe that the steroid era is solely the responsibility of the players and the Union?
Maybe Mr. Hicks should move out of his glass house before he starts casting stones.
In case you forgot, Mr. Hicks, there are eight players who played for the Rangers that have been linked to steroids. That list includes some of the biggest names of this generation. Among them are Jose Canseco, Kevin Brown, Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmeiro, Ivan Rodriguez, David Segui, Alex Rodriguez and Gary Matthews. Out of those eight players, only Canseco and Brown played with the Rangers prior to you becoming team owner in 1998.
On top of that, comments made by Canseco, and now A-Rod, depict the Texas clubhouse as being just short of a steroid safe house. Their testimonies may be exaggeration, but how can we be sure?
I'm not sure if Tom Hicks is telling the truth or not. I'm not sure if Gene Orza is telling the truth or not. I'm not sure if Bud Selig is telling the truth or not. I'm not sure if A-Rod is telling the truth or not.
In other words, I don't know if any commisioner, owner, player representative, or player is telling the truth or not. And that makes them all guilty.
Tom Hicks says he didn't know, and maybe he really didn't. But I'm sorry, Mr. Hicks, that's just not good enough. It's your team, it's your players and it's your clubhouse. It's your responsibility to know. The same way it's a parent's job to know what goes on in their house.
If a teenager throws a party at his house with underage drinking, even without parental knowledge, the parents are responsible. If a child from that party gets drunk, leaves in a car, gets into an accident and kills somebody, the parents who own the house where the party was thrown share the blame. They may not have "pulled the trigger", but they "supplied the gun". This situation is similar.
To hear Tom Hicks speak, it's hard not to think this sounds like a classic case of sour grapes. Hicks signs Rodriguez to what then was the richest contract in MLB history, only to realize that he then couldn't afford to spend money on the Rangers' real need, pitching. The visions of A-Rod putting enough fans in the seats to cover his contract and then some never materialized. Three years later, Texas was forced to ship him out of town to the only team that would take on that contract, the New York Yankees. It's a deal that Texas still hasn't recovered from.
Not to mention that the player the Rangers recieved for A-Rod, Alfonso Soriano, was shipped out of town after only two seasons because of his own impending free agency.
Maybe it's not sour grapes. Maybe Hicks was naive and stupid. Maybe he does feel betrayed and deceived. It's no different from how baseball fansfeel right now.
Maybe Tom Hicks didn't know what was going on with A-Rod during his time in Texas, or maybe he just didn't want to.