So Alex Rodriguez admitted to using “performance enhancing substances” this week, apparently letting down millions and millions of his fans, not just in New York, Texas and Seattle but all over the world.
But fear not: the New York sports media has ordained themselves avengers of this hoax pulled on the sports fans of the world. Yes, the sports writers of the New York tabloids—I mean papers—this week cast a dark shadow over the city as they rode their high horses straight towards A-Rod’s black heart to drive a stake through it and score a victory for the purity of the game.
In a way Joe Torre already loaded the gun for them a few weeks back by throwing the term “A-Fraud” into the public consciousness—of course the New York Post decided to take an extra classy step and up the ante to “A-Hole” as their headline.
Writers around the area have painted A-Rod as the destroyer of all the things everyone has ever loved about the game and then conjured up images of fathers and sons throwing a ball around in the back yard, and warned against kids in Little League being so influenced by his bad example that they might start roaming the playgrounds trading their lunch money for a briefcase full of HGH.
They talk about how they feel let down, that A-Rod was the hope to catch and pass Barry Bonds and make sure that his “fraudulent” record was not at the top of the list.
And then they bring up names like Hank Aaron and Roger Maris and how their records should be reinstated—how the books should be wiped clean.
Now, some of these points may be valid, but to listen to writers—most of them grown adults—make savage, emotional pleas for A-Rod’s head is a little silly.
It’s kind of hard not to believe that a few champagne corks didn’t pop in editorial meetings when this story broke over the weekend.
Traditionally February is a bleak month for sports, and the prospect of sucking out of Michael Phelps’ magic bong or plucking more controversial passages from Joe Torre’s book probably seemed like a grim reality to most writers until this pot of gold fell into their laps.
Make no mistake—A-Rod can hit another 500 home runs, win a fist-full of rings, and take a drug test before and after every game for the next 9 years and he will still have a giant bull’s-eye on his back because of this.
Because ultimately the real fraud here is the sports media. So everyone who has covered baseball in the last 10 or 15 years isn’t shocked or disappointed by the fall of such stars such as Bonds, Mark McGuire, or even A-Rod?
In all that time no one who had played the game and juiced, sans Ken Caminiti and Jose Canseco, was willing to talk with a writer and name names? There wasn’t enough evidence around McGuire and Sosa, even with McGuire admitting to using Andro, to maybe dig a little deeper?
We were left to “tell all” books by supposed insiders.
If these writers were really interested in preserving records, and saving the sanctity of the game they would have pushed the issue when it should have been pushed.
Maybe they were afraid of not receiving exclusive interviews, or getting denied clubhouse access which would threaten their livelihood and that is fine, but then don’t turn around and wonder how this could have went on for so long.
Maybe they, like the fans whose honor they are so quick to defend, were just in awe of the home runs being blasted out of the parks.
The other wrinkle to this story is that A-Rod has never really been a beloved player has he?
Maybe, maybe, in Seattle, but after that he has essentially been a hired gun going to the highest bidder and rightfully ending up with the Yankees. *(that is coming from a Yankees fan).
But he’s never been beloved in New York. In the middle of every controversy since he’s been a Yankee? Yes.
Making his own controversies/distractions whether it is his friendship with Derek Jeter, his wife wearing a profane shirt, hanging out with strippers in Toronto, having some kind of bizarre relationship with Madonna? Check.
Not to mention all of his struggles in the postseason or the dreaded “runners in scoring position” at-bats where, if he fails, he gets booed like a member of the Red Sox.
No, A-Rod’s never really been role model material, and many of these same writers have been quick to point that out so maybe it’s time to dial down the outrage a little.
The fans will let A-Rod know how they feel about him, and one would think it won’t be any different than it ever has been: If he’s hitting they’ll cheer—if not, they won’t.
It’s almost insulting to the intelligence to prey on warm and fuzzy feelings of childhood and putting athletes on a pedestal. Most people realize that professional sports are a business, and that perhaps a multi-millionaire jock is not the best example of a role model for children.
This stretch of baseball has not affected fan attendance—in the end people watch baseball, and sports, to see incredible things, not to absorb the morality of the people doing it.
Or writing about it.