The Alex Rodriguez steroid saga has consumed the media for the past several days and will likely be the focal point for some throughout the season. Something about his admission stung me in a way that was difficult to recognize.
We as fans, want our players to be as excellent in character as they are in talent. We want to revere them. We want to look up to them. Yet like us, they are imperfect and for some, the character flaws make the least of us cringe.
Born with incredible talent and fueled with a competitive drive, A-Rod was everything you could ask for in a player. But a great man he is not. Yet seeing his talent, I wanted nothing more than for the man beneath the uniform to match the athleticism on the field.
If I had been more observant and less awed by his skill set, I would have seen the warning signs much earlier. The monumental contract (either the first or the second), I put aside to an overzealous agent, and after all, why wouldn't they want the highest pay possible.
That's the way it works right? When A-Rod shouted "mine" to disrupt Toronto fielders, got into a slapping match with Jason Varitek, or swatted at the glove of Bronson Arroyo, I gave him a free pass; it happened in the heat of the moment.
When the stripper scandal and Madonna details came out, I began to slowly recognize that the player in the game, could no longer be placed on this pedestal I had created in my mind.
Finally as his steroid admission becomes public knowledge, I am no longer blinded by my previous bias. For all his talent, A-Rod, will never be the kind of man worth revering. For all his gifts he has a series of personality flaws and vices that make him merely an entertainer, not a role model.
What we want from our superstars and what we get rarely coincide. We should have been in better position to recognize this with Derek Jeter standing for comparison. We should have been able to note the differences and recognize that these men are not from the same mold.
But in the end, the lesson I take is that we need to be careful of how much we expect from our superstars and where we place our admiration. Finally, when both the man and the player, meet our expectations, we should appreciate how truly special that is...