Many people have let me down in life. Barry Bonds was the first person to do that.
When I was younger, around the age of three or four, I began to watch baseball. Around that time, in the late 90s and early 2000s, Bonds was the best player in the game. He made hard contact with every ball that he hit, hit gargantuan home runs, and got intentionally walked even when there were no men on base.
Being new to the game of baseball, I began to love Bonds. I wiggled my bat as he did, and when I hit home runs in the backyard games of Wiffle Ball, I immediately dropped my bat and raised two fists straight up in the air. I watched Bonds in the World Series. I collected all of his baseball cards. I even nicknamed my Wiffle Bat "Mr. Bonds".
Then, as the decade progressed, the superhero of a baseball player that I love began to fall from grace. People no longer liked Bonds. He was accused of using steroids, and opposing fans booed Bonds mercilessly every time he stepped into the batter's box.
I then realized that Bonds was doing steroids and that he wasn't the nicest guy to be around. I no longer cared about his accomplishments, and I didn't witness his 756th home run until a year ago, when I was looking for hitting tips on the Internet.
Bonds let me down.
When I was a little snip, and I was still new to the game of baseball, Roger Clemens was my favorite pitcher.
I admired his fierceness and flaming fastball. He was, in the opinion of many, the best pitcher in the majors.
Then Clemens had a steroid controversy. Then came the Mindy McCready controversy.
Clemens let me down.
My two preschool heroes let me down.
I always followed baseball, ever since I knew how to watch television. Even though my infancy heroes let me down, I never gave up on the game.
Then came the times when my age was no longer a single digit. I became interested in bio-mechanics and sabermetrics, and I turned into the most die-hard baseball fan of my age. I watched every single Pittsburgh Pirate game. ESPN and MLB Network were my channels of choice.
I watched baseball as much as a drug addict does meth.
As I learned about rationalization, I began to form opinions of the best players in the game. In my opinion, the best players were Texas Rangers' outfielder Josh Hamilton and Giants' pitcher Tim Lincecum.
Hamilton and Lincecum soon became my favorite ballplayers.
Unfortunately, Hamilton and Lincecum also let me down (somewhat).
Hamilton, whose drug addiction and fall from grace was well-documented, became a good Christian and began to tear up the AL with his timely RBI and monster home runs. He gave public speeches and became one of the most revered athletes in sports. At the time, Hamilton was an excellent role model for young children.
But, as you know, Hamilton isn't perfect. Last winter, he had a relapse, got drunk, and partied with scantily-clad women in Arizona.
He never said he was going to lead a perfect life after he was done with drugs. No recovering addict can. Hamilton owned up to his relapse, took responsibility for it, and I see no reason to stop rooting for him.
Lincecum, who has captivated many people with his utter dominance on the mound, made a dumb mistake that you would expect from a person just out of college. Lincecum was caught with a small amount of marijuana during a traffic stop in his home state of Washington Oct. 30, 2009, nearly a month before he was awarded his second consecutive NL Cy Young award.
He also owned up to his mistake, and proclaimed that it wouldn't happen again.
As you can see, we will never see a squeaky-clean athlete again.
We will never see the perfect "role model" athlete again.
There are too many temptations in the 21st century. Athletes are just as famous, if not more, than your average movie star or business mogul. Ballplayers can get women, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, whatever whenever they want.
The two athletes closest to being the perfect "role model" athlete are Tim Tebow and Joe Mauer.
Tebow, whom everyone but Florida Gator and Denver Bronco fans hate, has resisted all of the temptations that the average athlete can get. Tebow doesn't drink, do drugs, smoke, or even chase girls.
On the field, Tebow does not taunt other players. He simply does his job. He works his tail off each and every day. Tebow knows that children are looking up to him. He knows what is expected of him, and he doesn't screw up.
Mauer is another "role model" athlete. He is a hometown boy, playing for his native Minnesota Twins. He gives credit to other players, and he is genuinely a nice guy.
However, those are just two of many athletes that do well.
Hamilton and Lincecum can still be considered "role models".
After all, nobody is perfect, right?