Given the number of superstars who used performance-enhancing drugs to bolster their statistics, you can almost chalk up this era as one of the many situations that cause people to make wrong choices.
People abuse alcohol, people, commit crimes, cheat on their spouses, and cheat to improve performance.
Our American society has to be one of the most forgiving group of people when it comes to individuals that make mistakes. But it has been proven time and time again, if people screw up, and then act mightier and holier than the United States of Forgiving Americans, your credibility and popularity will be ruined.
Forget all of the other problems people have, let's simply focus on the steroid era. There are four different categories that quickly come to mind on how people have handled their situation when faced with adversity. And there is only ONE of these categories that is a mistake—to lie and deny.
Who advises these wealthy icons that ride off into the sunset with only a minor dent to their image?
Let me outline these different approaches with specific examples of the status of some of these guilty ballplayers.
The one category I am not including is the player who comes out that they have used without being caught. That is not in the nature of the overpaid professional athletes. That is why they are sneaking around and hiding their dark, seedy actions in the first place.
Jose Canseco might be the only guy who might fall into this category, but he is an absolute freak with very confusing motives.
Category I- Caught and Fully Admit your Mistake
Examples: Andy Pettite, Jason Giambi, Chuck Knobloch, and many others
The majority of players caught fall in to this category. Players that come clean when caught are simply given a second chance. Especially those that took HGH early on when it technically wasn't illegal and there seemed to be a lot of confusion about what was allowed and not allowed.
But the more important point here is that these players were faced with a decision when caught. Either their conscience or their advisers quickly steered them in the right direction. They are just a blip in what we all know is a tainted era and therefore their legacies will only be tarnished by the overall view of this dark period.
Category II- Caught and Partially Admit Your Mistake or Play Dumb
Examples: Alex Rodriguez, Mark McGwire (finally), Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa, and many others
This is a smaller group and includes some of the biggest names ever to ever play the game. It also includes several non-American players who tend to get away with the Sammy "play dumb" Sosa routine.
These guys will leave the game with mixed legacies because they still have an edge of stubbornness and feel better about living with themselves because they didn't fully disclose their misdeeds.
This is even a greater example of our forgiving society—could you follow Rodriguez' story? Did McGwire really come clean? Yet these guys will have their day in Cooperstown.
Category III- Deny 'Til Death
Examples: Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro
Let's put Rafael "look Congress in the eye and bold faced lie" Palmeiro aside for a moment.
Clemens and Bonds had HOF careers prior to shooting up. You could make a case that they were top 10 in the history of this great sport, they have ridiculous 'coin', and they could name their job in baseball for the rest of their lives.
But the single most important thing in their lives when they go to bed every night is that they are never caught. So is this stubbornness or stupidity? In every American's mind, they are caught. Yet, they continue to live their lives as though they are getting away with something.
Wait—breaking news! Clemens just tweeted that he never took performance-enhancing drugs and didn't lie to Congress. Can you believe this guy? Even though thousands of people read that tweet, he didn't change one single person's mind. This is really sad.
Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are two of the most arrogant males that have walked this planet. They don't deserve to be called men.
They have shamed their families, they have toyed with their fans, and they continue to remain in the news and remind us of this era of cheats. I don't hear much more about Tejada, Rodriguez, Cust, Giambi, and Guillen while they are still playing.
And let's not forget about Big(ger) Mac. This guy was in the same category as Clemens and Bonds. So he is the most extreme case of our forgiveness. You can be a high and mighty jerk, and still come out looking okay; not great, but okay.
By the way, can you believe Rusty Hardin makes money for advising Clemens?
Roger, keep on tweeting buddy—I hope you are this persuasive in front of the Federal Grand Jury.