Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hate the players, not the game

If it hasn’t happened to you, it’s happened to someone you know. Probably in high school. His girlfriend is cheating on him, but no matter how many of his buddies tell him what’s going on, he refuses to believe it. You’ve seen it before.

It’s called denial; love is blind. Deep down, he knows it’s true, but he continues to tell himself otherwise, until the line between reality and fabrication becomes more blurred than Paris Hilton’s vision after a night on the “job.”

I’m the latest culprit. Embarrassingly so.

I knew everyone took steroids. It was like pot in the 60s, coke in the 80s; it was just accepted, at least behind closed (bathroom stall) doors. Not everyone did it, but I was convinced 75 percent of Major Leaguers at least tasted the forbidden juice at some point between 1995 and 2005. I knew the truth, just couldn’t come to grips with reality. I read Canseco’s Juiced, but unlike R Kelly, my mind was telling me yes but my body was telling me no. Canseco was a scumbag for ratting out his is fellow roiders to turn a profit, which was why it was so hard to believe him, even though deep down we all knew McGwire, Sosa, Palmeiro, Bonds, Clemens, [insert superstar’s name here] were guilty of our Pastime’s version of treason.

Just not A-Rod. And Not Manny. They were the naturals. They didn’t need that extra pop. Rodriguez could have hit 50 dingers at scrawny age 19 and Ramirez was hitting October changeups off his shoe tops into the Wrigley bleachers with his eyes closed because he’s just that good. Right? Right? Anybody?

Wrong. The worst parts about this are that A) I’m not that surprised, meaning, B) We all know this is probably Chapter 3 of what could be a double-digit-chapter novel. So who’s next? Pujols? Howard? Pedro? Griffey? Nomar? Ortiz? Would any shock you at this point?

I shutter to think.

I wanted that 2004 Red Sox team to be totally clean; a lone bright spot in a black hole cluttered with cheaters, liars and users. That team changed lives, gave hope to a town labeled “Loserville” for over eight decades. Now what?

Ted Williams is thawing in his frozen grave.

This isn’t about one team, one player or one person. As much as I’d like to blame Bud Selig for turning his head and creating this mess, I can’t do that, either. It’s not Selig or Scott Boras’s fault. Play the blame game as much as you like, but when the dust settles, you have no choice but to turn your fingers around and point them at No. 13. And No. 99. And 22. And 25. And about 103 or so more to come. This is about the players. A generation of money-, number-loving athletes who shoved integrity aside in pursuit of extra digits (both in Benjamins and stat columns), en route to that Hall in upstate New York, a place most of the above-mentioned stars were already headed.

At the end of the day, only one word can describe this so-called Steroid Era: sad. Sad for the fans. Sad for the helpless, feeble commissioner. Sad for the owners and management. But most of all, sad for the players, the role models who cheated to turn $100 million contracts into 200 and 25 homers into 50.

How this era will be remembered in 20 years is yet to be seen. But whatever happens between now and then, I will no longer be surprised. I’m done being naïve.

You should be too.

1 comment:

penzy21 said...

You heard Selig is the commencement speaker right. People want to ask- "Is it ok to cheat in life to get ahead?" haha