So, yeah, this ARod thing.
It is a mess. It is disappointing. It is bad that, once again, this is a big story.
It is bad that the two greatest players of the past 40 years have been implicated in this, along with the greatest pitcher of the past 40 years.
It is bad that, once again, steroids, PEDs, whatever, is the story around baseball right now.
I am glad, at least, that ARod has gone the Andy Pettitte route, is confessing, asking forgiveness, acting contrite. He seems to have learned something from Roger Clemens, it appears.
It may help. Or it may not. Given what a lightning rod ARod is anyway, it may do nothing, and he's going to be hung either way.
I do think the MLBPA screwed this up royally, by not ensuring that the samples were destroyed, as they were supposed to have been.
And I also think it is rather Showaltered that, of all the 100+ positive tests, The People Who Know Things opted to leak just this one name.
I don't know that I have a whole lot else to say on the issue that I haven't said already.
I will say that if, as Richard Justice, Bill Madden, and other writers have suggested, Alex Rodriguez won't be elected to the Hall of Fame because of this, we might as well shut the baseball Hall of Fame down.
The argument is that players in the "Steroid Era" don't deserve to be on the same pedestal as guys like Gaylord Perry, Whitey Ford, John McGraw, and other players who played the game The Right Way and who would never think of bending the rules.
But the reality is, the Steroid Era isn't likely to end in our lifetime. Players have been looking for an edge since baseball was first played. And in the age of modern pharmaceuticals, it is asinine to think that testing is going to change any of this.
We don't know who all has used. Realistically, there's no one in baseball from the last 25 years who can be said to be 100%, no question, without a doubt, clean...particularly given that the one superstar who it seems most folks in the game thought was almost certainly clean has now come up dirty.
If the argument that a player who has used steroids/PEDs/whatever isn't HOF worthy is valid, then there's no point in continuing to induct players in the Hall. Cut it off as of the mid-80s, and forget trying to honor anyone who played after that, who is playing now, and who will be playing at any time in the future.
Because this stuff isn't going away, no matter how many Mitchell Reports or Congressional investigations or pious, sanctimonious proclamations from douchebag owners are generated.
I've talked about this before, how hypocritical it is to demonize Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens while heralding Shawne Merriman, how ridiculous it is to view baseball as a dirty sport while somehow the NFL gets a pass. I will say that I think it has something to do with how personalized baseball is, how it is easily identifiable and recognizable men who are of relatively normal size, while football involves homogenized groups of players who are padded, helmeted, and unnaturally large to start with. I think it has to do with holding baseball players to a different standard than football players...an acceptance, it seems, that unnatural size and strength and shortened lifespans and altered physiques are part of the NFL game, while baseball is thought to be simply different.
But at the end of the day, this is the reality: if you follow competitive sports, you have to realize that some of the athletes you are watching are going to be using PEDs. The tests are always going to be one step, two steps, behind the latest and greatest drugs.
This whole thing makes me think of two quotes...two quotes that, to me, summarize the Steroid Era, the ARod scandal, Bonds, Merriman, and high level sports in general.
I read the first one in a 1991 Kenny Moore story in SI. It is from Speed Trap, a book written by Charlie Francis, Ben Johnson's coach, in 1990, in the aftermath of the Johnson scandal:
"There have always been athletes who were willing to forgo drugs. But these abstainers are unlikely to stop at a single compromise. They tend to be the same people who are unwilling to leave a school or job for full-time training, or move away from friends and family to find the best possible coach, or to make the myriad other sacrifices that go into becoming a world-class athlete. They may be healthier, more well-rounded individuals for their concessions, but they will not reach the top. The best athletes, for better or worse, are the most single-minded ones."
The other one is from The Color of Money, and comes from Vincent Lauria, young punk-ass pool hustler wannabe, mouthing off to Fast Eddie Felson about why he plays nine ball:
"Maybe this game is just for bangers. But the thing is, even if its just for bangers, everybody's doing it.
"And if everybody's doing it, then there's a lot of guys doing it.
"A lot of guys doing it...but someone has to be the best."