Maybe Rodriguez's MVP season being tarnished doesn't bother me because I always thought the guy was overrated anyway. It's harder to be upset about the tarnishing of someone you never really even liked. Still, as a fan of the sport I can't help but reflect on the implications of this happening to the game's biggest star. I take no pleasure in seeing A-Rod run through the mud, nor should anyone else (and I'm looking at you, Curt Schilling). This perpetuation of the stigma only further sours the experience of enjoying the game itself.
This is not to say I endorse willful ignorance of who has used performance-enhancing substances, however. Reflecting upon these issues has actually caused me to re-evaluate my position on Pete Rose's eligibility for the Hall of Fame. Were it simply a Baseball Historical Museum, I would not hesitate to insist that Rose's on-field performance would justify his inclusion. But this is the Hall of Fame, and it should be reserved for the best and brightest the game has had to offer. Of course, to back up this point there are numerous HoF'ers of dubious backgrounds who would have to be removed (yeah, my eye's on you, Ty Cobb, you hatemonger). That would never work, so I don't know that I'm qualified to make any recommendation in the matter. All I can say is that I no longer strongly support Mr. Rose's inclusion into the Hall as I once did.
I am not vindictive toward Rodriguez, Rose or anyone else. I believe in letting Rodriguez continue his career. He seems to think that as long as the Yankees win, New Yorkers will forgive him. I would advise Mr. Rodriguez to take a long hard look at his thinking. It sounds awfully similar to his justification for what got him into this in the first place.
Ultimately, of course, this is not just an instance of a marquee player getting caught with his hand in the cookie jar. It's yet another reminder that, as a society, we have worshipped our celebrities. Such falls from grace make front page news (and little-read blogs) in large part because we seem to thrive on knowing everything our heroes do, and partly because we also thrive on seeing them torn apart. We expect them to be gods, and villify them for turning out to be as human as the rest of us. Should Rodriguez, Rose and the rest pay a price for breaking the rules? Of course they should--no one should be above the law, or other such standards. But neither should they be asked to pay the price for our misplaced devotion. Cultus caveo: "worshiper beware."