17 February 2009

The Fault Lies Not with the Stars...

So Alex Rodriguez recruited an unidentified cousin to retrieve and inject steroids during his run with the Texas Rangers.  A-Rod expects us to believe that his big, fat contract pressured him to get an edge to prove he was worth it, and you know what?  I actually buy that.  I mean, I can hardly fault the guy for having the same thought I had about the deal: "There's no way he, or anyone else, is worth that kind of money."  Of course, why we're supposed to believe that he somehow overcame that pressure when he was dealt to the New York Yankees and underwent even tighter scrutiny is beyond me, but that's almost immaterial.

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."


  1. I think it bears mentioning (not necessarily to sway opinion, but merely to air complete fact) that there were no consequences to what Pete Rose did involving the Hall of Fame at the time the acts were committed. That was decided later when it was voted by (the name of the exact committee of the Hall of Fameslips me mind) that those on the Permenantly Ineligible List were not formally admissable to the hall of fame. This was done a year and a half after he voluntarily put himself on the list and was obviously done with him in mind.

    I think it just bears noting that consequences were created for Rose AFTER he committed the acts. These were in addition to those (shame, lost wages, loss of job, media scrutiny) attached to the initial admission.

    Just bears mentioning is all...

  2. From a legal perspective, I appreciate the significance of ex post facto. Perhaps the consequences weren't codified, but surely Rose (and everyone else who has played in the MLB) understood the significance of his contract requiring him to agree in writing not to gamble on baseball. I'm not a lawyer, and my blog is not a courtroom, however. Rose really ought to have known better, though.

    I'll forever be a fan for the gracious way he received me in the Reds's dugout during batting practice once upon a time, and I sincerely hope there can be some way of resolving this issue during his lifetime. I just don't know that I can honestly say I still have the same enthusiasm for his cause that I once had.

  3. As you say by the very title of the post, there is a futile nature to actively and obsessively seeking the faults of the gods we have created. Vindictive punishment will fail us in the end, and we have to make more responsible choices ourselves that should hopefully influence better group decisions, a grassroots campaign essentially, and allow the
    contrast of those who stand apart from the value system that develops to force them to make better decisions or worse decisions, knowing the scrutiny those decisions will entail, in regard to how they adapt to the climate of social sect they are within. Karma. And it's already working, as I'm certain that A-Rod's bat has repeatedly suffered painful repair from being sheathed in the sandpaper finish that is surely the hallmark of Madonna's vagina at this point.