Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A-R*D: "I was young... stupid... naive"

My take? I have much more respect for a player that fesses up than a player who thinks we can't see through the fog of fame, fortune, and self-promotion.  I give him credit for admitting his mistake quickly instead of dragging baseball through the mud for weeks, months or years.  Of course, no one will ever believe another word he says about anything controversial. Starting with not knowing exactly what he took.  His Hall Of Fame chances seem about even with his Hall of Shame chances at the moment. Even if HOF voters eventually forgive this character flaw, the media never will.

Seems to be a given that most professional ballplayers in that era "enhanced".  You can bet a significant percentage of current players are still trying to stay just ahead of the game's ability to test for whatever substance might give them an edge. Ultimately, life will sort the cheaters into two groups.  Those who are dumb enough to be caught by their own lies but talented enough to compete and those whose cheating brings them down. For the latter, maybe it will be a steady and humiliating decline as they try to compete with the first group for the privilege of a roster spot. Maybe it's a tendon that can't keep pace with the other enhanced body parts that ends a career. Maybe it's a medical malady that doesn't show up until a player is old enough to put decisions made in their teens into perspective.  As Alex seems to be doing now.

Those who continue to cheat after the steroids era live a life of keeping their stories straight and learning that those they thought they could trust may not really be friends after all.   Did you hear about the kid from Fernley, Nevada that wanted to play football for a Division I school so badly that he faked his own acceptance?  He got away with it just long enough to bring down a bunch of well meaning supporters.  A web of deception is pretty easy to unravel in the information age. Especially with our societal urge to see enormous egos reduced to rubble. Staying a step ahead of detection must be some kind of life.

The kid from Fernley caved under the pressure, admitted he'd screwed up, and was worth a second chance.  He's now trying to regain respect and rebuild his character on a much smaller Junior College stage.  

Perhaps It's time for the "My Bad Era" in baseball. Fess up, receive amnesty, submit to frequent testing. Show us you don't need the stuff to be one of the 750 lucky enough to make a major league roster.  Live with the asterisk. Fail to fess up, get caught, and you're out of the game. Period. No more second chances. Like it or not, MLB players are role models to other young ballplayers who don't have enough life experience to put a teenaged decision into perspective.  It's part of the responsibility the pros accept when they deposit their paychecks.  We're all tired of the doping issue.  We want to move on. Doing so by ignoring it is not the right answer.

America's got more important things to do. 

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