Tuesday, February 10, 2009

VSR: On A-Rod and Baseball

The great clean hope for baseball is dirty. A-Rod admitted that he took performance-enhancing drugs from 2001-2003 with the Texas Rangers. Funny how the Rangers gave us two of the biggest stories of the decade – they gave us George Bush (their former owner in the 90’s) and now they give us BALCO south, the chemistry lab of Jose Canseco, Rafael Palmeiro and now Rodriguez.

*Speaking of Presidents, whoever that reporter was that asked President Obama about A-Rod should have him Press-Corps badge revoked. Here comes the Commander-in-Chief talking about the economy and his stimulus plan and some reporter dares ask him about something frivolous like this??? SMH at the cult of his personality infiltrating the White House Press Corps, I wish Helen Thomas would put that dude in his place.*

Starting with A-Rod, he manned up and apologized for what he called stupid behavior. He blamed it on the pressure to live up to his contract and the climate of the day. Only problems I have are that he said the timetable was “pretty accurate”, didn’t know where he got them from or what he took, and took Sports Illustrated’s Selena Roberts to task for her reporting methods. Other than that, I give him props for coming out with the truth.

Here’s my problem with this whole thing. Folks wanna get mad and say A-Rod is a fraud, blah blah blah. Don’t forget that dude came into the league on fire. That 1996 MVP should have gone to him for killing it in his first full season (.358, 36 HRS, 123 RBI’s, 215 hits). From 1996-2000, he was consistently one of the best young players in the game (going 40-40 in 1998, top-3 in MVP vote in 2000, going 40+ HR, 110+ RBI’s from 1998-2000). My only problem, A-Rod, why do it?

His Texas numbers just look astronomical and you can’t ignore the irony is that his worst year there (2003 – 47 HR’s, 118 RBIs, .298 BA) won him the MVP. His numbers got incredibly great (although Torii Hunter reminded folks in the LA Times today that Arlington is a band-box and hitting bombs there is easy) but it wasn’t like dude was a scrub with the Yankees.

2 MVP’s (including his greatest season in 2007 – 54 HR’s, 156 RBI’s, .314 BA, lowest strikeout total in 8 years – where he carried the Yanks to the postseason), still hitting 35+ HR’s and 100+ RBI’s, average hovering around .300. If dude was clean like he said he was, that’s still quality numbers people would kill for.

My major beef in all this is how that confidential test report was unveiled. Whoever leaked it needs to be arrested for breaking that trust. And WHY aren’t the other 103 names being revealed? It appears that in all this, somebody had a vendetta against A-Rod and squealed on him to dash everyone’s hopes. All of the names need to be released because otherwise this looks like a case of “Calling Out Names” (no Kurupt).

The player’s union deserves blame for not destroying those records. How are you supposed to rep the player’s best interests if you can’t keep sealed records SEALED! They should catch hate for not allowing drug testing in the past and they darn sure better catch hell for this. It’s gross negligence and with this witch hunt to find the cheaters going on, who knows who else is going to see their career come undone.

Maybe it’s because I’m a young cat who grew up on basketball in 1994-95 when baseball was losing fans, but the whole steroids era doesn’t bother me that greatly. It frustrates me how many great accomplishments are tainted but how long were the fans misled by not just the players, but baseball itself. This culture of juicing was allowed to parade so people could either gain an edge or compete with cheaters. I had a roommate in college who told me that guys on his baseball team took stuff because they had to compete with other teams and other pitchers.

More than anything, the whole idea of purity in sports has taken another hit. Baseball is our national pastime because it’s the sport that many grew up with, the sport that was made a myth by radio and a few TV images and the sport that tells a lot about our racial history in this country. It was the sport that famously barred Blacks and Latinos from playing til’ Jackie came along to remind folks of Moses Walker’s journey, then limited how many could be on a team, then got mad when Black athletes dared show their style (believe it or not, Willie Mays caught hell early on for – gasp – diving after balls, playing with ease). It’s a sport of tradition so the gatekeepers are pissed when the rule of order is threatened.

Course, these are the same gatekeepers that refused to vote Mays, Stan Musial, Tony Gwynn, Cal Ripken Jr. and Rickey Henderson in the HOF unanimously and kept Jim Rice and Goose Gossage out for years. *rolls eyes and SMH at the same time*

So pretty much, A-Rod’s revelations have tarnished his career although I would still call him a Hall of Famer and watch what he does. But Monday’s admission of guilt isn’t the only that should be made (PLAYERS UNION, MLB….i’m looking at you and throwing you LA Times’ columnist Bill Dwyre’s Modest Proposal from today’s paper).

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