Monday, February 9, 2009

More A-Rod

If you're looking for a thoughtful take on the A-Rod situation (and profanity free!), try:
  • King Kaufman
    So maybe the records from that time -- which for all we know is still going on, since the cheaters are always ahead of the testers -- are tainted. But they aren't any more tainted than the records from the time when baseball was segregated.
  • Rob Neyer
    I hope Alex Rodriguez didn't cheat. If we do find out that he cheated, I will wish that he hadn't. But whatever happens, I'm not going to change my opinion that he's a great baseball player. Like many of the greatest players, he'll do whatever it takes to be the best player he can be. For a stretch of five or 10 years -- and yes, perhaps even today still -- being the best player could have meant cheating. Maybe the cheaters were wrong; that's the direction in which I lean, probably because I've got a streak of the moralist in me. But I will not sit idly while great athletes looking for an edge -- not all that different from the many generations before them -- are demonized by the high priests of baseball opinion. I will not.
If instead you want some hysterical, over-the-top reactions, try:
  • Jayson Stark
    In baseball, we love our numbers. And we love our heroes. And that brings us to Alex Rodriguez, a man who has committed a crime he doesn't even understand:

    A crime against the once-proud history of his sport.

    A-Rod didn't commit that crime alone, of course. In many ways, he is just the latest, greatest face of a mass conspiracy that has now succeeded in obliterating the quality that used to separate baseball from the rest of the sporting jungle.

    Once, the numbers of baseball used to mean something special and magical. And the men who compiled those numbers were transcendent figures in American life.

    But not now. Not anymore.
  • Peter Abraham
    At this point, anybody who played the game in the last 15 years is guilty until proven innocent. Nobody gets a pass. Rodriguez is the most physically talented player in decades. If he decided he had to cheat, everybody else has to be a suspect. Don’t forget, there are still 103 names out there just waiting to be leaked.

    Mike Mussina went from being bounced out of the rotation to his first 20-win season. Suspect. Mariano Rivera never seems to take a step back. Suspect. Derek Jeter plays every day. Suspect. Joba Chamberlain sure throws hard. Suspect. Two years ago you would bet your house on those guys being clean. Would you bet $20 now? You can’t be sure about any player, not even the supposed good guys. If you are, you’re hopelessly naive.
Mr. Abraham's opinion and Mr. Stark's opinion are exactly why I can't stand the steroid saga in baseball. It's not that I condone steroid use, or that I don't view steroids as cheating, or that I think we shouldn't care. I just don't see why steroid use is a bigger problem than segregation, game fixing, gambling, bat-corking, ball-scuffing, or any of the other ethical problems that baseball has faced over the years.

Baseball players aren't heroes. They never have been. That's not to say that some aren't admirable. I'm sure there are good men playing baseball. But on the balance, baseball players are actually just like you and me and the rest of humanity.

If you can say that you've never cheated on your taxes, never illegally downloaded a piece of software, a track of music or a movie, never used any sort of recreational drug, never lied to a boss, coworker, or business partner, never cheated on your spouse, and never driven drunk, then you can go ahead and get up on your soapbox to decry baseball players for failing to be saints.

The rest of us should probably remember that it is in human nature to cheat when it will benefit us. That doesn't make it right. That doesn't excuse anyone for cheating, but it should give us pause when we set out to villify a select group of people simply because their job is higher profile than ours.

4 comments:

D.Cous. said...

So, you're telling me that Peter Abraham's bit isn't hyperbole? It seems like it is.

John Lynch said...

Cous, unless my sarcasm detector is seriously broken, I'm afraid you've lost me. Peter Abraham's comments are clearly under the "hysterical, over-the-top reactions" category. It seems like hyperbole to me too.

L. H. Lynch said...

Did I ever tell you that one study in the "Predictably Irrational" book I listened to that was about cheating? The conclusion was that everybody cheats, but just a little. It was one of my favorites in the book. The other one I liked was in "Freakonomics," about sumo wrestlers in Japan and teachers in America cheating. Also one of my favorites.

John Lynch said...

Right, that's sort of my point. For some reason, steroids have become the hysteria-inducing form of cheating that we all must detest. I do not understand what makes it so different from all the other form of cheating that everyone engages in all the time.