Before we get into it, here’s my Arod story:
When the Yankees traded for Alex Rodriguez, I was excited. Actually, excited is a bit of an understatement. A woman I worked with described it as “a constant creepy grin that I wish you would cut out.”Â I also went out and immediately brought an A-Rod t-shirt, which I proudly wore for the first time during a trip to Boston. I was trying to rub it in.
My love of A-Rod lasted about a month into the 2004 season, when I realized pretty quickly that I didn’t like him. Not as a player, but as a guy. He seemed fake and over-concerned with how he was viewed by others. Also, he had creepy purple lips that made it look like he was literally choking all the time. I never wore the T-shirt again.
Then 2007 happened. Alex Rodriguez carried the Yankees for the first couple months of the season. He came through time and again, and even looked more comfortable in his own skin.Â It culminated in me digging into the bottom of my drawer and pulling out that t-shirt and wearing it to a game.
This clearly angered God, who knew that I was not meant to be a fan of this guy. I was not off the subway for more than three minutes before a pigeon unloaded on me. There was bird shit everywhere. I got the hint. I took the shirt off right there and left it in a shit covered heap on the ground in the parking lot.
Now, A-Rod admits he took steroids. I’ve discussed the steroid issue before. My main thesis is this: I don’t care anymore. I don’t want to know about it. In this case, ignorance would, in fact, be bliss. Intellectually, I know a large percentage of major league baseball players were using the steroids for the better part of a decade. Emotionally, I don’t need to know the names. I don’t think I’m alone. Baseball has enjoyed unparalleled success over the past five years, setting attendance records all over the country. Clearly, the steroids issue is not turning people off to the beauties of this simple and majestic game.
So, why do we keep hearing about it? Because the sports media is obsessed with outdoing each other.Â In an industry that is otherwise struggling to keep up with an ever evolving landscape, Main stream media sources are still the only ones with he resources to launch this type of investigative effort. And so, reporters like TJ Quinn and the authors of Game of Shadows have essentially dedicated their careers to milking this last resort story for all it’s worth. And, they do an excellent job. All three are top notch journalists. It’s just that their efforts are being wasted uncovering fraud where no one is looking for it. If they wanted to be Woodward and Bernstein, they shouldn’t have taken jobs with ESPN.
As for the rest of the traditional baseball literatti, their problem is one of historical perspective. Three of the most well established and trusted baseball writers in America delivered the same hypothesis in the wake of the A-Rod steroid revelations. Bill Madden from the NY Daily News, Buster Olney of ESPN and Ken Davidoff of Newsday all wrote that Rodriguez’s chances of making the hall of fame are now essentially nil. That is complete nonsense.
A-Rod signed a new ten year contract before last season, and there is no reason to believe he won’t play that long, or possibly longer. That means he won’t appear on a Hall of Fame ballot anytime before 2023. In other words, there will be people eligible to vote on his Cooperstown worthiness who are currenty Freshmen in college. There is now way to know what A-Rod will accomplish over the next ten years, nor is there anyway to predict the metrics by which future baseball writers judge the hall worthiness of candidates. If they’re anything like me, and the probability is more likely that they are, the steroid allegations will be a minor consideration. Again, this is not to downplay the way the current generation of baseball writers feel, nor does it mean that their votes against players who have tested positive will not be based on genuine conviction. It simply means that by the time those votes are cast, they will more than likely be in a minority among other baseball writers.Â They feel like they’re protecting the game, in order to preserve the legacies of their own flawed baseball heroes who populated the game during the 60′s, 70′s and 80′s. That sentiment has a very definite statute of limitations.
So, where does this leave me and A-Rod?Â Exactly where we started. I don’t like him and I don’t trust him. But his use of steroids five years ago does nothing to alter my opinion of him. More importantly, though, the greater steroid issue does very little to affect my love and enjoyment of the game. When push comes to shove, it’s still about that split second between the release of the pitch and the crack of the bat. Within that second exists the promise of endless possibilities. Its the thin line between absolute joy and unspeakable disappointment.Â And then, it all happens again, just a moment later.Â And no amount of journalistic digging, talk radio debate or contemplative hand-wringing will ever change that.