Alex Rodriguez is expected to play while appealing suspension. I have mixed feelings about A-Rod’s legacy but Major League Baseball needs to look in the mirror when it comes to performance enhancing drugs and let him finish out his career. Rodriguez played during the steroid era and used performance enhancing drugs during the don’t ask, don’t tell days of the late 90s and early 2ks. He was one of the hitters who super-charged the offensive game and in so doing rewarded the owners with packed stadiums and increased TV viewership.
The Game of Baseball, which is to say the business of baseball, reaped untold benefit$ from A-rod’s performances, from the Mark McGuire/Sammy Sosa home run race , from Barry Bonds passing Hank Aaron’s career home run total, and from the many steroid era hitters who swung their way into the record books.
Now the party’s over. Baseball woke up hungover in a strange bed and decided to chew off an arm to slip away quietly instead having morning sex with the very questionable hookup nuzzled under its arm. Baseball drove down Soi Cowboy on the way to the airport in an attempt to relive the sex tour before heading home and realized without the booze and neon, it’s just a filthy street full of dive bars and hookers in a third world country. The Great and Powerful Oz turned out to be a guy behind the curtain with a syringe in his buttock.
Pick your cliche’d (or mixed) metaphor. Fans have complicated feelings about high performance and feel cheated. When we bite into that grilled sausage and pepper on a roll or hot dog at the park, we don’t want to know how it was made. We just want to experience the sensation of flavor.
P.E.D.s have always been about the money. When the sluggers were putting butts in seats, Baseball embraced unprincipled drug policies that rewarded their use with huge contracts and adoring fans. Now it worries whether the steroid hangover will translate into lost revenue, so it pretends to be outraged about P.E.D. use and to prove it is persecuting Alex Rodriguez.
Maybe MLB can learn something about fan behavior from my own experiences as an, uh . . . ebullient youth, no matter how badly I felt while curled up next to the toilet wondering whether to stick my face or my ass into the bowl, I still went out the next night and did it all over again.
Major League Baseball needs to own its role in encouraging P.E.D.s. Instead of scapegoating Alex Rodriguez. I’d like to see MLB set up an Aparthied-style truth and reconciliation commission which offers immunity in exchange for the truth.
History regards witch hunts unkindly. The persecutors almost always end up looking bad. Truth and context will help the game more than show trials.
Without the truth we’ll never fully understand the extent to which performance enhancing drugs were used, which will cast a darker pall on the game than an asterisk next to a player’s name indicating he took performance enhancing drugs.
Only then can Baseball create a forward-looking and sensible regulatory structure to deal with subsequent use.
So I say Free Alex Rodriguez. Let they guy finish out his career in peace and let history judge him instead of the hypocritical owners of Major League Baseball.