Defend A-Rod? He cheated, and that's wrong - The Explorer: Sports

Defend A-Rod? He cheated, and that's wrong

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Posted: Wednesday, February 18, 2009 12:00 am | Updated: 1:34 pm, Mon Apr 18, 2011.

As a sportswriter, it is almost a job requisite to read the work of other sportswriters obsessively.

I relish this, and frankly, I would do it anyway, even without the workplace pressure to be informed.

Unfortunately, in the course of this feverish browsing, there are moments where I find myself questioning a majority of my esteemed (and much more accomplished) brethren. It is jarring as a young sportswriter, still wet behind the ears, to view the work of those you admire with something approaching horror.

However, the reaction of many sports-media experts to Alex Rodriguez’s admission of steroid use during the 2001-2003 Major League Baseball season sent chills racing up and down my spine.

About 60 percent of the opinions, whether in column or blog form, seemed to say, in near-exasperation, “Get over it.”

One pundit even went so far to say that cherished baseball records like Hank Aaron’s all-time home run tally (broken by steroid suspect Barry Bonds in 2007) are “not as sacred as everyone says they are.” Another told us to “live in the present.”

Well, at the risk of sounding like an out-of-touch sports bumpkin, “Golly-gee-whilikers” and cheating is wrong.

Those records and statistics are what generation after generation of Americans grew up memorizing and reciting to one another on playgrounds.

In a snowdrift, on a tetherball court or in the cafeteria, if you were a young baseball card-hound, you knew those stats better than fractions or adverbs.

To suggest that nearly five generations of sports fans should ignore the insidious and destructive nature of steroids on their game … not a chance.

In fact, the commissioner, the players’ association and all those vaunted billionaires should be crawling hat-in-hand to those who are still watching.

This is the fans’ game, and in the whirl of increased attendance and high profits due to increased offensive numbers, everyone forgot this.

The players’ association fought drug testing at every turn. Can you imagine if some organization fought against blood-alcohol tests for drivers suspected of DUI? They’d be laughed out of whatever room they were in. MADD and SADD would ride them out of town on a rail.

But, as fistfuls of cash were shoved towards merchandisers for Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa jerseys, and advertisers vied for choice home run-race commercial time, everyone associated with Major League Baseball conveniently ignored the fact that the bodies of its ballplayers were growing into less-green versions of the Incredible Hulk.

I don’t buy the excuse that “everyone was doing it, so to be competitive, A-Rod had to do it too,” as one analyst suggested.

The man, if he’s not lying through his teeth, started juicing when he signed a 10-year, $252 million contract with the Texas Rangers for the 2001 season.

Based on A-Rod’s word, his clean, steroid-free performance before this time actually garnered him that contract, then the most lucrative in sports history.

Why then, if a player is cleanly playing at such a high level as to eclipse the achievements of those taking drugs to make themselves superhuman, would he turn to steroids? Would it not be a greater indicator of his character to wear his drug-free performance as a badge of honor and laugh in the face of those who felt they were forced to turn to performance enhancers?

I think the answer is “yes.”

This column is not about what Bud Selig should do to protect records. It is not about proposals of a “Steroid-Era Asterisk” for future Hall-of-Famers that played during this grim period.

This column is about right and wrong.

I am in no way absolved of guilt. I jumped into the McGwire-Sosa home run frenzy of 1998 with a vengeance, taping (on a VCR, remember those?) every game down the stretch. In the case of a two-channel broadcast, I always went with WGN because I liked that color commentator’s gravelly inflection better.

I still have the tape, made on Sept. 8, 1998, of McGwire’s 341-foot blast off opposing pitcher Steve Trachsel of the Chicago Cubs to break Roger Maris’s record. The rest of the tapes have been lost in the process of moving, but that tape … I kept.

But now, even though McGwire was never proven to be guilty by a court, his complicity in tearing down a record that I knew nearly from birth by nefarious means is clear in my mind.

If there were still any reason to use a VCR, I’d record over that tape with stale sitcoms or a History Channel special on toaster ovens.

When A-Rod’s turn comes and records are on the cusp of being shattered, the solution, for me, will be easy.

I won’t even turn my TiVo on.

© 2014 The Explorer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Tuesday, September 16

Boys Golf (@ 3 p.m.)

Buena, Cienega at Marana

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge, Catalina at Amphi (Silverbell GC)

Catalina Foothills, Pueblo, Sahuarita at Sahuaro

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Mountain View at Rio Rico

Ironwood Ridge at Glendale Ironwood

Swimming (@4 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge, Sahuarita at Desert Christian

Wednesday, September 17

Girls Golf (@ 3 p.m.)

Rincon at CDO

Ironwood Ridge, Desert View at Flowing Wells (Silverbell)

Cross Country (@4:30)

Salpointe at Catalina Foothills

Palo Verde, Nogales at Marana

Rincon, St. Gregory at CDO

Sahuarita, Pueblo, Pusch Ridge at Desert View

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Empire at Marana (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

CDO at Queen Creek

Cienega at Mountain View

Sahuaro at Catalina Foothills

Walden Grove at Pusch Ridge

Thursday, September 18

Girls Golf

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Boys Golf

Sahuaro and Salpointe at Ironwood Ridge

CDO, Rincon, Sunnyside at Tucson High

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Marana at Sahuarita

Ironwood Ridge at Sahuaro (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

Catalina Foothills at Rincon

Pusch Ridge at San Manuel

Swimming (4 p.m.)

Marana vs. Tucson at Quincy Douglas Pool

Cienega at Marana

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Amphi

Catalina Foothills at Sahuaro

Freshman Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Flowing Wells at Marana (4 p.m.)

Desert View at Mountain View

Cienega at CDO

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

JV Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Amphi at Marana

Santa Cruz Valley at Pusch Ridge

Mountain View at Desert View

CDO at Cienega

Buena at Ironwood Ridge

Sahuarita at Catalina Foothills

Friday, September 19

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge at Mt. Carmel Invitational (San Diego, CA)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions

Football (@7 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge at Santa Cruz Valley

Catalina at Marana

Desert Vista at Mountain View

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Cienega at CDO

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

Saturday, September 20

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Marana at Old Pueblo Invite(Lincoln Park)

Mountain View at San Diego

Catalina Foothills, CDO at Ojo Rojo (Chandler, AZ)

Swimming

Marana at Wolves Classic (Chandler High)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions

 

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