Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Roid Rage?

I didn't want to, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to weigh in on the whole steroid issue.

Was I surprised A-Rod was busted for steroids? Absolutely not. You pretty much have to assume that most, if not all of the players who played during the 'Steroid Era' had at least tried steroids. I'm not really buying his excuse, but really, what do I care about why he did it? He did it, pure and simple. Do I forgive him? Absolutely.

Steroids are illegal. Pure and simple. So is smoking pot. It was hilarious to me that Michael Phelps was caught hitting a bong drunk out of his mind, forgetting (which pot makes you do, I'm told) that EVERYONE has a camera phone nowadays. Speeding is illegal. Hiring illegal aliens is illegal. Speeding while buying pot from a roided up illegal alien is illegal. These are all things that we as Americans do. I would be a liar and a hypocrite if I said that I never broke a law (if you know me well enough, you know that I have done so and what was done...).

Now, anyone that knows me well enough, knows that I have a great disdain for Barry Bonds. I think he is a douche sandwich. Always have, always will. I do not like to recognize that he is the home run king, but, sadly, he is. He was one of the greatest players of his 'Era'. Like it or not. Same goes for A-Rod.

We all know that A-Rod doing steroids was stupid and he had the best natural talent since an uninjured Ken Griffey, Jr. We all should also realize that baseball players are very afraid of the next big thing to come along and take their job.

Everyone knows that my favorite current player is Brian Roberts. It is because of him that I cannot crucify Bonds, McGwire, Palmeiro, A-Rod, etc... Roberts admitted to steriod use last year when his name was mentioned in the Mitchell report. It broke my heart then because all of my friends who did not like baseball saw his name in there and said 'wait, isn't that... yeah... what do you think?' I believe his confession and will as long as he stays clean. How do we know that? We don't.

Roberts was in a position battle for the 2nd base job for the 2003 Orioles with Jerry Hairston (one of his close friends) who was also named in the Mitchell report. Larry Bigbie (also named in the report) was also a close friend of Roberts, he even roomed with him at David Segui's (named in the Mitchell report) house. Now, if I were working my ass off and were trying to make a team, where if I make it, my family can potentially be set up for life, and if I don't make it, I'm most likely flipping burgers or selling used cars, etc. and I see that the guy who I am in a position battle with is doing something that is making him better stronger faster... then you know that I'm going to work harder to keep up. There comes a point in time when the human body functioning on its own natual processes cannot keep up with the latest greatest thing out there, and you break down and either 1. give up, or 2. you keep up.

I'm not saying this is the right mentality, but it makes perfect sense. Do I blame Roberts? Hell no. Ok, well, then who is to blame? I am.

I am to blame for the whole thing. It was me, your honor, the one who was vehemently cursing Jeffrey Maier when he pulled the ball out of Tony Tarasco's glove. Me who fell in love with the game because a guy named Cal was so good at what he did that he never took a day off for 16 years. Me who was just as guilty as the rest of us for being captivated by the behemoth sluggers who brought the game back from the brink of disaster in 1998. My passion as a fan is what drove these guys to do whatever it took to stay on that field for one more season. For one more day in the sun. So they could be posters on some kid's wall.

I understand what would drive someone to do such a thing. I understand A-Rod. I'm not happy about it, but I'll get over it. I forgave Brian Roberts a long time ago. I forgive you too.

Competitive advantage is such a crock. I remember seeing a commercial with Don Mattingly when i was a kid saying that the most difficult thing to do is hit a round ball with a round bat while it is coming 90+ miles an hour at maybe your head...

To put up 500+ home runs, you still have to HIT the ball. Ask my brothers... I was a shitty ball player. What I wouldn't give though to be able to play. As much as I dislike Barry Bonds, I respect him for all that he has been able to do in hs career. He hit the ball 2,900+ times. Steroids or not, thats difficult to do. Ok, so, maybe the steroids made maybe 150 of his doubles into home runs... Maybe, you can't prove it. Maybe his homeruns, instead of being 440 feet went 460 because of roids. I don't know that either. You still have to have talent to play the game.

Take any 'clean' ball player today. They have all these fancy diets, high tech training equipment, supplements, B-12 injections (don't borrow one from Miguel Tejada though), etc. Now, rewind back to the 1920's and you have a guy whose parents had the bright idea to name their kid George Herman... are you kidding me? Anyway, you can't tell me that Joe Ballplayer, hell, Joe the Plumber even, would have a competitive advantage over George. He fat, drunk, smokes a lot... Comparing Barry Bonds' numbers to babe Ruth's numbers just doesnt work. Its all nice and pretty to line 714 up to 762 and say OOH Barry hit more, blah blah blah. If Babe Ruth had the same technology, a better diet, no booze... he probably would have hit 1,200 home runs. Especially in the band boxes the players play in today.

Anyway, there is no escaping the steroid era no more than there is escaping the dead ball era or the pitching era (pre 1968). Players have to be judged on the eras they played in. Palmeiro (who HAS to come out of hiding), Sosa, Bonds and yes ARod need to be in the Hall of Fame. No matter what. You can't take their records away. As much as we would like to, we can't. Had Babe Ruth not been gift wrapped a ball that jumped off of a bat, he would have probably 98 career homeruns. People forget that. People forget that Ty Cobb (who was a classy individual in his own right...) hated Ruth and thought his records were crap because of the type of ball being used. 'Any idiot can hit a home run' is a quote I remember reading from him.

In the end, when I look back on this era 20 years from now, it will have settled its way into baseball history. Just like the cocaine controversy (many a player named in that little scandal are in the Hall) it will be accepted in time. We don't have to like it, that just part of the game. By then, we'll be arguing about Player X who had been genetically engineered in the womb should be banned, and it will all start over again.
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