Dear Society / Media / Hypocrites,
Please don’t tell me that I can’t love or admire A-Rod simply because he took steroids.
My heroes are not defined by who does or doesn’t take drugs, unless of course they are taken in such excess that they are rendered into embarrassing media spectacles. Sorry Mr. Nolte.
What is so special about baseball that we, as a society, have placed it on a mantle of such lofty ethics?
Don’t get me wrong – I love baseball. I love everything that baseball stands for. There is a simple purity and spirit of camaraderie in baseball that I really don’t see in other sports. However, I think there are standards that baseball players are expected to uphold that are far more stringent than athletes in other sports. How often is the use of performance enhancing drugs scrutinized in the NFL? Look at some of those genetically altered juiceheads, then tell me that the media and league scrutiny is the same.
“What about cycling, Bill? That’s monitored closely and disciplined with extreme prejudice!”
Yes. Yes it is. But I was talking about a sport. Cycling is a form of transportation and nothing more. The fact that they hold competitions does not make it a sport. I’m looking at you too, NASCAR. Can anyone even name the US cyclist that was caught blood doping in the Tour de France a few years ago? I didn’t think so. If you knew that the cyclist’s name is Floyd Landis, I say: “Ha Ha! You pay attention to cycling.”
Back to my point. I’m not defending the presence of steroids in baseball. Truth be told, I look forward to the eradication of drugs in sports…which will likely never happen. But for the time being, in the current drug-addled state of the game, it is what it is. You know what they say, “If you can’t beat them…you’re probably not taking enough drugs“.
My only issue with the steroid debate is when people bring in the ‘hero’ or ‘role model’ argument to the table. I understand people’s frustrations with a players decisions to use performance enhancing drugs. But nobody has the right to say who should or shouldn’t be another person’s hero or idol. If that hero/idol screws up and a kid has to re-evaluate their view of them….boo-hoo. Welcome to being a human being. Throughout your life, people you love and admire are bound to misstep. You will be disappointed by a loved one. It just happens. Do you know why? Because our heroes are human too. That’s right – Heroes screw up, grandparents die, and fried chicken is not good for you. So go put on your jockstrap kid, because life is bound to kick you in the kiwis from time to time.
The simple fact that somebody has taken steroids, or any other kind of drugs, does not implicate them as a bad person or unworthy of our respect and admiration. Some of my biggest heroes have been known to partake in drugs from time to time. Some have even been flat-out drug addicts.
George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Vincent Van Gogh, Hunter S. Thompson, Tim Armstrong, John Belushi, Quentin Tarantino….Dale Berra. The list goes on and on.
Their contributions are no less worthy because they were on drugs while they were at their peak. In all honesty, their contributions were often richer because they were on drugs. Yet, for some reason, athletes are expected to follow a different code of conduct to be worthy of our affection and esteem.
Regardless of what field you’re in, be it athletics, performing arts, publishing, or anything else, if you take drugs and it improves what you do, who am I to complain. In the end, it benefits me as a spectator. If your drug use makes what you do more entertaining for me, then, as Bell Biv DeVoe would say: “Slap it up, flip it, rub it down”.
Seriously ask yourself – If you found out that a firefighter was taking steroids to make him bigger, stronger, and faster, would you think any less of him after he carried you out of a burning building with seemingly superhuman ability? If a doctor takes stolen Ritalin or some other concentration-candy to improve his focus thus giving him the ability to successfully save a loved one’s life (or your life) with a complicated surgery, is he less worthy of your admiration? Do you know how many people House has saved? At least one a week for 6 years or so. And guess what….he was addicted to prescription meds for 5 of those years. FACE!
So, whether I’m listening to music, paying $12 to see a movie, or in need of a strong fireman to carry me down a fire escape, what do I care if the people responsible have a sweet tooth for pharmaceuticals? Yes, I know, women can be firefighters too…but I used the term ‘fireman‘, because if I’m going to be carried out of a burning building, I would feel safer if the person carrying me was a man. There, I said it.
So, as a spectator, why should any of these standards change as they relate to baseball players?
I love watching home runs being hit. The further the better. I don’t even care who hits it. An impressive home run is something to behold. How picky do you have to be to watch that and say, “Wow. That was amazing. I’m so glad I saw that. I just wish he could pass a urine screening“. That would be like saying, “Wow. This buffalo wing is amazing. I’m so happy that there are eleven others just like it. I just wish the cook wasn’t Mexican“.
It’s EXACTLY like that. Isn’t it…?
I understand the arguments and concerns about the existence of steroids in baseball:
- It shifts the balance of the playing field
- It presents the potential of an unfair advantage to the user
- Players that use them present a poor role model to children
- Back acne is unattractive
All of these arguments are valid and should be addressed universally by the league, not the media. Until MLB and the Players Union presents a firm and consistent stance on the testing and penalties associated with drugs (specifically steroids), there shouldn’t be records with asterisks(*) or social outcries for player apologies and pointless press conferences (I’m looking at you Tiger Woods – Not that his press conference was drug related, but that was the biggest sports-centered media waste of time since Mike Piazza told us all he wasn’t gay. But at least the Piazza conference was hysterically awkward and thankfully brief).
So here’s my real point.
I don’t necessarily support the use of steroids, but I do oppose the vilification of the users.
I should be free to love and admire A-Rod regardless of his admission of steroid use.
And regardless of what the media tells me.
But, as it turns out, I hate A-Rod.
Not because he’s admitted to taking steroids, but because he is a douchebag.
He’s socially inept and awkward in the dugout and in post-game interviews – like a cyborg. There’s is nothing genuine about him. He chews his gum like a cow chewing cud. He has purple liver lips…it’s true, look at them – He looks like the love child of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and an Avatar. And he is the most ungracious and unthankful athlete I’ve ever met.
I have now met him twice at signing events. Both events were held this past winter and involved 90 minutes of standing out in the freezing cold waiting for access to the players. The first event was just A-Rod. I went with my buddy who illustrated a caricature of A-Rod and went to have it signed for the ludicrously rip-off price standard market price of $250. Chilled to the bone but anxious to meet A-Rod, we were finally herded through the store to the signing area where King Alex sat at a table surrounded by his entourage. Without ever looking up, shaking our hand, thanking us for coming, commenting on the drawing (of which he was also given a copy of), or showing any recognition of our presence, A-Rod made his quick buck from us and we were swiftly ushered out, all within 2 minutes. We were both shocked and sickened by his aura of entitlement and apathy.
A few months later we went to another signing with multiple Yankee players there, including: Pettitte, Rivera, Joba, Swisher, Burnett, Gardner, and A-Rod. We met each of these players and each one was visibly thrilled and excited by the turnout and took the time to take pictures, engage with us, and thank us for coming. And they even complimented my friend on his illustrations, laughed about Pettitte’s big-nosed caricature, and appreciated his gesture of giving them a copy of their likeness. Everyone…except A-HoleRod. He again dismissed his fans and was clearly only there to make a buck. No time, no effort, no appreciation. Like school on Saturday – No Class.
After it was clear that he wouldn’t look up from the table and acknowledge my presence, I finally did my best Glenn Close impersonation and in my flawless “I will not be ignored” voice, I said: “Alex…Good luck next season. Alex. Alex!! I’ll give you another $5 to look at me!”. I mean seriously, what do I need to do, dress up like Derek Jeter’s ass to get his attention? He finally looked up, and he actually accepted my hand as I all but forced a handshake. So I was able to leave the event with the satisfaction of knowing that I had forced a star baseball player…make that, a star steroid-taking baseball player…to do something he didn’t want to do. For days after, my right hand tingled and cramped, and smelled suspiciously like a combination of Madonna, Kate Hudson, and low tide. So A-Rod may have had the last laugh, knowing that he probably sent me away with an STD.
As you’ll learn in the coming weeks and months, I’m not the most subtle or appropriate person. If you were hoping for a serious take of the steroids issue, take a look at other articles on The Bronx View site. If you are looking for a humorous departure from stats and figures, I look forward to having you.
Thank you all for reading the maiden voyage of The Bill of Rights and Wrongs.
I hope you’ll check back often. And I ask that you leave your sensitivities at the door. This is a light-hearted forum to discuss my thoughts and opinions on what will be a variety of subjects (with the topics and references to baseball and the Yankees often making an appearance).
I sincerely welcome your feedback. I’m a sucker for attention. So whether you love what you read or hate it…drop me a line and let me know.
And so, in the immortal words of Mickey Mantle, or was it Tom Cruise:
“I’m going to go grab a stiff one”
Until my next declaration,
This has been The Bill of Rights and Wrongs