Sports to the Nth degree: Baseball’s next top model is A-Fraud

David Taintor

Another column about A-Rod’s positive test and admission to using steroids? Yes. Ok, fine, for you sticklers, “performance enhancing substances.” Shocking? No.

Anchors, reporters, columnists and “that guy” have been ranting about Alex Rodriguez breathlessly, or more appropriately, bloglessly, since the article in Sports Illustrated, saying Rodriguez was another Bonds or McGuire.

I’m tired of the subject myself, but people are focusing on the wrong things.

Rodriguez is the best player in baseball. Period. That’s hard for me to say, given the fact that I can’t stand seeing the Yankees win. I’m Minnesotan through and through and would kick a puppy to see the Twins win another World Series, but I still respect sheer talent. Rodriguez is the epitome of talent.

But he shot himself up with “performance enhancing drugs” didn’t he? Yes, he did. However, people are acting like he led the team through a scandal of fishing with dynamite for wins.

But Texas likes things big, and for those three years, that included losses. The Texas Rangers, you know, the team he played for those three years and used banned substances, came in last place every year. So leaving legacies, records, images and the purity of baseball out of the picture, was this three-year time period really that big of a deal? He was paid $73 million just to play three years and leave. Just considering that, was it anything more than a horrible investment by Texas?

Considering the rest of his major league career, which began in 1994, the 2001-03 “enhanced” seasons are in no way a defining point for him. A-Rod’s career is not a bell curve centering on those three grossly overpaid years in Texas. Steroids do not have lasting effect either, so taking them for three years won’t affect him in the coming season.

Aside from the drama and absolute media scrutiny taking the pedestal from beneath his feet, A-Rod remains the player others aspire to be.

As for actual steroid use, is anyone really that surprised? I wasn’t. I go to Twins games as often as possible and was lucky enough to have a great seat on the third base line last time the Yankees played in the Metrodome. I joked with my friends that this third baseman belongs in the NFL or the Roman Coliseum. He’s huge! He’s amazing! Weren’t there allegations before?

Yes, there were suspicions – often. But A-Rod was clean and through the amazing stats he began putting on the board, he was beginning to be seen as a potential legend. “He’s going to beat Bonds and McGuire,” people said, “and he’s going to do it clean.” Well, he has that little blip on his record now and the people who said those things are hurt. That’s why this is such a big deal.

Like a new girlfriend, we thought she was clean and fell in love. In our naiveté, we learned something that hurt us despite our love – she contracted something eight years ago. Regardless of the fact she’s been over it and clean for five years, we’re still angry. But if we actually love her, we’ll forgive her and she will be ever grateful and we’ll die happy together.

Ok, so that analogy is ridiculous, but I hope you get my point. He messed up and he apologized. We ought to forgive the offense and go on enjoying baseball with one of the most talented players ever.

But the hype won’t allow it.

He’s under attack for apologizing too. People are saying it was too well-versed and polite. Of course it was rehearsed, he did it at a press conference! Other are saying it’s not enough and he should pay up. One column I saw was calling for nearly half of the salary he was paid for the 01-03 seasons – $62 million. Some may think this is fair, but don’t you think that’s a little too irrational considering the columnist was basing this on purely home run averages?

As for modern day baseball, again, is it that surprising? Again, I say, no.

With a critic’s label, “The Steroid Era,” one would act less shocked. Baseball players taking steroids is now as common as Brett Favre saying he’s going to retire. It happens all of the time! Rodriguez is just another name and Sports Illustrated has 103 more names under the covers. Are we going to react as harshly towards them as we are towards A-Rod?

But people still want to see Hank Aaron’s record broken by someone untainted by steroids. It will happen. Records are made and broken. I say, if Aaron set a record that can only be broken by players oozing with steroids, then hats off to Aaron.

While we may be desensitized towards steroid use, I’m not endorsing it or just shrugging it off. I think the league should enforce stricter policy on the matter, not call for rolling heads and ruined legacies. I’m just saying we ought to respect players for their natural talent, even if they have a blip of VD or steroids on their record.

Baseball has always been called the great American pastime, why can’t it still be that? Why can’t we still enjoy it for the great game it is?

Knox is a senior print journalism major and sports editor of The Spectator.