No Surprises Here

by John Furgele

So, Alex Rodriguez was a steroid user.  Are you surprised?  Shocked?  Stunned?  I stopped being surprised many years ago.  When Barry Bonds got bigger, and his AB per home run ration went from a fabulous one per sixteen to a cartoonish one per six, it was over for me.  The Steroid Era was in full regalia. 

In an word, I was disappointed.  What boggles me is that Rodriguez knew he had tested positive in 2003, then five years later, went on 60 Minutes, looked Katie Couric in the eye and told her that he never used steroids and never was tempted to use them.  This, after knowing and hiding the fact that he had tested positive in 2003.  That said, Bonds denied using steroids, so did Rafael Palmiero and Roger Clemens, and heck, O.J. Simpson claimed he didn’t commit double murder or assault and robbery.

Then again, should we be disappointed by athletes, or humans for that matter?  Our country has become more and more dishonest each year.  We have bankers lying about where money has gone.  These bankers then got bailed out by the government and then took care of themselves by making sure bonuses and salaries to executives were paid before a loan was given.  We have automaker CEOs bankrupting the Big Three carmakers, then taking private jets to Capitol Hill to beg for money.

We had the Enron scandal, and the Stuart Madoff “ponzi scheme,” so should we be surprised that an athlete, a mere baseball player, would be dishonest?  Why is this such a surprise?  People with far more education than Rodriguez have been caught in a web of lies.  So, to expect a baseball player—even the best in the game—to be above the others is utter nonsense.

The Steroid Era runs from approximatety 1994 to the present and there is no end in sight.  Sure, MLB has toughed up its once non-existent drug testing policy, but they don’t test for HGH and as everybody knows, the cheaters are always a couple of steps ahead of the “cheater catchers.” 

We have seen Bonds and Clemens disgraced, but most were grateful for “A-Rod,” because he was clean and when he eventually passed Bonds, the home run record would be a clean one and would save baseball from a permanent stain.

No more.  No matter what Rodriguez does from here to the end of his career, he is ruined.  There is no doubt that Rodriguez will continue to cement his status as one of the game’s best.  He will get his 3,000 hits, get his 763 to 800 home runs and will bat over .300.  And, despite the drugs, might still be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, but the damage is irreversable.  No matter how clean he insists he is, there will always be doubts, always be those who claim that he is taking HGH or some other undetectable performance enhancing drug. 

Rodriguez says he took steroids from 2001-2003, then stopped.  Why should we believe him?  He might have stopped using steroids, but perhaps he started using HGH or some other agent?  We don’t know and that’s what hurts the most.  Rodriguez, so aware of his place in the game of baseball, will likely swear up and down that he is clean.  He may even submit to monthly drug tests to prove that he is drug free, but it is too late.  The adulterer may stay loyal to his spouse for years after the transgression, but some people will always refer to the reformed adulterer as an adulterer. 

Deep down, Rodriguez knows this.  He may stay clean for the rest of his career, but deep in his inner soul, he knows he is tainted and knows that no matter what he does from here on, he will always be tainted. 

He is not the only one as we await to hear of the other 103 names on that list.  But, no matter.  There will be some players who won’t care if they make the list, but Rodriguez cares.  In fact, that’s Rodriguez’s flaw.  He cares too much.  He cared so much about his numbers, he took steroids.  He cares so much about his image, he wants you to forgive him. 

This is America.  We like to forgive, but we don’t forget and that’s the cross to bear for Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez.

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