06 August 2013

Get Off Your High Horse: Alex Rodriguez and Performance Enhancing Drugs

I've been following the Alex Rodriguez saga much more closely than actual baseball. Mostly because baseball is boring and unless the Giants make the playoffs the games put me to sleep 100% of the time. 

All the sanctimonious judgment being tossed around in re: ARod is virtually identical to the responses and reactions to Barry Bonds when he was still playing. Bonds ended up finishing his contract but while he was plenty good enough to help a team no one picked him up because of the negative publicity. He has since retired from baseball.

I don't care if Rodriguez took drugs. He's an adult making adult decisions. I don't care if he lied about it to self-righteous crusaders. You shouldn't either. Here's why. 

Where are We?

At the time of this writing that toad Selig has banned Rodriguez for 211 games; Rodriguez is appealing the ban. According to reports, Selig wanted to ban him permanently. Bear in mind that Rodriguez has never failed a drug test (still hasn't), and that his main transgressions to this point are a) 'obstructing' the MLB investigation, b) lying to investigators, c) taking testosterone and HGH, and (especially) d) being ARod.

The investigators to whom Rodriguez lied obtained their 'damning' evidence against him by suing the person that provided him with the drugs. The pseudo-doctor was broke and living on someone's couch so he had little choice (and much incentive) to give MLB everything they wanted. They have had the knives out for Rodriguez for years, and he knows it.

Rodriguez contends his ban is related to the massive amount of money that baseball's richest and most profitable team owes him over the next couple years. If he is banned he doesn't get paid. I'm not sure that's part of it, mainly because Selig is your ancient, tone-deaf, out of touch great-uncle that people still let drive the car because he throws a tantrum when you take his keys away.

How Did We Get Here? Or: Selig is a Hypocritical Asshole

So why is Selig swinging for the fences now?* The Toad is trying to burnish his legacy after presiding over the steroid era, culminating in 1998 when McGwire and Sosa hit gobs of home runs and made Barry Bonds, a man on the far side of reasonable at the best of times, so jealous that he vowed to start taking drugs too. Bonds would show those clowns what it looked like when a truly great ballplayer used every means at his disposal to reach his full potential. His 2000-2004 numbers belong in a video game.

Selig has to deal with that, and he wants to be known as the guy that 'cleaned up' baseball instead of the guy that let steroids run rampant and rewrite the record books.

So What?

What really gets up my nose is that's what ballplayers have been doing for generations: doing everything they can to be the best that they can. The financial incentives are so great that they would be crazy not to. (Rodriguez has the richest contract in major league baseball.) So the new guys have advantages that the legends didn't have. Babe Ruth didn't have the drugs and training they have today, but Bonds had to play against anyone good enough, not anyone good enough that was also white. Plus: relief pitchers.

Also getting up my nose is the fact that baseball coats itself in saccharine and treacle and serves itself up as a some kind of holy sacrament. Fuck that. Baseball has a long history of drug use, drug abuse, institutionalized racism sanctioned at the highest levels (fuck you very much, K.M. Landis!), and cheating of any and all types. All the preaching and righteousness ignores this sordid history.

'Performance Enhancing' Drug: What the Fuck Does That Even Mean? (Hint: Nothing)

Replacing a blown tendon in your elbow with a tendon from a cadaver: perfectly legal. Taking enough Advil to blow out your kidneys: also legal. Greenies: legal -oops, my bad. Those were legal back when Willie Mays was doing his thing. Not any more. Also legal: as many painkillers as you need to take the field and perform at your best. Toradol? Hellz yeah. And that's the stuff you can't buy over the counter. I could go on but you get the idea. Eat all the caffeine and creatine and protein supplements and whatever else. But don't take HGH or testosterone (unless prescribed by your doctor for recovery). Because that is against The Rules.

This makes no sense. MLB is drawing an arbitrary, hypocritical line and enforcing it like the Spanish Inquisition. Any player or writer that raises a peep about ARod being 'dirty' is a clown if he's ever taken so much as an Excedrin for hangover or had a cup of coffee before a game or a deadline. There's no such thing as 'clean' or 'dirty'; the rules are a joke. Once you allow a player to take anything then it's all fair game. Losing your mind over what drugs some guy took is shortsighted and dumb.

On that note, all the baseball writers going on and on about what a phony Rodriguez is, and how he's a bad guy, and he can't be trusted, and what an awful person he is, and how he violated the sanctity of the game: please for the love of Ty Cobb put a sock in it already.

Rules to Live By (or: Sports Writers are Bitter Because They're Ugly and the Pay Sucks**)

Stop judging professional athletes that use drugs. Most articles and comments about ARod (and any player that is accused of using drugs) is rife with value judgment and criticisms. Enough. Hate the guy for being a douche if that's your thing, but hating him because he tried to be good at his job is just dumb. So fucking dumb.

If you believe in the sanctity of Baseball with a capital B then you are an idiot. There is nothing sacred about baseball. It is a business. Some employees go about their business differently than others, but most of them want to maximize their earning potential. Some of them are awful people, some are great, and most fall somewhere in the middle. That's because they're people, and people are like that. About which...

If you are over the age of 8 and you thought that baseball players were trustworthy or genuine instead of, you know, actual people with all their inherent flaws and qualities, then you deserve to be disappointed when you find out the truth. (See: Armstrong, Lance) Welcome to adulthood.  Also: you are an idiot.

Where Does that Leave Us? 

Boo ARod all you like. Drugs or no drugs, boos or cheers: He will still be way better at baseball than all but a handful of people that have ever played***. If that bothers you: tough shit.

*Sorry couldn't help it. 
** Quoted from Matt Ufford; he wrote it years ago. 
*** Actually true. 


Anonymous said...

brilliant and engrossing

particularly impressive cuz I don't give a shit about baseball aside from the fact I am a huge fan of barry fan if only cuz everyone else irrationally hates and for some of the very reasons you articulate they hate A-rod

Anonymous said...

i agree with it all. but i am in the think-arod-is-a-douche camp so it is hard for me to care. about any of it. i do actually like baseball. a lot. so throw the ball, hit the ball, catch the ball. and please, call me when whatever is going to happen to arod happens and this circus is over.