*Without fail, one of the most inspirational songs of all time.*
“I’m tough, I’m ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.”
I can’t decide which version I like the best.
Why I’m Sick Of Hearing About “The A-Rod Scandal”: The Playing Field Is A Witch Hunt
As a native New Yorker who is also a die-hard Yankees fan, many people have been asking me about Major League Baseball’s decision to suspend Alex Rodriquez for 211 games due to the information provided to them by the former owner(s) of Biogenesis. Initially I wasn’t going to write about this, but as things have progressively gotten nastier in the media, I have decided to do so.
When the subject initially came up and I vaguely considered writing about it, my brother & I were discussing it on an almost daily basis and since he & I were completely in sync with our feelings on the subject, I felt like it was one I could handle with relative ease.
A slightly unknown fact about me is that, in the past, I’ve worked for a baseball player, so I feel like I can speak on this subject without it being an immense issue. Please be advised that I am writing MY views and opinions and while you may share in them, you may also firmly disagree. You’re entitled to your feelings and opinions, and if you want/need to express your views, please do so on your own blog(s), don’t bombard me with hate filled rants simply because our opinions do not mesh. If you want to debate with me like a rational human being, by all means, there is a comment button. I’m very cool when it comes to discussing a veritable motley’s crew of things, but I will not tolerate rudeness. Disagree, for it is your right to do so, but be respectful.
Obviously people are full of their opinions in regard to this subject, most especially people that aren’t Yankees fans, or even baseball fans for that matter, which is more than a little disturbing, and is often one of those moments when “freedom of speech” starts to get on my nerves. It is in times of this nature where I often want to start suturing people’s mouths shut and taking away their smart-phones and laptops. This is when the assholes all come out from their caves. I find I have little tolerance for it.
I’ve always been supremely fair whenever I write about things like this. Up until a few months ago, I knew very little about this in its entirety. I knew only that Alex was being accused of something serious, but I did not know if he’d truly done anything warranting more than a mere investigation, or what the true nature of it entailed. I figured the worst they’d do was hand down a suspension of 50-75 games and fine him. I was ok with that because, based on the accusations, that’s really all that was warranted. Fine him, suspend him, but for God’s sake, he is NOT an animal to be slaughtered or a person to be stoned. It’s baseball, it’s not the end of the world.
I’m still not 100% sure he did anything because the facts are not sitting in front of me to be analyzed. There are no documents here, no physical proof of a damn thing, no medical reports, no financial documents, just the things Major League Baseball is spewing and spreading to the press like a disease. The more they talk to the media and spread various things to news outlets, the more I feel like it’s a smear campaign. I’ve seen this done to another athlete before when he questioned a team doctors’ misdiagnosis of something very serious, something that nearly got him killed. Incidentally, Alex told a doctor he did not trust him because he never informed him of damage to his hip during the 2012 playoffs, an injury that was severe enough to require off-season surgery. Can you blame him?! I’d have been all over that doctor like white on rice. The treatment the previously aforementioned athlete received by “daring” to question a team’s medical staff enraged me, so maybe some of that anger will creep into this piece and if it does, so be it.
For anyone to ask him to turn over all of his medical records, a request that was supposed to go to his lawyers and was “accidentally” released to the media is another load of shit completely disrespectful and if I am not mistaken, it is a complete and utter HIPAA violation to make such a request. He doesn’t have to give up his rights, tell you his life story, or have any more of his life dragged through the mud to appease anyone.
Despite all kinds of drugs being wide-spread across every professional sport, and anyone scoffing at that statement is either lying to themselves or has been lied to, I see no visible evidence that he has been on performance enhancers during his tenure as a Yankee. He’d be playing a much better game all around if he were, and that’s a very simple fact. If you’re taking drugs that are meant to enhance your natural athletic abilities, then you’re not constantly missing fielding opportunities or constantly striking out. In my family, a missed fielding opportunity is called “an Alex Rodriquez”, I kid you not. There were kids in the Little League World Series playing better third base than I’ve seen from him in years. Should we drug test them too?
The suspension itself is grossly excessive. As a first time offender who openly admitted to taking performance enhancing drugs while he played for the Texas Rangers, I feel like this whole thing is coming ten years too late. You didn’t have a league drug policy back then, but seriously, that’s your big excuse?! If you were going to suspend him, shouldn’t you have done it when he was testing positive repeatedly for PED’s in 2003, policy or no policy?! Because that makes sense, this however just seems like a witch hunt, and that’s exactly what it is. Alex is the biggest name in baseball on the list of players linked to Biogenesis and performance enhancing drugs right now. Trying to make a public example out of him, and accusing him of naming all the other players currently on suspension, is a load of shit. How is he personally responsible for all of their poor decision making along with, maybe, his own?
He has openly stated that he has not used anything since 2003, and that when he did, it was based on pressure to perform due to the $250 million dollar contract the Rangers bestowed upon him, along with all their hopes and dreams of winning a ring. If Alex was batting above his shoe size right now, or above average for him, I’d say they need to be testing him every day and twice on Sunday, but he’s not. If anything, his performance over the past seven years has done nothing, but rapidly decline. I think that has more to do with age and the burning out of the body than anything else. Compare him to other players of his caliber that are in the same age bracket, and there are very few of them that have not taken PED’s at one time or another (whether they will admit to it or not, and the temptation to do so is always there. I’m not saying every single great player in any sport is on such drugs.), and fewer that are playing like they’re 25 when they’re pushing 40.
I both understand and find myself lacking respect for the Yankees organization for the way they have handled the situation publicly. You’re paying this man an outrageous sum of money to play for you, yet the second a hint of a scandal comes out, you’re jumping ship, openly discussing trading him, there’s media speculation (clearly SOMEONE is talking to these people!) that they will try terminating his contract so they can save money on the luxury tax fine the league places on them for being over the salary cap each year (which I am sure is more than made up for in ticket sales and merchandising), and just plain being snide and incredibly disrespectful in the handling of all of this.
Playing Devil’s Advocate for a second, if the roles were reversed and it was Derek Jeter being accused of this, the entire organization would be up in arms. They’d defend him to the death, or they’d cut him and let him bleed on the field. That’s how it works. You may be a part of a team, but at the end of each day, you are still expendable. It’s a business. Even if it means they have to find five people to “replace” you, they will all sleep like babies regardless. They really don’t care how it looks, sounds, or how it affects your reputation. They will send you out like a lamb to slaughter. I’ve always found it incredibly disgusting.
Playing in New York is very different from playing in Tampa, St. Louis, or Kansas City. While most major cities are behind their sports clubs with a ferocious passion, New York fans are supportive, passionate, and, at times, slightly rabid. I can’t tell you how many times I have personally threatened to rip a pitcher’s arm off and beat him with it for screwing up a game. In the same vein, if the team had been hitting, maybe it wouldn’t have looked like such a major fuck-up on his part, whoever “he” may have been at the time. I love David Cone, but when it was time for him to retire, I was sad to see such a brilliant pitcher lose his arm to the extent that he did. However, I didn’t want him out there risking further injury either. I respected his decision. If ever he was on a performance enhancing substance, you would not have been able to tell because he was both consistent and inconsistent in his outings. The same can be said for so many players in so many different sports. No one is perfect every single time and no one wins every single time either.
On a whole, I think baseball players are placed under incredibly heavy microscopes that athletes in other sports aren’t placed under. I’m not saying that is always the case, but in many respects, it absolutely is. There is always going to be some younger ace that they can sign for less money until they have to really start paying up. Considering that the average MLB salary was $480,000 just last year, compared to what Alex makes, it’s an immense payroll savings for the Yankees to have five players making half a million dollars, as opposed to what Alex makes on a seasonal basis. Do the math. To the Yankees it’s “more money, more problems”. Until there’s solid proof in front of all of us, not just media bullshit, judge not lest ye be judged.
For the record, I am not saying it is right to take drugs of any kind. I’ve never taken drugs in my life. I am a former athlete, I have worked for more than one professional athlete, and I’m 100% against them in all forms. When you’re in the public eye especially, you have to be careful in this day and age of cell phone cameras and people recording conversations and video that they have no business recording. You end up being treated as public property, which is unacceptable, but apparently this country doesn’t have a lot of laws to protect you, which i find disgusting.
If you’re in the public eye, have the common sense to keep your nose clean. No drugs, no drunken bar fights, no sex tapes, don’t fucking cheat on your husband/wife/partner, no beating your husband/wife/partner/children, no nude photos “accidentally” leaking onto the Internet, and for God’s sake, do NOT be a douche-bag when you’re being interviewed. Be direct, be terse if you must, but don’t be a blatant asshole because it really makes you look like someone people want to steer clear of, not support and cheer for. No one wants to pay hard-earned money for their children to cheer on a complete and utter jackass. I’ve seen how some baseball players act when they think no one is paying attention. Some of the batting practice and warm-up behavior is disgusting beyond words. I will never forget my personal reaction to a former player’s behavior towards his own hometown fans in Philly. I wanted to throw a bat at him. I won’t name name’s, even though I really want to, but I can say that I lost every ounce of respect I had for him in how he was treating kids that merely wanted a wave or a ball thrown their way. The look on my face said it all, and after that incident, I just couldn’t look at him as a decent person any longer. You’re standing around doing nothing, the least you can do is brighten a child’s day with a wave in their direction or by signing a few autographs. It’s what you’re supposed to be doing as a person placed in the position of role model, be an adult about it.
If you’re an athlete, know that PED’s break your body down so badly that it is almost guaranteed that you will die young. It will destroy your bones, enlarge your heart, and cause other problems as you get older. You may feel like a God in the moment, but you will live with severe regrets the second you are no longer in your sport of choice. If and when you ever test positive for said substance, or you’re considering “trying something out to help give you an edge”, just think of Lance Armstrong. People adored, respected, and revered this man until the blood doping scandal was a fact he admitted to. He was then stripped of all the accomplishments he’d achieved, and publicly humiliated his sport, family, friends, and fans. That is not something anyone should aspire to.
I know this might come off sounding like I’m the biggest Alex Rodriquez fan (I refuse to call a grown man A-Rod) and/or supporter, but the truth is, it’s been years since I’ve truly liked him. However, I noticed a shift during Sunday Night Baseball a few weeks ago when the Boston Red Sox pitcher for that evening’s game (whose name escapes me, because he was completely unmemorable, but clearly a dick. I refuse to look it up and mention him by name because he’s an undeserving dirt-bag. I am glad to hear he was suspended for what he did.) had the sheer gall to hit Alex during the 4th pitch of the 2nd inning. Throwing the ball behind his leg was enough with the first pitch, backing him off the plate was fine, but hitting him in the ribs? Not fucking cool!! Alex was so calm, collected, and reserved, which made me proud of him, but I just about lunged off my couch, hostility raging, as if he’d just personally harmed my brother. I said some pretty vile things that night, all of which I own (and won’t repeat here). When Alex hit that home run in the 6th inning, it was basically him pissing on the pitcher’s mound at Fenway Park, and I was proud & thrilled. That’s when i realized that I do indeed support him.
All this crap is going down and it continues to spread daily like wildfire, but I’m going to choose to remember Alex when he first started playing, because he was a sweet kid then and even though he’s clearly got some questionable morals and ethics, that’s really none of my business. I am not married to him, I do not share children with him, and I don’t have to live with him. How he plays the game, represents his team, and treats his fans? That matters. If he’s guilty, he’s going to have to suck it up and serve his time, though I hope for a reduced suspension. If he’s found not guilty of all these accusations, I don’t ever want to hear anyone utter a bad thing about him unless he goes out and shoots animals and small children, ok?
For those of you that want to see the man hung out to dry, ask yourself if you’d want your child treated that way before you start throwing stones.
I’m going to support Alex, whether he is guilty or not. If he is guilty, the only person he harmed is himself. He hasn’t harmed baseball or affected the future of the game, and for anyone to say that is just plain ridiculous. There will always be drugs in professional sports. Anyone who denies that is in for a seriously rude awakening. No sport is 100% drug free. If he’s not guilty, I want every player that’s been Tweeting in judgement of him (and a long line of comedians who have been using him as their public punching bag) to be lined up to kiss his ass.
If this had never been made public, no one would be psycho-analyzing his every move, every word, his on-field performance, his injuries, his off-field behavior, or anything else. He would simply be the third baseman of the New York Yankees, one of the most hated and beloved franchises in all of sports. Criticize him all you want, he’s made his money, he has a World Series ring, and he earned every single Gold Glove at shortstop. He’s always been a talented player. If ever that was enhanced by PED’s, so be it. Because if ever it was, he won’t be the first and he certainly won’t be the last.