In the catbird seat... What do we do with A-Rod?I don’t suppose it should come as much of a shock that as the new baseball season opens, the talk of the town isn’t pitchers and catchers reporting, it’s who has been rumored to be taking what illegal drug.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
I don’t suppose it should come as much of a shock that as the new baseball season opens, the talk of the town isn’t pitchers and catchers reporting, it’s who has been rumored to be taking what illegal drug.
Now it’s Alex Rodriguez who is, if you’ll pardon the expression, under the microscope, for his admission that he took performance enhancing drugs right after signing his first mega-contract with the Texas Rangers.
Rodriguez has admitted that he was using banned substances from 2001-2003 in order to justify the huge contract he received. The leaking of results from a positive test have made it certain that one of the players considered a virtual cinch to join the 700-homer club will now be forever known as “A-Roid.”
According to published reports, 104 players failed tests in 2003. Reaction to this news has been understandable. Baseball’s “steroid age” has now thrown the results of every significant achievement on the diamond into question – and every muscular young slugger who comes through the system will now undergo extra scrutiny due to the events of the last several seasons.
Some in the game, such as current Dodger manager and former Yankee manager Joe Torre, have talked about baseball needing to regain the trust of its fans. And as a man who has managed three of the bigger names implicated in the steroid scandal – Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and now A-Rod – he’s in a position to know.
Clearly, baseball has an issue. The national economy isn’t conducive to people spending big bucks on baseball games – and perhaps even less so if some fans aren’t assured that the playing field is level. Trust in the integrity of the product is vital.
And since baseball – and all professional sports for that matter – is about making money, it’s quite possible that the steroid issue and any corresponding difficulties with fan trust may hurt baseball where it matters the most, in its collective pocketbook.
Leaving aside that issue for a moment, the baseball purists are also wondering what should happen first to Rodriguez and second to the baseball record book.
There are those who want Rodriguez suspended. However, during the time he took the substances, they weren’t illegal under baseball’s collective bargaining agreement. Their legality under Federal law is an entirely different matter, but it’s not seen as likely that Commissioner Bud Selig will be able to retroactively suspend Rodriguez.
Provided he’s clean at the moment, that makes sense to me. What shouldn’t happen, though, is for the record book to contain records by players who are known to have broken the rules. The games have been played. The team records and statistics were generated on the field of play. And since we don’t know who failed their tests, there’s only one thing to do.
The record book needs to be wiped clean as it regards people who have admitted using performance enhancing drugs. Surely, that’s not an easy task – and in America, you are innocent until proven guilty, of course – but if the end goal is to maintain the integrity of the game, it’s the only way.
As is always the case, though, there are other issues – for example, the 2003 testing was supposed to be secret but was leaked to media and the BALCO grand jury subpoenaed the results, leaving the issue of their leaking an issue of law as well – but the cat, as they say, is out of the bag.
The question is now: what will be done about it?