Thursday, June 4, 2015
WRITTEN TO BE VILLAINS & HEROES
I’m not a doctor. I truly can only speculate as to what PEDs can do for an athlete. I’ve been told that they can help a great natural talent become an all-world player. In my opinion the use of performance enhancers have all but made the knuckle ball obsolete. By that I mean once upon a time the perplexing pitch would dance and float, looking like a big ol’ meatball…but it was a zombie ball.
Even if you got it all chances are the lifeless pill would become a can of corn. Now with their WWE-like bodies, some MLB players can muscle the knuckler into another zip code. PEDs certainly had a hand in that. But does the “cream”, “the juice” or “the needle” help you hit the ball? Can a .230 hitter take a round of PEDs and become a .300 plus hitter? Is there a wonder drug that can instantly make a person able to rake? Can I head down to my local, shady “Health Clinic” run by a certified “nutritionist” and pick up a dose of something that can allow me to hit a round ball with a round bat squarely and often…say 3 out of 10 times? On that bit of science I am a bit skeptical. Maybe it does help a great deal…maybe it doesn’t. Maybe there is a placebo type effect... Meaning you think you should be crushing the heater…so you do. I really can’t say. I believe a home run hitter can accrue more dingers with added muscle…but become a great average hitter? I just don’t know.
Baseball is a business. We all hear that. It usually is stated when a player signs elsewhere or is traded away. There is a bottom-line, winning. But it’s not the real bottom line. No. Winning is great, but money is king. From the owners to the commissioners to the beat writers to the players, Baseball’s goal is to make money. I’ve said time and again that Bud Selig was as corrupt in the PED years as Sammy, Big Mac, Raffy or Bonds. He KNEW exactly what was going on and ignored it because the sport was booming after a strike soured fans and killed attendance. Bud wanted to bring the cash flow back, and to quote Greg Maddux in that famous commercial, “Chicks dig the long ball.” It’s true.
Dingers are a fireworks show. They put butts in the seats. Selig let PEDs fuel the pyrotechnics and then pretended he had no idea when the bill came at the end of the meal.
His legacy is allowing the game to let in a destructive element the way the Black Sox and Peter Rose are accused of letting the gambling crowd use the backdoor. If only the hypocrisy stopped there. It doesn’t.
The owners also knew what was going on. But full stadiums and merch sales can cause a head to turn. And now they turn up their noses and act self-righteous. “No, we won’t play this player! He disgraced the game!” KNOCK. IT. OFF! That player lined your pockets while he was “disgracing you and the game”. Pay up.
Then there are the screenwriters. They call themselves “Baseball Writers”, but they aren’t. They are TMZ Sports scribblers. That’s it. They cover the game like the jilted high school sophomores who didn’t make the team. They still live in the “Jocks vs. Dorks” culture. They create the narrative that the fans lap up like thirsty puppies. It’s all part of the “Biz”. They are looking for fame as they build up one and tear down another. It truly is kind of sick and twisted. If a big star knows the reporter by name and even shares a joke with them it’s like the Captain of the Varsity team invited them to the big party. They’re in with the cool kids. So what does the “writer” do? He or She writes epic poems about the player’s heroics on the field and defend them from any naysayers. And what if another MLB player is short with them or seems “Too cool for school”? Well, they take cheap shots and look desperately for a loose thread to pull on and unravel that player’s reputation.
For example, let’s take two BIG names in the game. David “Big Papi” Ortiz and Alex “ARod” Rodriguez were, at one time, close friends if you believe what you read. They are both Dominican, big hitting stars that have done very well for themselves on the field. Yet one is a lovable, celebrated hero and the other is ARod. Now, don’t get me wrong. This is not a piece defending Alex. He lied, said he was “sort of sorry”, lied again, blamed everyone but himself, lied again, sued his union, lied again, howled at the moon, lied again, lied again and then took his suspension and disappeared for a year. I’ve never met Alex. I can see, without any psychological training, that the lack of a father figure in his life seriously affected his ability to be a man in many respects. I have felt sorry for him. I’ve been angry with him, and I’ve felt happy him. He seems to be a complicated person. He is a victim of his own ego and mistakes…yet, he is one of the best players ever to play the game if you ask me.
I have met David Ortiz and I really like him. And I will say that Papi is as advertised. He is funny, outgoing, friendly and larger than life. But that’s the David I saw in the spotlight. I don’t know Ortiz in his personal life or what he is like day to day. Papi certainly loves being Papi that’s for sure. David has also been implicated with PED use. He passionately denies this. But what if tomorrow we learned that not only did he use, but has continued to use? Would David not do the same thing Alex did? Would Papi let go of his legacy without a fight? Would he not lawyer up and give us the “I didn’t know what I was taking” line? This is the man that helped Boston reverse and imaginary curse. He is loved by the Red Sox Nation and respected by fans everywhere else. Selig would hug him whenever the two are near cameras. The writers love him the way Jimmy Olsen loved Superman.
What if that all changed tomorrow? What would David do? What would the beat writers, owners and MLB do? They’d do everything they could to silence the facts and change the narrative. Why? Because they’ve made David a hero…while Alex is a villain. You can disagree with me. That’s your right…but I don’t feel I’m out of line in any way.
Think about what the media would do if ARod stood on the field at The Stadium after a cowardly, terrorist attack and proclaimed, “This is our F**king city!” They call him classless. They say he handled it wrong and set a bad example for kids.
Papi was made out to be General George Patton for crying out loud. Don’t get me wrong I loved it. I am a believer in BOSTON STRONG. That isn’t about Red Sox vs. Yankees, that’s about Right and Wrong.
Alex is having a good season on and off the field. He is breaking records, helping the Yankees win and leading in the clubhouse. ARod has done and said everything right so far. He seems at peace and finally comfortable in his own skin. No more Jeter vs. Rodriguez talk. No more suspensions to deal with. He is just playing baseball…and playing well. Yet the media hasn’t said much. The Yankees have stated that they don’t plan to pay him his bonus and there will be no ARod Night any time soon…but it doesn’t seem to matter to Alex. He is a kid again, and seems to know he is lucky to get a second second chance. He’s not a hero…but he isn’t a villain anymore…and very few seem to notice…or at least they won’t say anything. Why?
There’s no money in it.
Senior "Features" Writer
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