Wednesday, February 18, 2009


For Alex Rodriguez-A Long Way Down

Once the lid was lifted off the cookie jar, Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees had a problem.

He had to figure out a way to inform the public that he had been a bad boy. He had been caught cheating by taking some sort of an enhancement substance so that he could be a better baseball player than he would have been naturally. He could hear the voices calling: “A Roid!!” and “A Fraud!!”

At this time, we really do not know what he was ingesting, or injecting into his body. What we do know is that he had been caught.

One point worth discussion is that he was the best player in the game at that time. It has also been proven that several of the worst players in baseball have also admitted that they had taken stuff to make them better players. So that leaves a whole mess of players in between. The former General Manager of the New York Mets, Steve Phillips, has estimated that at least 75% of major league baseball players were cheating.

When did all of this begin?

When will it end?

Most of the players realized then, and still realize, that steroids, taken in large doses, are not exactly health food. There are correlations with cancer. More than a few very large football players and professional wrestlers have died rather mysteriously in the past few years, well before their time. But they continued to do the drugs.

For the most part, my guess is that a player would rather hit a home run over the fence than hit a long and very loud out. There is big money in the long ball, but only the ones that clear the fences.

In 1988, Ben Johnson got caught. So we must assume that athletes knew about the drugs, and were taking the drugs before that time. Many Olympic weightlifters had been suspended and even disqualified even before Johnson got caught in Seoul.

Major League Baseball still has not come to grips with “HGH”, human growth hormone. Apparently, it also can enhance performance, and is used by athletes. It will be banned by baseball, but only when the union and the owners realize it is not all that good for the game.

Who knew that so many of the players were doing these drugs? Just about everybody in the game-owners, players, trainers, therapists.

The secret was, and still is that if you don’t get caught, it does not matter. Well now the genie is out of the bottle, and the tongues are wagging again.

Miguel Tejada, a former MVP, has now been charged with lying to a senate committee. How awful! What do you expect him to say? He was just following the three rules of advice from his lawyers: Deny, deny deny.

It gives Jose Canseco more opportunities to sell books. Certainly, he will make some noise. It is unfortunate that he was not able to expose the sport in a more sensible manner. Just another loud mouth.

How will baseball deal with this latest crisis?

They will begin by bowing their collective heads, weeping, and saying: “We’re sorry. We’re sorry. It will never happen again.”

For some baseball fans, the cows may have gotten out of the barn for the last time. They may not return to the parks; however, it is “America’s Pastime”, and it will survive.

Not all of the players were in the game when Alex Rodriguez started and ended his drug days. Perhaps some of the new players are clean. Certainly not all, as there are always players who are in the minor leagues drawing suspensions throughout the year. Players who have never seen a big league baseball park, but are willing to cheat in order to get there.

The league has made it more difficult to cheat, but there are still cracks in the door. Athletes from all walks of life will do what they can to get the edge, to be a little bit better than the other guy or girl. Do not be too shocked if a few Olympians get knocked off the podium in Vancouver.

And then there’s Michael Phelps! He says he didn’t mean to get caught with his nose in a bong. Of course he’s sorry! He likely has several million reasons for saying he’s sorry---all of them American Greenbacks. By the way, if you happen to be sharing that bong with Michael, good luck. He can breathe under water for several minutes, and has lungs like a horse. You’ll get the definite short end of the stick on that one!

Baseball is still a great game, and the games at the Rogers Centre feature the best players in the world. So, what the hell. I’ll see you at the park. Perhaps with a slightly more jaundiced eye. Sorry.

It’s really easy to say sorry! Over and over again!

James Hurst

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