Yup, that’s me I’m referring to in the post headline. I’m 42, male, hetro and have a pathological hatred for all things Yankee. Yet, today A-Rod crushed my innocence.
How was this possible you ask? Well, let’s start with Barry Bonds. For some crazy reason, I bought that Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa smashed Roger Maris’ season home run legitimately. Looking at both of them, I thought they were freaks of nature who benefited from the advanced training methods available to today’s multi-millionaire athletes as well as from the decline of quality pitching. McGwire and Sosa had always hit bunches of home runs so it didn’t seem so strange they not only passed but obliterated the mark that had taken so much out of Maris. Plus, for whatever I think of McGwire and Sosa now, it must be said that they both handled the chase for Roger’s record with a great deal of charm and class. I bought it all.
Barry Bonds is a different story. Bonds was, of course, more talented than either Sosa or McGwire. He just didn’t hit as many home runs as they did. Until, that is, he began to in his mid thirties. Suddenly, Bonds’ totals were skyrocketing. No one in the whole history of the game had gone from really great to all time freaking amazing great in his mid thirties. Usually, players slow down as they age. Not Bonds. Bonds was busy breaking McGwire’s home run record. Something wasn’t right. Players don’t do what Bonds did at his age without help. They cheat. It’s more than obvious that Bonds juiced. The Feds may never nail him, but most of America could sleep at night if they were on a jury that convicted him of steroid abuse. I hate statements like this upcoming one, but we all know he did it.
Bonds cheating to pass Hank Aaron on the all time home run list personally offended me. Hank Aaron is a gracious man. Bonds, despite his legion of apologists, is a sour personality who really doesn’t seem to appreciate what the game has given him. Hank Aaron endured death threats and all kinds of racism during the quest to pass Babe Ruth. Hank Aaron did it the right way. He didn’t cheat and he overtook the Babe with dignity.
On the other hand, Bonds would let nothing slow him down on the way past Aaron. He added steroids to his training regime to keep up with McGwire and Sosa. Then, as he was closing in on Hammering Hank, it all started to fall apart. We started to hear about how Barry Bonds had been cheating. His home runs were artificial. They were fueled by steroids. Bonds, wouldn’t let the controversy get in his way. He just kept knocking them out of the park. MLB was weak and did nothing. Bud Selig held his nose and attended the game in which Barry cheated his way past Hank.
You have to give it to Barry. Nowhere along the way did he crack. Never did he express regret. He somehow held it all together and just kept stepping on home plate. Too bad such determination couldn’t have been applied to a better cause.
If Barry Bonds had any conscience or class at all, he could have made the ultimate gesture. He could have stopped. He could have given up the chase, admitted he’d cheated and realized he didn’t want to pass a quality human being like Hank Aaron in such a tawdry way. Barry Bonds could have turned it all around. I would have been writing about how Bonds had made a mistake, come clean, and punished himself by giving up the chase. For me, that would have been enough to say let’s forgive and forget. For me, that would have been enough to say he belongs in Cooperstown, since after all he was a Hall of Fame caliber player way before the ‘roids.
Of course, all of that is a dream, a fantasy. The world doesn’t work that way. Today, Alex Rodriguez taught me that. You see, despite my 42 years on this planet, I still like to believe in things. I believed in Alex Rodriguez.
Sure, I hated seeing him go to the Yankees. And certainly seeing him up close now that he plays in my home market, I’ve come to see that he has some personality issues too. Yet, I never doubted that Alex was clean.
The guy started in the game so young and never seemed very big, yet the homers were always there. I believed he was something special. I believed he was the best hitter of his generation. I even heard sports talk hosts and journalists stating that he was obviously not a steroid guy. Like Bonds, he had us all fooled.
I believed. As much as Bonds sitting atop the all time homer list gnaws at me, I was content in my anticipation of the clean living A-Rod passing Bonds’ cheating ass in the next few years barring injury or unexpected decline. It was poetic justice. I’ve taught my kids that the real home run champ is Hank Aaron. I was looking forward to teaching them about how A-Rod took back the crown that Bonds had stolen and restored baseball’s reputation in the process. It was going to be a great lesson about how you can achieve things the right way.
So, today we find out that A-Rod flunked a test in 2003 and was on at least two steroids while he played for the Texas Rangers. I feel like a fool. I feel let down.
What do I teach my children now?
Thanks, A-Fraud. Now we know Joe Torre was right the whole time. And my kids will learn a whole new lesson from you.