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A-Rod, steroids and moral outrage

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To The Editor:

If you are an old-school sportswriter, a member of that tribe of grumpy men who compensate for their youthful athletic inadequacies by penning diatribes against so-called entitled, lazy and greedy pro athletes — all from the confines of the press box and its free buffet spread — because, “Dagnammit, if I had his ability, I’d get my jersey dirty and run out every ground ball, all for the love of the game and a pack of Cracker Jacks,” then it’s your lucky day. Grab all the moral outrage that actual talented writers like Charles Pierce use to condemn corporate America’s abuse of the poor and the financial sector’s fleecing of, well, everyone, apply it to the latest steroids-in-baseball story of the moment: Biogenesis edition, sprinkle in A-Rod, everyone’s favorite hateable athlete, and you have an easy steroids-in-baseball column that pretty much writes itself. I’ll help you write it anyway.

Remember, baseball is not just a game. It’s a metaphor for everything that used to be great about America. Mention how you and your dad used to play catch in the yard, that Mickey Mantle was your idol, and it’s so sad that steroids have ruined the purity of a once-great game. Totally play up the “think-about-the-kids” card and tell how, thanks to the steroids scandal, your own son won’t play catch with you because he’s too busy kicking around the soccer ball and swinging the lacrosse stick.

Don’t mention how Mickey Mantle used to show up to games hung over and only paled as a womanizer in comparison to his athletic contemporary Wilt Chamberlain. Don’t mention that Willie Mays, like so many more 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s stars, was souped up on enough performance-enhancing amphetamines to kill a horse. And it’s best not to question how a sport that banned black people until 1947 and treated its players like chattel until free agency hit in the 1970s could ever have had any purity to begin with.

It’s also smart not to compare and contrast baseball’s PED stance to football. In football, a failed drug test is just a four-game suspension without the moral outrage. Probably because the actual physical contact in football is more dangerous than any side effects of HGH and other PEDs (and football has no precious home run records). The NFL cares so little about PEDs it suspends players the same four-game total for failed marijuana tests. Quick aside: Hey kids, ya know what’s more dangerous for a football player’s long-term health than smoking pot? Actually playing football.

Do, however, mention A-Rod. He’s perfect! He kisses himself in the mirror. He swats at opponent gloves like he’s carrying a purse. He strikes out in the playoffs. Best of all, he’s not Derek Jeter, an inferior player that refused to cede shortstop when A-Rod joined the Yankees but makes up for it in social graces and fawning media coverage that A-Rod lacks. And, while it’s smart to mention the joint drug testing agreement between MLB ownership and the players union, no need to repeat that baseball is suspending A-Rod and other players who never failed a drug test simply on the testimony of two men MLB literally tried to bribe: one, Biogenesis clinic head Tony Bosch, a steroid peddler who lied about his non-existent medical credentials, and the other, Porter Fischer, a fired Biogenesis employee who initially leaked the whole story to spite Bosch because Fischer invested in Biogenesis and never got his money back.

Surprisingly, yes, you do want to play up the collusion between MLB and the Yankees in trying to suspend A-Rod to get the Yankees off the hook for the $100-plus million they still owe A-Rod. Because for some reason, idiot sports fans that claim to love capitalism and detest “freeloading” poor people also love to complain about overpaid athletes; because rather than have the revenue go to the workers that generate it, apparently they would prefer that money stay in the pockets of the billionaire owners who regularly fleece taxpayers into funding sports stadiums. Those owners happen to come from the same corporate and financial classes responsible for the recession, but that’s a different story.

Finally, you don’t need to mention, as Lawyers, Guns & Money blog contributor Scott Lemieux says, that the real reason for the collective steroid hissy fit is stars of he ‘90s and 2000s broke home run records that properly belong to baby boomers. It’s implied.

Sean Pidgeon

Morristown

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