You might have heard that Alex Rodriguez hit his 660th home run on Friday night. That ties him with Willie Mays for the fourth most home runs ever. By the consternation caused by the laser he hit off Junichi Tazawa, you’d think he’d have passed the all-time leader, Barry Bonds, not the guy who’s in fourth place. Fourth place all-time is Randy Moss. It’s Marcel Dionne. It’s Michael Jordan. Oh, the exception that proves the rule, you say? Very well.
I’m being a pest, I know. But the truth is, I hold Willie Mays in just as high esteem as you do. As much of a steroid apologist as I am, I think Mays was actually a tiny shade better than Barry. But this post isn’t about Barry. Or Willie. It’s about A-Rod. Maybe it’s about people. I don’t know.
Alex Rodriguez Cheated
Yep, he did. So did Jorge Piedra and Rafael Palmeiro. Jason Grimsley did too. And Ryan Braun. And Andy Pettitte. And Bartolo Colon. And Mike Morse. And Nelson Cruz. And Troy Patton. Jose Canseco told us that a lot of guys cheated. Has he been proven wrong yet? Not that I know of.
My point isn’t that A-Rod didn’t cheat. My point is that A-Rod wasn’t outside the mainstream.
As much as I love Pud Galvin, there’s that Brown-Sequard elixir. Is his cheating somehow cute because it happened so long ago? It’s fairly well established that Babe Ruth fell ill when he injected himself with the extract from a sheep’s testes. Does that cheating not count because he got sick and derived no advantage from it? Mike Schmidt may have used amphetamines. Willie Stargell almost certainly did. And it would seem that Willie Mays did. Maybe he didn’t. I don’t know. This isn’t a witch hunt. It’s only to say that players have been working to enhance their performance as long as the game’s been played.
Cheating is Really Bad
Albert Belle corked a bat, right? Sammy Sosa too. And Graig Nettles did too, right? Those are just a few guys who got caught, not an exhaustive list of guys who have doctored bats. You’d agree that many more have cheated than have gotten caught, right?
Amos Otis once said, “I had enough cork and superballs in there to blow away anything.” Preacher Roe wrote an article for Sports Illustrated entitled, “The Outlawed Spitball Was My Money Pitch.” Whitey Ford said about his mudball, “I used enough mud to build a dam.” Let’s not forget Gaylord Perry, Don Sutton, Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, and Ted Williams.
Baseball players cheat. We all cheat. We cheat on our taxes, on our spouses, on our tests. We cheat our employers. We cheat the system. Pretty much any system there is. We cheat because we can. We cheat because there’s incentive to do so. We cheat because we don’t think we’ll get caught. Or the risk of getting caught is worth the reward if we don’t.
There’s a Lot Worse Than Cheating
At his very worst, Alex Rodriguez put substances in his body that helped to entertain millions, shorten his life, make him tons of money, and/or destroy the baseball record books. Yeah, that stuff isn’t good. We shouldn’t teach out kids to do it.
Ty Cobb was charged with attempted murder. He avoided arrest by leaving town. It seems Tris Speaker was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. John Thorn said that, “Cap Anson helped make sure baseball’s color line was established in the 1880s.” Orlando Cepeda was convicted of drug smuggling.
I’m no sort of judge. And I’m no sort of saint. But that stuff is all worse than anything A-Rod has done. Right? It’s not just a little worse. It’s a lot worse.
What I Did on Saturday Night
I’m not a fan of boxing. Seems cruel. But I support its existence because I truly do believe it’s okay to do anything to or with another person if that person has the faculties to agree to it and does agree to it. Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather agreed to beat the hell out of each other. And they got a lot of money for it. Good for them, I say.
I went to a friend’s house on Saturday. There were women there. And some of the women watched the fight. And some of those women rooted for Floyd Mayweather. After all, he’s a more colorful character, right?
By the way, there were also men there too. And some of the men watched the fight. And some of those men to rooted for Floyd Mayweather. He’s a colorful character, after all.
But Mayweather isn’t a character. He’s an abuser. He’s a person who beats people up both in the ring when they agree to the competition and outside of it when they’re simply his victims. Is it seven assaults against five people now?
I’m just a guy with a blog, a college professor, a husband. And I know I shouldn’t judge others. I really do. But Alex Rodriguez at his very worst isn’t any worse than hundreds and hundreds of other baseball players. And I have the audacity to say he’s less bad than Cap Anson and Floyd Mayweather.
Let’s lay off Alex Rodriguez. He’s a baseball player. He’s not up for a Nobel Peace Prize. Nobody is suggesting sainthood for him. He hits baseballs for a living. And he’s hit lots of them very far. Whether he did so with steroids, HGH, greenies, or whatever is a lot less awful than what’s gone on recently in Baltimore or Afghanistan or Syria or Yemen or South Sudan, or in the life of at least one of the men in a Las Vegas ring.
He’s no saint. But as I write this, Alex Rodriguez has helped to give me some perspective. Maybe you too?