For the past few days I’ve been mulling over this whole Alex Rodriguez steroids story, and the more I think about it the more I just can’t bring myself to care all that much. It’s not that I don’t think he’s a cheating scumbag and I’m certainly not impressed by his weak defense, which basically relies on the fact that the substances he took weren’t banned by Major League Baseball at the time. So what? Then why lie about it to Katie Couric?
Nor am I bowled over by A-Rod’s claim that he doesn’t know what substances he took that caused him to flunk. Barry Bonds used a similar defense, and it doesn’t pass the smell test. Am I seriously supposed to believe that a person whose career depends on their body being in peak physical condition would just blindly take substances without knowing what they are or what they do? I guess in Rodriguez’s mind it’s better to be seen as a total moron than a cheater. Now he can be both.
Anyway, there is much gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands over A-Rod, a player to whom many baseball fans looked at as the “clean” savior that would break Bonds’s tainted home run record and restore some credibility to the game. D’oh!
So I think that how you feel about A-Rod now has a lot to do with how you feel about baseball in general. For those who still think of it as some sacred American institution (and that includes all those venerated individual records), Rodriguez’s transgression is yet another gut punch and unforgivable betrayal.
But for those who, like me, view the game mainly as a pleasant enough distraction and good way to kill a few hours on a summer afternoon, the news is met with a collective “meh”. It’s hard for me to get too worked up over just another miscreant on what is a fast-growing list for sports in general. Sure, he’ll have to endure endless “A-Roid” taunts this season (from Yankees fans as well as opposing teams’ fans), and the highlight shows will suffer no shortage of fans bringing giant novelty syringes to the ballpark. But they’ll still pay to see him play and at the end of the day, as long as he’s out there hitting home runs he’ll be forgiven.
It seems the question posed in Gladiator still applies today – Are you not entertained?