SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Tuesday, August 09, 2016

A-Rod's Retirement Has Gotten Me Thinking

Alex Rodriguez retired with a yawn last week.  Sure, some Yankees' fans will pay way too much to say that they saw the great A-Rod in his very last game.  Somehow, those fans' contentions will pale in comparison to the fans who say they paid a lot to say farewell to a true Yankee all-time great, Derek Jeter.

A-Rod's problems are well-chronicled, as are those of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro, none of whom are getting into the Hall of Fame any time soon.  A-Rod surely will join them on the bench, forever perhaps awaiting his turn for induction.  And the conventional wisdom is that these fellows cheated, that they don't deserve to be in the Hall.

I get all that and have written about the same.  Their shortcomings, no, transgressions, helped give me excitement that I didn't deserve.  Was my life so out of whack that I needed to see steroid-pumped up men whack the ball more often and farther than at any time in Major League history save a live-ball era in the 1920's?  No, not really, because I do recall having a conversation with my late father-in-law about McGwire's and Sosa's chase of Roger Maris's record and offering that when all was said and done, it would come out that they were using steroids and there would be a scandal.  He somewhat scolded me for being cynical, but later did admit that I was right.

And that's part of the problem.  I didn't want to be right.  But what's worse than that is that if I saw it and spoke about it, others who were closer to the scene should have too.  But they didn't, and they didn't apologize for their transgressions, either.  They defend themselves by saying that they didn't have any proof, that they heard things, but that they didn't have enough to go on to write the story because people's reputations were at stake, or something to that effect.  Perhaps, but they also fail to admit that they could have gotten their paper's investigative reporters on the trail in real time or that they feared becoming pariahs within their own profession and losing access to some great theater had they protested at all.  What's even worse is that many of these same people cast votes for the Hall of Fame.

That's right, we're talking about the sportswriters.  None of them lost their jobs over the steroids era or had their credibility and reputation publicly ridiculed.  In fact, some of them are more prominent now than ever before, and all vote for the Hall of Fame.  So it stands to reason, by my logic, that if those guys fanned on reporting the scandal and didn't suffer any consequences on the job and somehow still can vote for the Hall of Fame, that it's a bit self-righteous for them to shun the people who helped them earn their (somewhat undeserved) reputations and gave them a lot of exciting things to cover.  So, how can they in good conscious pass judgment on the steroids users when they themselves benefited from it.  Put differently, how hypocritical can they be?

On the one hand, if they deny access to the steroids users, then shouldn't they simply resign from their positions as Hall of Fame voters because they whiffed too?  On the other hand, if they vote for the steroids users, while they might be condoning steroids use, aren't they basically putting a blanket and punctuation mark on an era where everyone failed the game -- owners (who loved the money rolling in), players, writers -- all of whom had one of their worst eras in the history of the sport?

It's an awful situation, for sure, a low moment for baseball.  The writers let the game down too.  That's not nearly as bad as what the players did, but a blind man could have seen that baseball players were a lot larger then and that the numbers some people were putting up were statistically significantly above and beyond what others in prior eras had put up. 

I don't know if this new revelation warrants a "yes" vote for the steroids users.  I just would feel much more comfortable about the whole situation if those who blew the coverage still didn't figure so prominently into who gets into the Hall of Fame. 

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