Saturday, February 7, 2009

Nothing Against A-Roid

Well, it looks like A-Rod’s hair isn’t the only thing he’s been chemically enhancing.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve probably heard by now that Sports Illustrated printed a story revealing that Frost-Tip tested positive for steroids in 2003.

Wait a second. That’s funny. I feel like A-Rod did something else of note that year. But what the hell was it? Oh, right. Win AL MVP and the league home run championship.

What a coincidence.

But believe it or not, I’m not going to take this opportunity to rag on A-Roid. (Though obviously he has a new nickname for life.) I mean, you all know how I feel about the guy. This doesn’t really change that. And whatever. If someone somewhere is doing something morally compromising, I just assume that Frost-Tip is involved. So it’s not a surprise or a disappointment. Tell me Bernie Williams tested positive, that’s a different discussion.

My issue right now is actually with the MLB Player’s Association.

Yeah, I said it.

I believe in unions. Screw the man and all that. But Adam the Bull made an interesting point today on WFAN. (Not interesting enough to forgive the name, but I’ll address that another time.) He said that, while, on the one hand, it’s the MLBPA’s responsibility to protect the players who have been busted for violating the steroid rules, it should also be its obligation to protect those players who haven’t. The ones who are struggling to compete in an industry in which people have gone outside the system to give themselves an unfair advantage. So, when Gene Orza, the COO of the player’s union, warns players about upcoming drug tests, he may think that he’s only sticking it to the people at MLB. But not so.

By enabling the guys who are juicing to keep on juicing, he’s kind of sticking it to all the players who aren’t. And by keeping all of this under such a veil of secrecy, the people at the MLBPA end up tarnishing the names of everyone in the sport. Until someone decides to just bust this thing wide open, every player is a suspect. And that hardly seems like a way to protect whatever members of the union are within regulations. And those would seem, to me, to be the members most deserving of the union’s protection.

But not so fast, MLB. You’re not exactly exempt either. This whole thing only got so out of control in the first place because you let it. By treating our bitterness over a strike with a steroids-fueled home run frenzy. Patently imbecilic.

Basically, it would be as though your kid had a weight problem, and you were worried because all the other kids were teasing him. So when he started smoking crack and got thin and made friends, you decided not to say anything. Obviously he was going to eventually start robbing gas stations and having paranoid delusions, but for the moment, the problem was addressed.

Well, guess what? That’s obviously the dumbest way to deal with a problem ever. My analogy may be a little far-fetched, but seriously. Your kid is fat, you put him on a diet. You don’t let him smoke crack. People don’t like baseball? You do more promotions, have players do more community outreach, do more personal interest stories. I don’t know. Ever heard of marketing? I thought the whole reason advertising was everywhere was that we were all stupid enough to buy into it. But whatever you do, you don’t turn a blind eye as a steroid epidemic of unbelievable proportions takes over your sport because the effect that it’s having is working to your advantage. That’s lazy, and it’s immoral, and for salaries of up to $18 million a year, I would expect the guys over at baseball to be doing more than just calling it in.

So, here’s a revolutionary idea. Maybe the people at MLB and the MLBPA can see this as possibly the one opportunity they’re ever going to have to share a common goal—the total elimination of steroids from the sport.

It could happen.

And Coco Crisp could just wake up one morning and realize that, somehow, miraculously, he doesn’t suck anymore.

(Don’t worry; I haven’t forgotten.)

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