Monday, February 9, 2009

A Revelation Inside A Revelation

As I'm sure everyone under the sun has heard by now, Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroid usage back in 2003, under the anonymous testing procedures Major League Baseball put in place to decide whether or not steroid usage was widespread enough to merit a large scale testing process (more on this later). Today, he gave an interview with Peter Gammons, explaining the extent of his use and offering the standard baloney about being young and naive, needing to be more conscious of what he was putting in his body, talking to kids about his mistakes, etc etc. He doesn't go into the details of how much he used of any particular drug, nor does he specifically name anything he used. It's fairly similar to the apology issued by Jason Giambi in 2005, where he apologized, but didn't say what he was apologizing for.

What's the relevance of this? Well, I've read through some commentaries on assorted blogs and websites, and I've got two things I want to discuss (and would like to hear other people discuss):
  1. How does this revelation affect the steroid era players who've been tagged as steroid users and their fate with regards to the Hall of Fame? I've never been all that concerned with the "purity of the game" that so many commentators cite as their reasons for not casting a vote for Mark McGwire, which will presumably be similar to the votes they'll cast (or not cast) for Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, and other suspected or proven steroid users. But that's the argument that many BBWAA voters provide when asked why they wouldn't vote for McGwire. Does Rodriguez's admission mean that McGwire might be looked upon in a more favorable light? And, even if not...
  2. ...why isn't the bigger part of this story the fact that 104 baseball players tested positive in 2003? I don't think all major leaguers were tested, but even if they were, 104 players constitutes 13.8% of active players (30 teams, 25 active players per team). And that's only the players who were too stupid to stop using steroids when baseball announced they'd be testing that year. People say that A-Rod, and any other steroids users, got an unfair advantage over their opponents through it, but when 14% of your opponents (and probably a lot more) are also using steroids, any arguments about fairness go out the goddamn window.
I'm not going to come down on A-Rod, because I've never come down on anyone for using steroids in the pre-suspension era in baseball. You can't get mad at someone in a system for acting within the constraints of the system without looking foolish, and A-Rod, McGwire, Bonds, and everyone else worked within the system. The system had no penalty for using steroids, so why should we suddenly hold the players accountable?

My cousin Nick made the analogy for A-Rod that any punishment from baseball, current or future, is like getting pulled over and given a warning, then five years later getting issued a speeding ticket. To me, both situations sound equally ridiculous, and I'll vehemently argue any opposition to Rodriguez's eventual Hall of Fame candidacy.

1 comment:

GoodPointJoe said...

I heard on Mike & Mike this morning that there were 525 negative tests to go along with the 104 positives. That's nearly 1/6 players who tested positive that season. Astonishing.

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