- “ARod’s a cheater; this means nothing”
- “The Steroid Era lives”
- “600 means nothing anymore”
And I really can’t blame them. We’re not completely out of The Steroid Era. And because there’s always something new out there that people will take to gain an advantage, who’s to say it will ever go away. The names might change but athletes will always be looking for something to give them an edge. There’s too much money at stake. I like to ask this question to friends, so let’s ask it here since we’re asking lotsa questions today: If you had to face a lifetime of personal embarrassment/shame but were able to set your family up financially for their lifetimes and the lifetimes of your grandkids, would you do it?
Alex Rodriguez follows Sammy Sosa and the King, Barry Bonds into the 600 HR Club, complete with the Scarlet Asterisk. Junior Griffey is in the 600 Club without the nasty implications and we have to simply hope that he’s as clean as we all want him to be. But ARod is not. He’s got a stain that will never, ever be washed away. He’s admitted to PED usage and that’s tantamount, as of this day and time, to locking yourself out of the Hall of Fame and ensuring that your numbers will always be viewed through a different prism than others. Perhaps time will change our perspectives and the perspectives of the BBWAA, the organization who votes on the HOF. Perhaps not.
When Bonds was busy eclipsing McGwire and eventually Hank Aaron, the moment was muted. The controversies, hints and allegations were hanging over the events like a dark cloud. Bonds was hated, reviled. Right or wrong, the fans had voted and were not supportive of Bonds’ achievements.
So now ARod is on the cusp of history, joining a VERY elite group of ballplayers. Legends, icons, heros. And villians. Just peek at the names and you can easily sort them out: Bonds, Aaron, Ruth, Mays, Griffey, Sosa. That’s it. ARod will be the 7th in that club. Then there will be three villains and four heroes. Four beats three in my book.
Do you care about #600? Is it a big deal to you or is it simply yet another reminder of where the game has been the last two decades and these are the results of those actions and lack of reaction*. Does it make a difference that it’s ARod? What if this was Jim Thome, who’s next closest on the list with 575 home runs? Would you think about #600 any differently? Would MLB? After Thome, fertility drug guru Manny Ramirez is next with 554 home runs. Surely Manny’s ascent will be even more muted than ARod’s since he’s tested positive.
* I won’t get into assigning blame because everyone in MLB, from the players to front offices to agents to the reporters to ownership to the league office all the way up to the Commish owns a piece of the blame. Who gets the biggest slice of the PED Blame Pie? Good question. Lots of questions today.
Personally, I’m sadly unemotional about ARod’s 600th. I’ll cheer it and I hope I see it when it happens, but there’s too much history that I just can’t simply whitewash in order to get very excited. I’ll cheer because he’s at least showing that he’s matured and has gained a measure of perspective (I readily admit that I am buying what ARod is now selling, knowing I could be made to look the fool anytime). I’ll cheer because he’s wearing the uniform of my childhood favorite team. I’ll cheer because hopefully it helps that team win another game. I’ll cheer because I always root for the laundry. But because it’s ARod and his history, my excitement will indeed be muted.
So where do you stand? Do you care about his PED admissions? Do you simply love watching the ascent on historical numbers? Does the inclusions of the “villians” diminish the value of #600 too much for you? If this was Thome or guys like Chipper Jones or Vlad Guerrero (the next two highest active HR leaders after Manny), would you be more excited?
There are layers here. Is it only because it’s ARod? Is it because it’s any player who’s admitted to PED usage? Is it because it’s ARod and his PED admissions? Is it because we’ve seen other PED users break through and forever change our perspective on the hallowed home run totals? All of the above?
Have at it, the comments await.
Follow us on Twitter, too!