While I was reading Joe Torre’s book, “The Yankee Years,” written with Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci, a few things came into focus:
Steroid use really does make a player hit, throw and run better.
Pitchers can throw appreciably harder and hitters’ eyesight, reflexes, fast-twitch muscles and reactions are markedly improved by using the right steroid for the right athlete.
The proof is in the pudding: Take the one-time Mets catcher, Todd Hundley. In 1996 he hit 16 home runs and earned $1 million. That off-season, he asked Mets clubhouse attendant and on-the-side steroid dealer, Kurt Rodomski, for “something” to elevate his game. Rodomski complied and began shooting Hundley up; yes, Hudley worked out in conjunction with the steroids to maximize their effect. Rodomski told him, “You’re going to hit 40 homers now.” Sure enough, Hundley hit 41 homers in 1997 — the most ever by a catcher up to that point — and went on to earn another $37 million in his career!
From the Torre-Verducci book, it is clear that steroids and human growth hormone have become unbelievably widespread throughout baseball.
Just look at old ESPN Classic games from 30 years ago and see how thin-waisted and scrawny and wiry the players used to be. Now they are hulking monsters!
Yes, this was — and is — cheating. Even if the rules of Major League Baseball did not prohibit steroids before 2004, the laws of all the states prohibited possession and/or the purchase of these drugs. Yet the players — through their so-called “personal trainers” — tried to circumvent the law and get injected with these powerful drugs.
As a result of this cheating, the players made gobs and gobs of money!
And, in the process, they have cheated. Period.
You know what? In America, cheaters and liars get exposed, even if it takes a long, long time. The truth always comes out.
And from A-Rod to Barry Bonds to Roger Clemens to Mark McGwire: They all have been or are being exposed as the cheaters and liars they are.
OK. That is baseball. Our one-time national pastime. Just a sport. Not anything of any real substance.
The very same pattern has overtaken us as a nation.
Cheating and lying are all over the place in the leadership class: from politicians to lawyers to doctors to business titans to leaders in the entertainment industry.
Madoff, Enron, no-WMD-in-Iraq, soldiers ripping off our aid to Iraq, mortgage lenders “teasing” home buyers with deceptively low rates and then jacking them up, widespread Medicaid fraud, famous historians committing plagiarism and getting away with it, self-centered business leaders taking huge bonuses while laying off their lesser-paid subordinates, overpaid executives spending $1.2 million to decorate an office while the bank is going bust — we could go on and on and on.
The point is clear: Like the ballplayers who — while blessed with incredible, superior athletic talent, still wanted to cheat to do even better — these societal leaders also want to cheat and lie about it to make even more money; more money than any one person could ever reasonably spend.
This Super-Sized greed and drive is out of whack with our values of fair play, hard work, and treating all people fairly and equally.
And these privileged people, in key positions of leadership across the spectrum, are dragging down our country, making awful decisions that harm thousands of people, and helping to destroy the once-glorious image of the good old U.S.A.
The only good thing about this recession is that it will shake out the system and flush many of these greedy jerks down the tubes. Unfortunately, along with them go many, many good people.
America is a self-correcting nation. We do address our problems — sometimes a little too slowly for many of us — but we do face up to things. In this case, we need widespread condemnation of the lying and the cheating and the rip-offs.
And we need to reinstate a long-lost sentiment in our society: shame.
Until these crooks and cheats feel genuine shame for what they have done, they will continue to do it.
They need that kind of shame where you hide your face on the perp walk — not smile into the mug shot camera as if you are proud of what you have done — and can’t face your friends and family and instead you’d rather jump off a building.
Today’s frauds and crooks and cheats revel in their notoriety.
That needs to change — and fast.
Prediction: America is undergoing a whole lot of “change” right now — most of it forced by the crumbling economy. In 10 years, we will be a stronger nation and a better-behaved people than we are today.
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