The most absorbing story in New York City right now is the fate of Alex Rodriguez, the controversial New York Yankees third baseman who has enjoyed a remarkable baseball career but is now in his twilight. Rodriguez has done the near-impossible — by bumping Anthony Weiner off the front pages of the city's tabloid newspapers.
Rodriguez has been widely accused of using performance-enhancing drugs designed to make him bigger, stronger, and more capable of bouncing back from nagging sports-related injuries as he gets older (he is 38 years old, elderly for a baseball player who has to play 162 games a season). Major League Baseball reportedly has a treasure trove of evidence against him.
Rodriguez has been one of the most acclaimed players of his generation — and easily the best paid, boasting a 10-year, $275 million contract with the Yankees. He is the youngest player ever to swat 500 home runs, breaking the record Jimmie Foxx set in 1939, and the youngest to reach 600, surpassing Babe Ruth's record by more than a year.
Rodriguez has amassed 14 100-RBI seasons in his career, more than any other baseball player in history. The baseball powers want to punish him for his PED use and intend to bar him from playing through next year, if not forever. He will appeal the sanctions and may play ball for the Yankees. Confused? So am I.
This is a serious matter. It's likely that A-Rod, as he is known by fans and fellow players, and the others accused of using the drugs don't quite grasp what they have done wrong.
Their biggest crime is not even against the game that has been so good to them. It is instead the way they have misled the people who idolize them, particularly the kids. Maybe, as Charles Barkley has said, athletes shouldn't be held up as role models — but they should know darned well that this is one reason why they get paid these enormous amounts of money — to be good citizens and keep the fans coming to the ballpark and watching the games on TV.
By using these wretched PEDS, Rodriguez is perverting the traditions of baseball. Instead of rewarding players for hitting, pitching, and fielding, the PED Generation gives them credit for having the best chemists and drug dealers on your side.
Hopefully, someday, the baseball cheaters will grasp this lesson.
Jon Friedman writes the Media Matrix blog for Indiewire.com. He is also the author of "Forget About Today: Bob Dylan's Genius for (Re)Invention, Shunning the Naysayers, and Creating a Personal Revolution." Read more reports from Jon Friedman — Click Here Now.
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