Thursday, February 12, 2009

Shooting for the Stars!

“Being a Hero is about the shortest-lived profession on Earth.” Will Rogers

Yes the Worldwide Economy is in freefall and, no, I fear that we are not yet at or close to bottom and it's most definitely true that we've still got Wars raging, rogue Nations searching for their own personal Nuclear Toys and Women are currently being beaten and killed in certain places for showing their faces in Public and/or enjoying the beverage of their choice. Choice being the operative word and fanatical Religious fervor the operative weapon but for right now lets just ignore the fact that there may indeed be fundamental cultural differences between certain portions of this World we share and, instead, focus on the burning issue of today, shall we?

A-Rod and his steroid junkie Brethren.

You know the All-Star list-

Doubtless there are scores of others who I am shamefully neglecting to mention that belong in this heralded crew and whose names will likely be surfacing at the top of this slimy bucket shortly but you get the point.

Yet the Yankee 3rd Baseman deserves center stage today because he has been officially outed then subsequently (as of Tues.) performed the now mandatory televised 1st stop on what will surely be the A-Rod Apology Tour by coming clean (ahem) to Lead-Off Apologee and Sports journalist Pete Gammons from that most consistently worthless of sports rags SI.
Rodriguez was humble, polite, contrite and damn close to sincere. He was evasive, not quite persuasive and at all times thoroughly coached and properly uncomfortable as he squirmed, backpedaled, sidestepped and ducked most of Gammons' obligatory lobs while rockin' his Little Boy Blue Polo by Timberlake.

You Fans were expecting?

Because you see the unholy Trinity of SportsStar/Journalist/Fan is the center of this maelstrom of Bullshit and adds up to, and always has to me, the equivalent of Hypocrisy Bowling- Each taking a Big turn at knocking down the pins that they've all set up for each other as they feverishly keep score of their near meaningless but absolutely manic recreation whose relevance ends the moment they exit the Alley. I mean, you know.....unless of course you happen to have some decent, hard-earned, honest money bet on the outcome.

Or perhaps a more accurate analogy is a Hypocrisy CircleJerk with each feverishly yanking the others tool in the intense desire for some orgasmic ending to their endless adolescent fantasies of Championship Glory and Power.

Or maybe a Sports Strip Club- The Players being the Dancers with the Giant Counterfeit Guns (but who cares, the bigger the better, right?) and even more Counterfeit smiles, the Journalists (and I am using that term very loosely) being the sidewalk Hawkers who shill for the Club, grab the Money fast and don't ask any questions or mind any mess.
The Fans you ask?
Yea, they're the saps with fistfuls of sweaty dollar bills dreaming of any possible connection with that long since unobtainable yet tantalizingly miraculous mirage right in front of their desperately hungry eyes but worlds away from their own mundane realities, hopelessly blinded by their juvenile lust for a fantasy that will never, ever, ever come anywhere close to happening.

And I'm a Cubs Fan so trust me, I know.

Yes my opinion of most SportsFans, assembled through many years of incidental but nonetheless painfully dullheaded interaction, is not and has never been very high based solely on the collected research and my opinion of most Sports Writers/broadcasters quite a bit lower based on their almost universally sycophantic and simultaneously parasitic Starfucking output so it is with a veritable truckload of salt that I offer my take on this unfortunate and unfortunately ridiculous situation.

But A-Rod and his multi-millionaire ilk?

Call me what you will but today I got Slack to give to those fraudulent SuperStars and I ain't expecting any in return. Why?

My reasons are complex so I'll attempt to simplify.

1.I Remember Playing the Game
No, I was no Star. Indeed at the height of my athletic prowess (somewhere in my mid-twenties) I'm sure I was Oceans removed from the level of competition that is Professional Sports (well, except for Soccer...I don't think anybody's too far away from a Starter there) on every single level. Yet if you would've offered me the chance to close that gap even a little by taking any pill, powder, potion or poison available to me I guarantee you I would not have hesitated. Not even blinked.

2.There are Insane Amounts of Money Involved
The average salary of an MLB Ballplayer in 2008 was 3.1 MILLION DOLLARS!
Do you happen to be average at your job? How much you making?
If I offered you a raise of say......3 million dollars a year for taking a proven chemical supplement that just might put you over the top and place your Family on Easy Street..........
Think you'd take it?

3.Stop with The Reefer Madness Hysteria
I cannot find nor have I ever read or heard of a single thorough, definitive or even serious current Research Study of the Long Term Effects of responsible Steroid use on the Human Body. Medicinal Steroid use is widespread at every level of organized Health maintenance, a common treatment for a variety of physical ills and the beneficial effects, used responsibly, are Medical facts.
Responsible and irresponsible Steroid use and abuse has been a part of Athletics since the 70's with no clear evidence of direct fatal effects on a single subject. Not one.
Side effects? Yes. No doubt unpleasant but minor, manageable and likely less severe than you may expect from any prescription Blood Pressure medication currently flooding US markets (Vioxx, Valtrex, Effexor etc...take your pick) and being forcefed to you by a tidal wave of Primetime TV commercials.
If you want to have a rational discourse on the Dangers of Steroid use I'll join in but first put away the goofy, tail-chasing Reefer Madness argument that this practice is BAD because these athletes/role models are doing irreparable harm to themselves. It just ain't so, Joe.
Or give up your Beer, Booze, Coffee, Cigarettes and especially Junk Food before pointing fingers or expressing your faux outrage.

4.The Inmates Took Over The Asylum
The Baseball Powers-that-Be of the 80's and 90's (we're looking at you Selig) willfully, willingly and gleefully allowed the madness to take place on their watch solely because it filled the coffers of their facilities and lined the pockets of everyone at every level. The Well was poisoned and although I'm positive not every Inmate drank the water (Jeter and many others) I'm equally sure that so significant a percentage did partake as to make the entire fairness/level-playing-field issue a more or less moot point. Tough break for some? Yes. Which leads me to...

5.A Cheating River Runs Through It
Baseball has always looked the other way at their own longstanding and firmly entrenched Culture of Cheating. From Ty Cobbs sharpened spikes there is a direct line to Barry Bonds Bulbous Head. In between are a long list of corked bats, nailed bats, leaded bats, superballed bats, spitballs. scuffballs, sandpaper, thumbtacks, juiced balls, frozen balls, stolen signs, amphetamines, non-banned substances and Canseco Shakes.
All these sins are/were egregious and unforgivable (no matter how many have been forgiven) but to attempt to pin the Grand Prize on the Steroids Era is to close the Barn door a looooooooooooooong time after the horse got out.

And finally

6.The Asterisk* Is (in fact) Punishment Enough
Seen McGwire basking in any adoring applause lately?
Or Home Run King Barry Bonds picking up any paychecks?
Caught any Sosa On-Camera air kisses recently?
And you won't.
Know what else you won't be witnessing? Any of these pumped up Musclemen making their Hall of Fame acceptance speeches anytime soon or ever.
And yes, that is sufficient punishment to fit the crime as long as it accompanies a deep, indelible asterisk* next to ALL of their records...Forever.

7.The Playing Field has Only Recently Become Level
Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. I firmly believe it would be very safe to say that until that Day at least 2/3 of the very best Players were not only not given an equal chance to compete, they weren't even given a chance to play at all! It would further be safe to say that integration did not become widespread until as least a decade later and the playing field did not truly level until perhaps a decade after that. Now I'm positive that the 1946 St Louis Cards fielded an excellent Team that played at a High Level and I mean no disrespect to any of their Fine Players but that Team was all White and only White. Check the '08 Phillies and the situation may snap into a sharper focus.
So for all those out there who would wail about the sanctity of Baseball History and all its Sacred Records I bring harsh news.
Your Records ain't all that pure, Man, so unless you want to start handing out some truly righteous asterisks to every single Record on the Books before '47 (and I don't...I accept Baseball in its imperfect form pre-Robinson just as I accept my imperfect friends, Family and fellow human Beings) then that shameful blackmark next to the Steroid Era with all its very public disgrace and perennial ignominy is fitting justice for the generation of egotistical cheaters of this very recent past and a sufficient warning to those Generations who may be considering shortcuts in the future.

Case Closed.

Stamp down the Asterisks and move on.

So where does this all leave us?

Same place as always. The Boys of Summer are revving up in spring Training and soon the Sun will be shining, the Flags waving in the warm wind, the grass will be lush and green as peanuts, popcorn, hot dogs and ice cold Beer is passed along to the friends sitting next to you in the stands as we all listen for those most magic of words-


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