Ho Hum, More Dirty Baseball Players

July 30, 2009 |

So, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz reportedly tested positive for using steroids six years ago. Is anyone shocked? Is anyone surprised? Is anyone stunned? If you are, then you just haven’t been paying attention. Anyone who is surprised by players taking performance enhancing drugs these days probably believes the professional wrestling is still real. Anyone surprised by this bit of news is probably one of the most gullible, easily manipulated people you have ever come across.

Baseball hasn’t been innocent for a very long time. The fans know it – deep in their gut they do. But yet they come out in record numbers most every year. If a player on their team is caught cheating, it’s usually forgiven because the player was trying to help that particular fan’s team. Players on opposing teams – that’s not considered that much of a big deal anymore either.

If you want to be surprised by anything, be surprised that Ortiz was naive enough to think he could get away with calling for long suspensions if a player got caught using the juice. He took that stand back in spring training, and today probably wishes he had kept his big mouth shut.

It should have been clear to Ortiz, or to anyone that thought they failed those MLB administered steroids tests six years ago, that there is someone out there who wants to destroy their lives. It’s probably some lawyer that feels slighted in some way – a lawyer who has an axe to grind with MLB.

That’s why the ‘Dirty 104’ from 2003 are being revealed. Do I have proof? No, but just call it an educated guess. I would bet my last dollar that the person that ‘outed’ Alex Rodriguez is the same one that dropped Sammy Sosa’s name. That same person is probably the one who dropped dime on Ortiz and Ramirez.

My reaction to the news that Big Papi and Man Ram are dirty is no reaction. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Guilty until proven innocent. It’s not fair, but it’s the way I feel.

I’ve also said I’m not going to take any of these steroid cheats to task. I’ve laid my reasons out before. I won’t go over them again. But I will add another to my list by asking you one simple question.

What would you have done in that situation?

It’s real easy to say you wouldn’t cheat. But, let’s take it out of baseball and put it into your real life situation. If you – in this economy – could get ahead or make sure you kept your job by cutting corners, would you? If you say no you probably don’t have a family to support. If you have a wife and two kids at home you might very well cut those corners. If you have a mortgage you’d consider it. If it threatened your family and its well being you’d think long and hard about it. Hell, I’d think long and hard about it.

Players in baseball aren’t only playing a game. It’s their job. It’s how they support their families. Don’t think for a second that it’s really any different from what you and I go through. Athletes put their pants on one leg at a time. They have real life concerns that aren’t all that different from what you and I have. Bills. Strained marriages. It happens to the players we watch on television, too. They aren’t immune from life’s problems.

So, before you tell your buddy that guys like Ortiz and Ramirez are criminals, take a second and think about what you would do in their situations. It’s very easy for us as fans to forget that because – hell – we aren’t making millions of dollars a year. It’s even easier for my colleagues in the media to forget it.

I’ll protect the name of this particular talk show host because, well – stupidity like that deserves to be swept under the rug. But, I heard a guy on the radio today just tee off on Ramirez and Ortiz. I expected that. What I didn’t expect was what followed.

Simply, it was one of the most ridiculous rants I’ve ever heard on the radio – and I’ve heard a lot of them. Hell, I might have gone on one or two of those rants myself. But, I’ve never said anything this stupid.

The host – let’s call him Carl – blamed not only the players, other MLB executives for ignoring the problem, and fans for looking the other way, but he blamed the managers. The managers, Carl said, were responsible as well because they didn’t force their guys to stop using PED’s. He then singled out Joe Torre of the Dodgers and Tony LaRussa of the Cardinals. Most people think these two managers will be in Cooperstown one day. Carl thinks they should be kept out because they allowed their players to cheat. Carl even demanded that the World Series titles won by the Yankees, Red Sox, and Cardinals over the last fifteen years be vacated.

I’ll give you all a minute to digest the utter stupidity of these statements…..

OK, time’s up.

There are so many things wrong with these statements that I don’t even know where to begin. So, I’ll try to begin at the beginning. How in the world are the managers responsible for players who injected drugs into their system? They are managers, not parents. And, these are adults, not kids. What are they supposed to do, demand their players drop their pants so they can make sure there are no needle marks on their asses? Give me a break.

Besides, let’s be totally honest here. The jobs of these managers are totally dependent on what these players do on the field. If you don’t win, you are done in pro sports as a coach or manager. So, as a manager you might suspect that one of your guys is doing something wrong. But, even if you do, do you risk your own job.

Please don’t misunderstand. I am not condoning anything that the steroid users in baseball have done. I’m not condoning the fact that MLB owners ignored the problem. I’m not condoning fans for looking the other way, and I am not condoning managers for not having more control of their players. I am just saying – as I have said before – that I will not take anyone to task over the steroid issue. And, maybe in a way, I understand why the players did what they did. And I might even understand why most in baseball ignored the problem.

Back to Radio Guy Carl and his stupid rant. Going on the record and saying that managers – specifically Torre and LaRussa – should not be allowed into the Hall of Fame – is lunacy. Look at their records, and look at the amount of World Series rings they have (that would be seven between the two). You judge their eligibility for the Hall of Fame based exclusively on how they managed. Anyone who looks at the record and rips Torre or LaRussa is just talking to hear himself talk (like Carl the Radio Guy).

And finally, the whole deal about vacating World Series Championships like the NCAA did with Final Four appearances by Michigan and UMASS. What a crock! Put an asterisk next to them in the record book. Hell, take them out of the record book if you want. But you can’t change what you saw with your own eyes. And our eyes watched those teams climb to the top of the mountain.

The sense of righteous indignation that comes to light every time a baseball player gets outed for being a steroid cheat has gotten old. The players don’t care – if they did they wouldn’t have done the stuff in the first place. The fans, baseball executives, and a lot of other people looked the other way.

I’m not saying the media should look the other way. Not at all.

The Steroid Era happened. It is probably still happening. The time for being surprised and stunned has long passed. The righteous indignation; the pounding of the chests; the stomping of the feet on the sopabox – it all has gotten old.

I’m not saying the media should give everyone a pass. I’m saying the rhetoric you hear every time a steroid story breaks has just got to stop.