We do not like to address the topic of steroids around here. By now, it is evident that steroids played a prevalent role in the game for a significant period of time. I am not sure why anyone acts so shocked when it comes out (illegally of course, but no outrage there) that any one individual used steroids. And yet, since Saturday, to turn on your television or open your newspaper or navigate on over to your mainstream sports website of choice was to subject yourself to an endless loop of the three S's - silliness (release A-Rod!), sanctimony (what about the kids?!?!) and schadenfreude (A-Roid, A-Fraud, etc).
Anyway, we give up. Instead of continuing on with the analysis we love - a look ahead at the 2009 season, maybe some work on prospects (did you know PECOTA has Matt Wieters as the best player in the AL in 2009?!?) or even do some prep on the college season, I decided we shouldn't completely ignore the subject of steroids. While I don't think I have any incremental insight or value to add to the discussion that is taking place, I thought I would point you to some work and commentary that caught my eye.
Writers at The Hardball Times had an interesting roundtable discussion on A-Rod and steroids more broadly:
Dave Studeman: My reaction is...meh. Why are we surprised that a slugger from the early part of the decade (or any time in the 1990's) took steroids? Can't we just say that lots of players took steroids, the time wasn't a good one for competitive and fair spirit, and move on? I don't have any negative reaction toward A-Rod as a result of this. In the grand scale of things, I think cheating on your wife is a much bigger lapse of ethics.
Dan Shaughnessy, God bless him, had a pretty good piece in this morning's Boston Globe. I particularly liked the part when he compared New Englanders' reaction to the A-Rod news with their reaction to the news that Rodney Harrison, the Patriots All-Pro safety, had cheated.
But why do they hate him so much in New York ("A-Fraud") and everywhere else across this great land?....
To his credit, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN managed to track down Marvin Miller, the former MLBPA Union Boss. Miller, 91, is still as sharp as a tack.
On the media's role in perpetuating steroid use by referring to the drugs as "performance enhancers": "A kid who would love to be a professional athlete reads the sports pages or watches ESPN and is told over and over again, 'These are performance-enhancing drugs. They will make you a Barry Bonds or an A-Rod or a Roger Clemens.' The media, without evidence, keep telling young people all over the country, 'All you have to do to be a famous athlete with lots of money is take steroids.' The media are the greatest merchants of encouraging this that I've ever seen."
And finally, here is Dan Szymborski, creator of the ZIPS projection system. He generally sticks to numbers over at Baseball Think Factory but he chimed in on this matter with an excellent article about how we are all complicit.
For fans, the belief has always been that athletic excellence is something that an athlete should risk everything for. Playing in pain, running into walls, brutal crushing tackles, are the currency of fandom's love and abiding respect.
So there you have different takes on this situation, some commentary that stood out in a sea of talking heads feigning shock and outrage over A-Rod taking steroids. Some media members like to talk of the PR nightmare A-Rod has brought on himself (wow, wonder how that happens?!) Well the pieces linked and excerpted above managed to steer away from the emotions and take a look at this incident for what it is; something (another high profile player being outed) we should have all been able to see coming by this point.
I can't wait for the games to start.