Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sounding Off: Legacy and Steroids

*Sounding Off will be featured every Sunday morning as we address a hot topic from the past week. Feel free to weigh in and make your opinion heard!*

Ahhh steroids. The topic that will not go away. How many times have you heard about Alex Rodriguez and steroids this week? Probably enough to make your head explode while viciously turning the channel past ESPN so that you don't have to see re-runs of the Alex Rodriguez/Peter Gammons interview.

But something funny happened to me when I watched the A-Rod interview this week? I became really, really pissed off. Why so?

Not because A-Rod was some hero of mine who I grew up loving as a kid. I was actually a huge Mike Piazza fan growing up (Met fan...dur), and I swear, if one day it's discovered that Piazza did the juice, I will declare my childhood null and void.

Not because I was concerned about the "purity" of the game, or whatever nonsense Bud Selig wants to throw my way. The idea that every athlete in every sport has performed at their highest level without ANY kind of performance enhancers is foolish. There have been many epidemics throughout baseball history (amphetamines and cocaine come to mind), and steroids, even if is the most serious, is just another sad and scarring black eye on the game I love.

Not because A-Rod lied to the American people in 2007 about performance enhancing drugs in an interview with Katie Couric. Lying is undoubtedly a terrible act, but I understand why A-Rod did it: he had an image to protect especially after signing a $275+ million dollar contract with the Yankees. I hate what he did, but hey, the guy made a mistake that every other person in the world has made...he's human.

So what could A-Rod have done to piss me off? Legacy.

A-Rod was the best player of my generation that everyone thought was not juiced. He was a first ballot hall of famer, without question. He had a legitimate chance to go down as one of the all time greats-we're talking the DiMaggio, Mantle, Ted Williams, Ken Griffey Jr level here. That's high praise.

And now, there is no chance that A-Rod can even be mentioned in the same breath as those guys. Cheaters don't become legends, they become infamous. Cheaters don't make the hall of fame, they make the hall of shame.

And that hurts, but this is really where it gets to me.

My Father can go on and on about the greats of his generation because those guys were connected with the fans and viewed as great players and legends. He tells stories about the classic moments and great plays as well as anyone. It's like those images are engraved in his head forever and he continually passes those lasting memories down to me.

Who in my generation will be viewed as a legend? Can anyone in my generation be viewed as a legend without some dude in the back room screaming, "was he on the juice?" And my lasting image of my generation will ultimately be that some of the best players I ever saw play (Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, Rodriguez, etc.) have been linked to steroids.

My Father's generation got legends while I got cheaters, asterisks, and a whole lot of questions.

That pisses me off.

I want to be able to go on for hours to my children about the great players I grew up fawning over. I want to talk about Bonds like my Dad talks about Hank Aaron, or go on about Roger Clemens like my Dad does about Sandy Koufax because that's the way it should be. But instead, the lasting moments and images of this generation of greats will be the infamous ones, when they either admitted to using steroids or were caught using steroids.

The steroid era will ultimately go down as the generation that should not be mentioned. Now that's sad.

2 comments:

Jash said...

A-Rod for president.

Billy said...

Most ballplayers today are taking homeopathic hgh oral spray because it's safe, undetectable, and legal for over the counter sales. As time goes on it seems it might be considered as benign a performance enhancer as coffee, aspirin, red bull, chewing tobacco, and bubble gum.