August 5, 2013, - 4:36 pm
A-Rod Suspension & Why No One Cares: Americans Don’t Object to Steroids; They Object to Lying Scumbags (Like Lance Armstrong)
Despite all the press hoopla surrounding and building up to today’s announcement of suspensions for several Major League Baseball players for using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs), most Americans couldn’t care less. We aren’t outraged. Nobody cares if they “cheated.”
Most Americans find baseball boring. It’s long, slow, and has nothing exciting going for it. In fact, the PED scandal is the most exciting thing to happen to the game in a while and got the pro sports league its biggest recent buzz. But not because anyone wants to see Alex Rodriguez a/k/a “A-Rod” burnt at the stake. Americans like baseball when it has big hitters, home run contests, and excitement. And they don’t care if the players use human growth hormones, doping, steroids, or other PEDs to get there. Take Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa and their home run race in 1998. There’s been nothing like it since–and that was fifteen years ago. And everyone knew they were both on steroids. It was kinda obvious.
But Americans feel that if you want to have a shriveled up penis, bacne, and risk all kinds of cancers and other diseases later in life to entertain us in the here and now, that’s your problem. Yes, there are some who feel it’s cheating and it’s against the rules. But so is adultery in New York, to date a criminal offense there. Sadly, everyone looks the other way (Simon Cowell and Lauren Silverman aren’t about to do time, though they probably should for the dual crimes of tackiness and chutzpah). And, yes, there are some parents who say this encourages young kids to do steroids and risk their lives or at least their long-term health at an age when they are too young to make that decision.
But they are in the minority. Most Americans aren’t up in arms about this the way the jealous media is–the media that loved following A-Rod’s steady parade of girlfriends and his lavish lifestyle and now wants to equally enjoy tearing that down. I don’t endorse his lifestyle. I found it annoying being forced to watch him being fed popcorn by the even more annoying Cameron Diaz when I was trying to watch Superbowl 2011 and those two needed to get a room. But I don’t feel too upset about what he might have put in his body. It’s just not an issue for me, or for most other people. For example, Detroit Tiger Jhonny Peralta is among the 12 Biogenesis-linked players suspended today by Major League Baseball. But I’ll bet that most people are like me: more upset that he doesn’t know where to put the “h” in Johnny than that he might have injected. Spelling your name Jhonny or Dhebbie or Thiffany or Dhavid truly is a crime of epic proportions. I also note that another suspended player is surnamed Bastardo. But just ‘cuz he used steroids, doesn’t mean he is one.
“But what about Lance Armstrong?,” you say. Well, that’s a different story. Lance Armstrong was not only a big-time liar about his doping, he was an arrogant SOB about it. He went after everyone who didn’t parrot his lie with a vengeance, made their lives miserable, sued them, and still insisted he wasn’t using. He took particular relish in making life hell for his cycling teammates and their wives. He built himself up as a role model who didn’t use, while he was using. He made himself the poster boy for testicular cancer recovery and survival, when it now turns out that he may have gotten the disease because of what he did to his body to win bicycle races. Only a smug bastard–as opposed to a Bastardo–like Armstrong would have the ball to do that.
It’s the same reason why public sentiment against Ryan Braun is higher than for the others. While it’s true that there were a lot of vicious anti-Semitic attacks against Ryan Braun when it came out that he’s one of the Major League Baseball players caught up in all of this, his being Jewish is only part of the reason he’s more hated than A-Rod. A bigger reason is that when he was first accused of using, he fought it tooth and nail and assaulted the reputation of the tester, who can’t possibly be happy about his career of doing stuff like watching this guy take a piss, then having to transport the container of Braun DNA Lemonade. Braun attacked the fact that the “piss proctor” stored the urine overnight in his home before it could be FedExed out the next morning to be tested. He attacked the man’s credibility. And then it turns out he was using all along. People hate this kind of in your face lying when the perpetrator is caught.
That’s why Armstrong is hated in the court of American public opinion and Ryan Braun isn’t well liked, but A-Rod and the other baseball players officially identified today and issued suspensions (only A-Rod will appeal his) aren’t on the list of hated athletes. A year or two from now, we will act as if these suspensions never happened. They will be forgotten.
And Major League Baseball wants it that way. MLB didn’t want to go public with this black eye. But it was forced into it by the mainstream sports media. If the League were really so offended and upset and outraged (and if the public were) by PED use in baseball, most of these players would face lifetime bans and zero tolerance.
If America really hated this practice of injecting foreign substances into your body to make you bigger, faster, stronger, and able to hit farther out of the ball park more of the time, Roger Clemens would have been convicted. And Barry Bonds would have been convicted of something beyond obstructing justice. As with Lance Armstrong, his crime was lying about it and pretending otherwise, not using.
The problem–or lack of a problem–with steroid use and doping in pro sports is that there is about 80% tolerance for the use of PEDs in pro sports, despite everyone pretending (with a wink and a nod) otherwise.
And so, like I said with the much-hyped Mitchell report on steroid use in baseball several years ago, this is much ado about nothing. It’s a kabuki dance. And little more.
For more of my take on using steroids in pro sports, check out my 2004 column, “2004: Fat Chicks, Good; Big Guys, Bad.” Some things never change, because in 2013, we push plus size fat “acceptance” in America more than ever, and yet it’s about as dangerous–if not more–than steroid use (which is far less common than obesity).
Tags: A Rod, Alex Rodriguez, Antonio Bastardo, Bastardo, BioGenesis, Lance Armstrong, Major League Baseball, Major League Baseball steroids, Major League Baseball suspensions, MLB, PEDs, Performance Enhancing Drugs, Ryan Braun, steroids