|Alex Rodriguez signs autographs for fans at the New York Yankees' spring training facility in Tampa, Fla.|
I was scrambling around Tuesday looking for something to write about, and I came across a piece titled 'Avoiding the Death of Baseball' over at FullCountPitch.com. Basically, the writer's contention is that baseball is dying, and that Alex Rodriguez is wielding the murder weapon.
Let me sum up my reaction to the post this way. What on earth is this guy talking about?
Let's examine his argument, piece by piece.
Baseball is in trouble. Alex Rodriguez didn’t start the trouble, but he may be the one who makes the damage permanent. ... Because Rodriguez has lied, cheated, and has seemingly cheated for a significant period of time beyond his admission, he leaves Commissioner Bud Selig with few options. More significantly is the fact that Baseball is in deep trouble. Sure, it has survived many scandals in the past from the Black Sox to Pete Rose, but this one may permanently damage the great game. This is not hyperbole; it is a fact. All parties, the Commissioner, the owners, the players, and the media need to act quickly. Unlike the scandals of the past, the Steroids era has lingered far too long and is threatening to take down the sport.
There is soooo much wrong here that I barely know where to begin.
- Baseball is in trouble? Oh, really? You couldn't tell that from the number of people filing into ballparks around the country. In 2001, eight teams drew more than 3 million fans and nine teams averaged less than 50% attendance for their home games, including the Montreal Expos (16.4%). In 2008, two teams drew more than 4 million fans, 8 drew more than 3 million and only four teams averaged less than 50% attendance at home games, with Florida being league-worst at 45.9%. Yep, big trouble.
- Rodriguez cheated "for a significant period of time beyond his admission." We know this how? There might be some truth in this, but get the facts before asserting something as a given. Nothing beyond what A-Rod admitted has been proven.
- The steroid scandal is "threatening to take down the sport." Hardly. See the attendance figures above. And the massive television contract. And the launch of the MLB Network. The money is pouring in, and will continue to do so. Yes, the steroid scandal has shamed the sport. Yes, it has taken away the innocence and purity. But, people still love the game. And they love a villain. Yankee road games will be sold out all season just because fans will want to go to the ballpark to boo and heckle Rodriguez even more than they used to.
The author of this post, Gary Armida, tries to make several more points. Let's continue with what is turning into a lengthy rebuttal.
Baseball, for the first time during this era, is in danger of losing all credibility with the public. It runs the risk of becoming a side show like Vince McMahon’s WWE. Sure, diehards will always follow baseball, but the general public will never come back. The need to clean up the game is paramount.
Bud Selig has taken the blame for the issue of performance enhancing drugs. He doesn’t deserve complete blame (the player’s association has to shoulder most of the blame here). But, he can be the man to clean it all up. Regardless of the current agreement, Commissioner Selig must use his “best interest of the game” clause to its fullest power. The idea of suspending a player for 50 games is no longer enough to restore the fans’ faith in the game of baseball. Even suspending a player for one season is no longer enough. The Commissioner must ban that player for life.
It may sound extreme, but that statement is not based on sensationalism. It is based on the sound logic that the only way to clean up the game is to take drastic measures.
- Baseball is losing its credibility for the first time? So, A-Rod's admission makes more of a mockery of the game than Barry Bonds flouting the law and ending up as the all-time home run king? A-Rod has damaged the sport's credibility more than Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmiero, Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa did?
- The general public will never come back? Umm, see the attendance figures. They, obviously, haven't gone away. Also, if a strike and a cancelled World Series didn't drive fans away for good, nothing will.
- Bud Selig is the man to clean up the mess, and he needs to ban steroid users for life. I have to stop laughing before I can rebut that. Selig is the man for the job? No, he isn't. He is complicit in the whole mess, whether he wants to accept blame or not. His ignorance and incompetence allowed this whole mess to spiral out of control in the first place. He can't put the genie back in the bottle.
If it is proven that Rodriguez has been using a performance enhancing drug since 2003, even with circumstantial evidence, he must be shown the door much like Pete Rose. ... The time has come for this drastic measure. If the players and the Commissioner can’t see that this issue has gotten worse instead of better, the sport is truly in trouble. It can start and end with Alex Rodriguez. Because of his continued cover-ups and lies, he must serve as the example to fans and other players. If one cheats, one forfeits the privilege to play professional baseball. If that practice is put into place, the game will be clean. As the past two years have proven, there is no other alternative.
So, because Alex Rodriguez' name is the only one of the 104 players who tested whose name has been made public, he should be strung up and made an example of? How about we get all the names first before we vilify one guy for being an idiot.
"If one cheats, one forfeits the privilege to play professional baseball." Does that mean anyone who corks a bat gets banned for life? Or, any pitcher who uses sandpaper to scuff the ball?
Players have always found ways to cheat, and they will continue to do so. I am not condoning any of the use of performance-enhancing drugs, it sickens me as much as it does anyone else.
But the game -- in fact, any professional sport -- will never be completely clean again. There is too much money, too much fame and too many ways those who want an edge can stay one step ahead of the system.
Baseball may not be the same innocent, romantic game it was in my youth 40 years ago. It is, however, not going to die from the stupidity of Alex Rodriguez.