This would only be sad if it were a shocking revelation. If somehow, Alex Rodriguez’s steroid use was the tipping point, the moment we all realized that performance-enhancing drugs had destroyed an entire period in baseball. But we’re way beyond that now. The damage was done long ago. The problem with ARod is that he not only adds to the wreckage of these tainted times; he also extends the era.
If the Sports Illustrated report, which cites four independent sources, is true, it guarantees that we will be discussing the men who cheated the game for at least as long as Rodriguez continues to chip away at the already-blemished records of Barry Bonds.
While we all recognize that steroid use went far beyond a select few, we generally hold four of the era’s greatest players more accountable than everyone else –Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. None of those four were on a Major League team last season it appears unlikely any will ever play again.
The talk was fading. The key culprits were out of the game and we were looking at the next generation of great ballplayers to clean up the sport. Now ARod will keep steroids fresh on our minds into the next decade.
As great as he has been, we forget that Rodriguez still has a long way to go before he reaches the record books. He might not get to 600 homeruns this season. He’s still over 100 away from reaching that first of four statistical bonuses in his contract that guarantee him $6 million when he ties Willie Mays, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds in homeruns. ARod has only just begun his assault on history.
So as we prepare for another Spring Training to begin, fresh with those young rising stars who are supposed to rescue baseball, we still have to look the cheaters right in the face, as opposed to just forgetting about them. We now have to watch former players fake being happy for Rodriguez as he shatters history, the same way they did with Bonds.
Rodriguez almost becomes the worst cheat of all. At least the four other key culprits were at the tail-end of their careers. The fifth is in his prime and still has so much more damage to cause.