Time to Grow Up

Last week, we found out Alex Rodriguez’s name would forever be inked on the list of steroid users in baseball. While this revelation should come as no surprise to anyone, the reverberations have obviously carried through to A-Rod’s news conference yesterday(we will no doubt be hearing A-Rod discuss this issue with reporters throughout the season). Now, sports reporters everywhere, who had pinned their hopes of watching Barry Bonds’ homerun record be shattered by someone they believed to have been clean, have had their hopes pulverized. While these reporters will ask Rodriguez for a pint of blood every week for the rest of his career(they are going to need something to justify them voting for Alex for the Hall of Fame and blackballing Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Palmeiro, and Clemens) the steroids really isn’t what bothers me about any of this.
The Golden Age of baseball(sports reporters openly will wax poetically about the character of the game and the players during these times) was full of it’s share of miscreants and cheaters. Guys popped ‘Greenies'(amphetamines) for energy during the games(performance enhancing maybe?). They drank like fish. They openly smoked in the dugouts. Ty Cobb was a racist. Babe Ruth was a womanizing alcoholic. The character of these characters were less than sparkling and yet sports writers and fans behold these men upon pedestals with shimmering sunshine enveloping them. Steroids in today’s game? Tarnishing records that have already been tarnished by the sport’s initial racism(Josh Gibson hit 69 homeruns in 1934 for the Negro Leagues and may have over 800 homeruns)? Tarnishing records with performance enhancing drugs the sport and the writers following the sport decided to ignore for years? Steroids are not what bothers me about Alex Rodriguez.
Beyond all the holes in his story(His cousin just grabbed some drugs like a contestant on Supermarket Sweep, smuggled them home and injected Alex for three years?) the one thing that Alex kept repeating that kept infuriating me more was his admission of being, “young and dumb”.
At what point do we cease being young and dumb? A-Rod was twenty four? Twenty five? When is the 38th Parallel of crossing into adulthood achieved? I was young and dumb from 16 to about 20. Then I was just a moron. Then my antics were no longer tolerated by functioning members of society that have no time for “young and dumb”. In a society that pays athletes and entertainers millions of dollars a year and teachers have to strike in order to keep their benefits, those of us on the picket lines don’t have time to be young and dumb(not that anyone would listen to us anyway). I had no choice but to grow up for the sake of my future earnings in a blue collar world.
I suppose this is what we should expect when men are paid exorbitant sums of money to play a game we all most likely played in the street with our buddies or in our backyards? The culture of celebrity(where athletes have now fallen) in our country allows for these excuses. Whether it is feigning some sort of addiction(Apparently David Duchovny is a sex addict? Poor guy.) or using the young and dumb excuse. If anything, A-Rod should have been more mature than the rest of us. He began his career at 18. He was surrounded by grown men. He should have been light years ahead of the rest of us in the maturity department. Instead, at 24, he is still young and dumb, which he said countless times as if he were attempting to grease the way for his contrition and giving us some insight as to why he did what he did.
His “young and dumb” excuse does more harm than good for the millions who buy his jersey, cheer him, collect his baseball cards, and devote time and money to watch him play the game. He makes it okay to cheat if you’re just “young and dumb”(take notes kids).
My suggestion to A-Rod? Grow up. Real men don’t make excuses. They take their lumps. When they get knocked down they brush themselves off and get back up. When they are wrong they take the responsibility for it(unless we are arguing with our wives and we know we are right).
So Alex Rodriguez took steroids? He is no different from the vast majority of overpaid and overvalued sports stars who merely took part of an era in baseball that tarnished records and numbers no worse than spitballs, ‘greenies’, and racism(and most of those guys have bronze busts in Cooperstown). What I would love to see, from Alex and any other athlete(there will be more), who sits as their press conference to admit to their wrong doings, is to take full responsibility for the doings. To not shirk any level of responsibility for their actions with excuses like being young and dumb. I would like to see them, despite playing a game for a living, grow up.

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