Monday, August 5, 2013

Heroes, Models, and Feet of Clay

There were a couple of topics under consideration for this week’s episode, but I need to address MLB, PEDs and hero worship.

I love  baseball. This is a well-established factoid and anyone who knows me well also knows my love of the game began with mad crushes on PeeWee Reese and Duke Snider. Actually, I’ve written about this any number of times, but today’s version is not with the same relish. In fact, I am so sad that I find even writing about this difficult. No one like to admit a most beloved thing has feet of clay.

Here’s today’s 13 suspensions:

1.    Alex Rodriguez             Yankees third baseman          211 games
2.    Nelson Cruz                  Rangers outfielder                  50 games
3.    Jhonny Peralta              Tigers shortstop                     50 games
4.    Everth Cabrera             Padres shortstop                    50 games
5.    Antonio Bastardo           Phillies reliever                     50 games
6.    Jordany Valdespin         Mets outfielder                      50 games
7.    Francisco Cervelli         Yankees catcher                     50 games
8.    Jesus Montero               Mariners catcher                    50 games
9.    Cesar Puello                 Mets outfielder (minors)          50 games
10. Sergio Escalona            Astros pitcher (minors)            50 games
11. Fernando Martinez        Yankees outfielder (minors)     50 games
12. Fautino De Los Santos    Padres pitcher                       50 games
13. Jordan Norberto           free-agent pitcher                  50 games

It’s not just baseball. Football rosters these days also resemble blotter sheets. These are just five members of the class of 2013:

1.       Aaron Hernandez  – New England Patriots – murder
2.       Ausar Walcott – Cleveland Browns – attempted murder
3.       Adam Pacman Jones – Cincinnati Bengals – assault
4.       Quentin Groves – Cleveland Browns – caught in prostitution sting
5.       Leroy Hill – Seattle Seahawks – two felony counts of domestic violence.

Basketball, hockey, even tennis and golf; there isn’t a sport that isn’t tainted by violence and illegal substance use. How is this okay for kids to hold these people up to a higher level of icon?

Steve (ז"ל) was a great devotee of cyclist Greg LeMond.  Despite a road accident followed by an accidental shooting while hunting, LeMond return to racing and returned to the top of the Tour circuit. His anti-doping stance cost him dearly, but he stuck to his guns year in and year out. Steve stressed that to the kids. Greg LeMond became the gold standard. If you couldn’t live up to LeMond’s level, you couldn’t be a hero. ( In 2006, LeMond accused the Union Cycliste Internationale of doping related corruption...and continues to do so.)

Neither of us parental units encouraged hero worship amongst the athletic set. We were of a single mind that a man’s character was not separate from his talent on the playing field and both needed to be carefully considered when handing out accolades and adulation. I called the junior son, the one who was the three sport athlete in high school, to ask who his sports heroes were because the only one I could recall being held aloft was Ken Griffey, Jr. Even then, it wasn’t exactly hero worship. So I guess I wasn’t all that surprised when he said, "There weren’t any…except maybe for Ken Griffey, Jr. and that's was because he was a good guy.”  

Tonight, A-Rod was resoundingly  booed at this first at bat in Chicago. Are people rushing to judgment? Probably not since he was already working hard to negotiate a settlement with MLB before the announced the suspension. That kinda gives it away no matter what he ultimately says. You really think the kids didn’t notice?

Bad sportsmanship, drug abuse, banned substance abuse, felonies, domestic violence…all of this stuff makes the front page, the sports page, and, most unfortunately, the OpEd page. We pay these guys a zillion dollars, but they cannot manage to control themselves on or off the field. Yes, sports is highly competitive and everyone is looking for an edge, but what message are we sending to the kids coming up through Little League, PeeWee League, Midget League…whatever league? Does letting a kid wear the jersey of a guy who is banned for using PEDs also tell the kid it’s okay to sneak in  few steroids…so long as you don’t get caught? What if he's in the can for attempted murder? Should the message change?

If athletes are to be held aloft as heroes and role models, let them behave as such. Let's all make certain that those who deserve excoriation get it. For everyone's sake, athletes need to walk the walk and not just mumble the talk. If they want to be on the jerseyed backs of our kids, then they damn well better earn that place with honorable behavior.

If we don't absolutely insist on that, when exactly are we gonna get around to teaching our kids about honor?

The Wifely Person Tip o'the Week
Never comment on an angry, hostile person's blog. 
They are neither going to get nor understand what you're trying to say. 
It's a waste of perfectly good electrons. 


  1. Thanks for the tip... I will hereby discontinue commenting on your blog. FYI I used up my electrons years ago.

  2. WP, I find it interesting that Duke Snider was your childhood hero, since he was no saint either (despite media reports to the contrary).

    While it is widely known that in 1995, Snider pleaded guilty to federal tax charges and was sentenced to two years' probation and fined $5,000 (by a Brooklyn judge, no less), few knew that the Duke used performance enhancing guacamole while playing for the Dodgers.

    He in fact was so taken with the substance that when he retired from baseball he became an avocado farmer in Fallbrook, CA, the "avocaco capital of the world."

    1. I was four years old. He was a BROOKLYN Dodger. I thought he was handsome. What did I know from tax evasion? I was busy with big brother evasion.

  3. In every society in every age, the phenomenon of "heroes" persists. And with it come scandals and disappointment, every time we realize just how human these "heroes" actually are. I appreciate how you approached this matter with your children, as they sound like grounded people with values based in stronger stuff than the successes and failures of fallen stars. I wonder if humans will ever outgrow the need for public heroes? Should we try to do so? Considering the fact that there are a few "good" heroes out there, it's a question I'm not sure how to answer.

  4. "Sports" players today make me PROUD to be a couch potato. Seriously, when I do my morning and evening mile walk, I may not win any races, but I do all the walking under my own power and skill. Today's "sportsmen" make me sick, especially the likes of Lance Armstrong who lie and deny for so long.....