For my own sanity, I am trying to limit how much I write, or for that matter think, about A-Rod and steroids.
The best perspective I’ve found? Rob Neyer:
I hope Alex Rodriguez didn’t cheat. If we do find out that he cheated, I will wish that he hadn’t. But whatever happens, I’m not going to change my opinion that he’s a great baseball player. Like many of the greatest players, he’ll do whatever it takes to be the best player he can be. For a stretch of five or 10 years — and yes, perhaps even today still — being the best player could have meant cheating. Maybe the cheaters were wrong; that’s the direction in which I lean, probably because I’ve got a streak of the moralist in me. But I will not sit idly while great athletes looking for an edge — not all that different from the many generations before them — are demonized by the high priests of baseball opinion. I will not.
Sadly, this is the only sane thing I’ve read about A-Rod since the news originally broke. Neyer’s colleague at ESPN, Jayson Stark decides to take a, well, different route:
Once, the numbers of baseball used to mean something special and magical. And the men who compiled those numbers were transcendent figures in American life.
But not now. Not anymore.
This is the exact sort of self-indulgent demonizing that Neyer refers to. Does this one shady report really change the nature of baseball? Because that is what Stark is implying here. And the irony is that by writing things like this, he is helping to perpetuate his own argument. He is taking down these transcendent figures. He is sullying the numbers. Because numbers are just numbers; it’s people like Stark’s job to help us understand the story that surrounds them. So in some ways, he has himself to blame.