Outrage and Self-righteousness over steroids

I’ve been sitting on this article for a couple days now, but here’s the idea: Kurt Streeter is angry that more fans aren’t outraged over Manny’s steroid use like he is.  Needless to say, I don’t share his outrage.

Am I out of touch? Am I too angry, too outraged about Manny Ramirez and his dope-induced exile to baseball purgatory?

Yes, you certainly are.

In the last few days, talking to fans during Dodgers games and perusing my e-mail inbox, it’s been striking how many people feel that angry indignation is uncouth, unrealistic and absurd. Striking how many are willing to treat their favorite player as if he’s just gone off on a nice holiday. All will be forgiven, as long as No. 99 comes back swinging a fat bat.

First off, Dodger fans aren’t really too concerned about anything. Win or lose, it’s nice outside where they are, so whatever.

Secondly, how ridiculous would it be for them to hold some kind of grudge against a player who plays for their favorite team? It’s in the best interest of the Dodgers, who are paying him big money, for Manny to come back and hit so therefore it is in the best interest of fans that he do so. Fans root for the laundry. That’s how it works. Who should be angry at Manny? Other players. Manny got $45 million in a recession where some players couldn’t get a contract. Was that because he took steroids? Maybe. Does that effect a fan in any tangible way? Absolutely not.

“Hey, he cheated, everyone has their crutch, it’s not that big a deal,” said Mike Calame, 45, sitting near the left-field foul pole at Dodgers Stadium the other day. He shrugged a shrug I’d end up seeing time and again. “All I know is that he’ll be back, and he’ll be rested. That’ll be great for the Dodgers. . . . I can’t wait.”
“Save the moral panic,” read another. “Most of your readers under the age of 70 have done the same long ago. . . . Is taking steroids cheating? Sure, maybe.”

Sure, maybe? Ho-hum, la-di-da , who cares . . .

How sad.

How sad? Those are some rational fans. They realize it’s stupid to pass self-righteous moral judgment on someone who plays a game to entertain them and who’s infraction they don’t really understand.

So, sitting here in the press box during the Dodgers’ Saturday win against the Giants, the question comes. Am I, along with the other journalists who are breathing fire about this sordid story, simply out of touch with a huge slice of our audience, the who-cares-who-takes-what crowd?

You bet I’m out of touch, and that’s the very reason it’s important everyone in the media keep laying the wood to the rule-breakers and ne’er-do-wells. Someone has to draw the line. Someone has to keep hold of standards. Someone has to give voice to those who know there’s more to life than winning. How you win, how you prepare, the ethics you bring to the ballpark and yes, to life . . . guess what? That matters.

Wow. Get over yourself. You write about sports for a living – you’re not out saving lives. There is more to life than winning; there are family and friends and holidays and crisp autumn days. But for a baseball fan watching their favorite team? There is only entertainment, a gigantic portion of which is dictated by winning and ability.

It’s when we lose track of this, when we as a society are willing to cut too much slack, when we in the press stop drawing a hard line, that deep trouble comes. You get the last eight years, probably longer: a fool’s paradise, not just in sports and entertainment, but in politics and the economy.

Right. Because if only we had stopped these damn steroid users we wouldn’t be in a recession. We wouldn’t have invaded Iraq. Heck, we could have eradicated AIDS, hunger, and war as well. We’d be unstoppable.

The past eight years? That’s an obvious George W. Bush reference, but what does he have to do with this? Part of what made W’s presidency so troublesome is he spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get Americans worried about things that didn’t matter. Prime example number 1? Steroids. Or have you already forgotten Bush giving a long lecture on steroids during his state of the union address? And everyone being flummoxed afterwards because steroids are so insignificant considering the troubles of the world? And surely you don’t forget all the time and money congress wasted talking to blowhards like Palmeiro and Schilling right?

I know the arguments. Who cares what Ramirez or Barry Bonds or A-Rod put in their bodies? So long as my team is on top, so long as I get to drive around with a “World Champs” bumper sticker, it doesn’t really matter.

Really? My wife teaches third grade at a school a mile from Dodger Stadium. Is this what she should tell her kids, a group that has adored Ramirez since he arrived in town? “Kids, it doesn’t matter if you cheat.”

I teach kids, too. Here’s what you tell them: baseball is a great game to watch. It’s 162 games. There are ups and downs; it’s a great drama that keeps you guessing. You cheer for your team when they win and even when times are bad you remember the good times your team gave you.

How baseball players train doesn’t come into the equation. You tell kids that they should be concerned with their health and know what they put in their body. We, as educators, don’t even understand how steroids affect baseball players. We don’t know how much it helps them, if at all, or how it could hurt them, if at all. So why would we even attempt to enter such judgment into what it means to be a baseball fan?

I’m not going to quote anymore of this absurd article, but Streeter does go on to quote some doctor saying taking steroids is like smoking four packs of cigarettes a day, which is not even remotely true.

Please, just stick to covering baseball – you know, on the field where they actually play it. And if you want to be a life-saver, choose another profession.


2 responses to “Outrage and Self-righteousness over steroids

  1. I understand people not being outraged about Manny-steroids, but that means these same people should not have been outraged about Arod-steroids, which was not always the case.

  2. Good point. A-Rod had sportscenter covering him around the clock for a solid week. Where’s Manny’s coverage?

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