MLB…Was it worth it?

…and then there are incidents and storylines that leave me sadly shaking my head, while I try to understand what motivates people to act in a certain way. What was the driving force that led to a particular action? What did they hope to gain? Was the risk worth the reward? Today, my plan is to shine a light on this subject as it relates to the world of baseball. Believe me, there are plenty of case studies to be had, but I am only going to use a small sample size.
Our first stop is in The Bronx at venerable Yankee Stadium, the home of one Alex Rodriguez. He was accused in the Biogenisis lab scandal involving PEDs. He swore up-and-down that he was innocent of using steroids, or falsifying testimony, or any number of other actions. He was investigated, and MLB found him guilty of all the charges. I am not going to go into all the minutiae of the scandal, as anybody can just look it up. MLB suspended Rodriguez for 162 games, which amounted to the entire 2014 season. Rodriguez was once that player who was considered to have the potential to be one of, if not THE greatest player in the history of the game. It was once thought that the name of Alex Rodriguez would have been able to be mentioned in the same breath as Ruth, Gherig, Mantle, Dimaggio, Aaron, and the other immortals of baseball. Now his golden-boy reputation is permanently stained. He has lost the respect of the baseball community. He is a punchline. In his quest to be the greatest ever, he became the example of what not to do for everyone to see. It is sad. All of his great potential and impressive career statistics are now going to be forever scrutinized, and he will be lumped in with the vilified cheaters in baseball history. So, Alex Rodriguez…was it worth it?
My next stop is Chicago, home of the 2014 U.S. Little League World Series winners, the Jackie Robinson West team. What makes this so sad is that the kids themselves were simply playing the game. If things were being manipulated behind the scenes, they certainly had no part in it. They had talent. They had a drive to win. They had fun. They were also pawns in a larger game being played for some glory-seeking adults. These people will say that they just did it for the kids, but I am not so sure that I believe that. The adults from Jackie Robinson West knew that they were using ineligible players. Of course, the officials and coaches from the league will jump up and down and shout that they are innocent, but all anyone had to do was jump on the internet and do a quick search on the players, and they will find that many of the players who played on the championship team were not eligible to be on the team. That folks, is called cheating. The result is that the Jackie Robinson West team was stripped of their title, and they were forced to vacate all of their wins. The Jackie Robinson West team is now forever linked with a cheating scandal. So tell me, was it worth it?
Why does it seem that stories of cheating get everybody so spun up? Well, for one thing it is simply wrong. Most people will play by the established rules of a game. They will stay inside the lines. When somebody cheats, everyone loses. In the old Wild West, if you were caught cheating at cards, you got shot. The 1919 Chicago Black Sox conspirators were banned from baseball. Lance Armstrong had all seven of his Tour D’ France titles stripped from him, and he was permanently banned from his sport. Pete Rose was accused and found guilty of betting on his own team when he was the manager of the Cincinnati Reds. He accepted a lifetime ban from baseball. And then we have the whole ‘steroid era’, filled with accusations and asterisks. Sadly, there are too many examples of dishonesty and cheating for me to list here in this blog.
I think that another question that I have is this…What made these people think that they were not going to get caught? Did they believe that they were really that smart? Did they believe that the world-at-large was so gullible that nobody would notice? There is an arrogance to people like this that disgusts me to my core. And the worst part is that the people that are generally harmed from things like this are usually innocent. The young ballplayers from Jackie Robinson West? They have been hurt, and it is permanent. They may move on from it, but they will never forget it. They will have to live with the stigma of having played on ‘that little league team from Chicago that cheated’. It will follow them everywhere. As far as Alex Rodriguez is concerned, he not only hurt himself, but he hurt his team, he hurt baseball fans, he hurt the people who he tried to drag down with him, and he hurt the game by giving it another black eye.
So my question to all of the cheaters, whether or not you got caught…was it worth it?

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