'Duk: I gotta tell you, DB, I was feeling pretty good on Friday afternoon. It was warming up here in Chicago, they were packing that Red Sox equipment truck out in Boston and spring training was creeping steadily onto my horizon. After a few months of trying to keep this blog filled with anything baseball-related, I was looking forward to finally discussing the nuts 'n bolts of the sport. Y'know, position battles. Pitching staff improvements. How lineups look different with an added free agent. The thoughts were getting me all excited with anticipation and if my webcam would have been turned on, you would have actually seen my rubbing my hands together like a gizzard-eatin' grandpa before Thanksgiving dinner.
But then Saturday morning happened and the baseball world was sent into an all A-Roid, all the time frenzy. Now we're looking at a spring full of controversy, particularly if we ever learn any of the other 103 names on that list. We're only on Day 3 of this saga, but I'm already feeling quite fatigued and already want to move onto talking about baseball. My question to you, is, just how outraged should we be about A-Rod right now? Should we really let this overtake our upcoming baseball season?
David Brown: Mr. 'Duk, on the outrage-o-meter (which is different than the Shawon-o-Meter), this whole A-Roid situation should be anywhere from a 1-10.
If anybody out there reads and trusts our country's greatest investigative journalist, Jose Canseco, this is a "1" because Canseco TOLD us that A-Rod did drugs in his Vindicated book. Canseco said then that A-Rod was sniffing around Canseco's wife and his drugs. Canseco was right in his first book and he's right in this one. In that context, no one should be surprised or outraged.
However, it can also be a "5" on the outrage-o-meter because it appears everybody and their mom was on the 'roids. You are so right about THAT being the story of the spring. Who else tested positive on this list? Some folks, maybe most, won't care because it was five years ago, but that's not going to stop the TJ O'Quinns of the world from investigating. It'll be a big deal.
It can also be a "10" because A-Rod was so careful about crafting his own image that it surprises me on some level that he tried the drugs (I thought, maybe, he'd be one of those "I don't need that stuff and I don't want to put it into my body kind of guys" and I'm surprised that he allowed himself to get caught. ... If you're an A-Rod fan, you're owed an apology for lying about it, as he did on 60 Minutes, etc., even before you get one for "juicin' "'Duk: Ah, David. I have to say that I love the idea of an outrage-o-meter. In fact I move to have an outrage-o-meter permanently embedded in the Stew sidebar from this point forward. Perhaps we can attach little nodes to our temples so it also produces an accurate reading? Let's get the Yahoo! engineers on that immediately.
At any rate, I guess you can mark me down as a '1' on this scale as it pertains to A-Rod, but let it be known that Jose Canseco doesn't figure into that ranking — at least not directly. The reason why I'm not that outraged is that I think I've always figured this news was going to surface about A-Rod. Maybe not this soon, of course, but when you're an absolute lightning rod, it only stands to reason that there will be people willing to do the necessary digging and others willing to point those people toward the info. Since the steroid culture was so prevalent in baseball, I figured it was only a matter of time that we saw A-Rod caught in its web. Everyone, save for Greg Maddux, is suspect.
I have to say that when I read so many of the reactions, I feel a little bit bad for not feeling more shocked, outraged, stunned or any other adjective you can come up with. I mean, a few columnists might have you believe that this news about A-Rod is the death of American innocence as we know it and I can't just come anywhere close to getting that worked up over it. Do I wish A-Rod would've been clean? Sure. But do I feel like I don't want to watch baseball ever again or that someone has punched me in the gut? Not really. Maybe I'm just well-balanced that way.
Anyway, I'd like to think that a lot of fans share my shrugging indifference. Would you agree?
DB: I think there are a good amount of fans who are indifferent, and even among the fans who DO care, only a handful of them will care enough to not go to games. There's a whole bunch of fans who care but only enough to boo, or to make an anti-A-Rod banner. Those kinds of fans are "OK" for baseball, because they came to the game anyway. I suppose what happens next depends on what A-Rod does. Will he not say ANYTHING? Will he deny/rationalize? Will he come clean? What do you think he'll do?
'Duk: I think his only option is to pull what's now known as an "Andy Pettitte" and play the "Well, everyone else was doing it" card. Most every American knows the power of peer pressure and are willing to forgive, so long as the person is contrite. Making $275 million tests the limits of those truths, sure, but I think even A-Rod would be forgiven once he showed a human side that we haven't seen from Misters Bonds and Clemens. Will I think he decides on that route? You'd have to think so, but I'm wondering why we haven't heard a peep from him yet, not even a "Hey, back off, I'm trying to word this the best way I can, be patient!" release from his PR people. (By the way, he DOES have PR people, right?)DB: See, I don't know if an Andy Pettitte-type defense will work. He's not an aging lefthander, he's A-Rod, dammit, supposedly the bestest slugger in all the land. He doesn't "need steroids." It's going to be hard for him to explain it all away. If I were him, I might go for "faulty testing." Create doubt about the process. It works in court and it might work in the court of public opinion. He's young enough, and he's good enough and he has years for people to forgive him as he heads toward Bonds' Aaron's record. Maybe nobody really will care by the time he's near 700-whatever homers. (Funny that I don't know the number)
'Duk: It's 762, Mr. Brown. I know this because I just looked it up. Now that I think about it, you're probably right that our generation's best ballplayer won't be able to just explain it away. But at this point, I'm willing to go with whatever he gives us and move on and try to watch some baseball, imperfect as it may be. Look, as long as there is sport, athletes are always going to look for an edge and we're going to pretend to be outraged when we find out they were looking for one. That's just the way things work, I suppose. Some bloggers and columnists might want to beat this drum for a long time, but not I, Mr. Deebo. We're going to cover this story on the Stew, of course, but I'm laying down an edict of a melancholy-free approach. My innocence was shattered long ago, but it had nothing to do with a syringe and a baseball player's behind. I suppose it's the same with many of us. You have the last word.
DB: Before you head to the In-N-Out Burger (and say hi to the Dude, Walter and Donny), I want to know how your innocence was shattered. What was her name? ... In closing, it's not that I don't *care* about guys doing steroids, lyin' and cheatin'. I do. I just think the steroid issue is the most overrated topic of our time. It's not really any of my business, what these guys put in their bodies and I don't mind if their performance is enhanced chemically. If they want to take the chance of hurting themselves long term (if they are indeed taking a chance), go ahead and take it. If they think doping up will help them hit more home runs, let them dope up. Does it set the right example for high school kids? No, not that I think it should be OK for high school kids to do steroids. But professional athletes? Just give 'em clean needles and start shooting, boys.
- Jose Canseco