Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ghost of Mariner Past

©2009 by LeeZard

This is about baseball but it is also about life. Have you been following the sob story soap drama of Alex Rodriguez and his admitted use of steroids?

After ESPN.com reported that Rodriguez tested positive in 2003 for steroids, the New York Yankees’ third baseman came sort of clean (but, not until someone else outed him!). The “good” news for Rodriguez is that in 2003 Major League Baseball had no penalties for use of the performance enhancing drugs so he faces neither legal or league sanctions. The bad news for Rodriguez is that it already sullies his sullied reputation as a human being.

In the interest of full disclosure, Leezard has been an Alex Rodriguez detractor since he took the money and ran from the Seattle Mariners in 2001. He came to the Mariners as a young 18-year old phenom without ever playing a minor league game. In his first full season – 1996 – he hit an amazing .358 with 123 runs batted in. Mariners’ fans – LeeZard included – took the budding young superstar to our collective heart. When he became a free agent after the 2000 season A-Rod, as we affectionately called him, told us it wasn’t only about the money; he wanted to go with a winning franchise.

The next thing we knew, he took an obscene amount of money – $252-million over ten years – to play for one of baseball’s losingest franchises, the Texas Rangers, and a Seattle baseball tradition was born. The first time LIE-ROD – as LeeZard affectionately dubbed him – appeared at Seattle’s Safeco Field in a Rangers’ uniform boos and Monopoly money rained down from the stands. To this day, jeering justifiably continues – although we’ve decided he’s not worth wasting the Monopoly money. Okay, that’s the baseball part of the story.

The more important issue is that over the ensuing years, Lie-Rod solidified his reputation as a disingenuous, superficial, spoiled and dishonest person. Whether it was cheating on his wife and fooling around with Madonna or messing with the chemistry of an already over-stressed Yankees’ clubhouse, LIE-Rod floated above it all with a carefully cultivated image of Mr. Clean, the world’s best baseball player. At one point, he even denied using performance-enhancing substances and was anointed as the best chance to clean up the image of baseball’s most hallowed statistic, all-time home run king, now held by the disgraced Bobby Bonds.

Even after his steroid use disclosure, An-Droid – as LeeZard affectionately dubbed him – had the chance to make it, and his reputation, right. Instead of taking full responsibility, however, An-Droid chose to dissemble. Instead of saying, “I cheated and lied, I was wrong,” he claims he didn’t know his cousin was injecting him with steroids. Instead of asking for forgiveness, he says he will leave it to others to decide if he cheated.

Yes, this is about life (but here come the baseball metaphors). This is about stepping up to the plate and taking full responsibility for your actions. It’s about taking one for the team and speaking out about illegal drug use and, it’s about hitting a home run by telling the whole truth instead of looking at the third strike as a coward.

LeeZard can’t wait for An-Droid to make his first 2009 appearance at Safeco Field.