A-Rod’s admission further tarnishes our Pastime

By Dave Fultz

What happened to our once proud pastime?

Alex Rodriguez was like the last great gunslinger in your favorite western movie, just waiting to take his place as the best of all time. He’d outlasted all of the other great sluggers as they were gunned down by the cold, hard facts that have risen in this decade to taint the stars of the last quarter-century of baseball history.

Rodriguez was the man we’d all turned to, in a hope that he could save our collective baseball souls after we’d learned of the sins of the men who’d come before him. He was the man who would take back all of baseball’s most precious records; he was the man who would take back our national pastime and prove that the clean players could still eclipse the dirty.

But not now. SI.com broke the news Saturday that Rodriguez had tested positive for anabolic steroids in MLB’s 2003 survey test of performance enhancing drug use in baseball.

Now we – especially the young men and women of my generation – are left to realize that the baseball of our childhood and teenage years will forever be tarnished. We’ll never know if our memories are real or if our heroes were actually heroes.

It is baseball’s endless obsession with numbers and the records they represent that has made the misdeeds of those in the Steroid Era so tragic. Numbers like 60, 61 and 755 used to mean something. Now they’ve been replaced by numbers you don’t want to remember and asterisks you’ll never forget.

Now, it’s certainly not as if we all haven’t gone through this before. Roger Clemens followed Barry Bonds into infamy, just as Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire had done before them. Their stories had almost desensitized us to the news of Rodriguez’s positive test, but his reaction was something new.

Never has a superstar of Rodriguez’s magnitude come forward and admitted to steroid allegations like he did on Monday. And if history shows, it was the smart thing for him to do. Baseball fans have demonstrated – with men like Jason Giambi and Andy Pettite – that honesty will go a long way toward repairing the bridges that steroid use can burn.

I’m certainly not saying that Rodriguez should be absolved of everything because of his honesty, but it is appreciated. Bonds is currently under a mountain of legal trouble because he allegedly lied about his steroid use to a grand jury, and his public image will forever be linked solely to steroids and the controversies he caused.

I’ve been hard on Bonds since the rumors of his steroid use started in the early part of this decade and I’ll be equally hard on Rodriguez, but the public might not be as harsh because of the circumstances surrounding his story.

These damning test results were supposed to have remained anonymous, but by some mistake, either by the player’s union or MLB itself, they have now seen the light of day. Also, Rodriguez was among 104 players on the list of those who tested positive and only his name is being dragged through the mud because of his superstar status.

Curt Schilling wrote on his blog Sunday that all 104 names should be revealed, and I agree with him 100 percent. He wrote “if you don’t do that, then the other 600-700 players are going to be guilty by association, forever.”

While the Steroid Era might have taken the shine away from baseball for a generation of fans, the naming of names and transparency of information can only be a good thing. Only with all of the facts can we, fans and writers alike, put this era in perspective.

Only with all of the facts can we tell our kids years from now that there was once a time when baseball wasn’t at its best, and that time is behind us.

Dave Fultz is a senior in Media. He can be reached at [email protected]