Level Playing Field

Over the last few years Alex Rodriguez has moved from baseball's darling to villain and back to star once again.  Once heavily surrounded by the stigma of steroids and his inability to both stay away from them as well as be honest about his use, Rodriguez has seen himself jump back in the lime light this season with a resurrection of sorts as the Yankees DH. And as of May 7, 2015 he passed baseball legend Willie Mays on the All-Time home run list with the 661st home run of his career.  

Many Yankee fans supported Rodriguez and gave him a rousing ovation as he rounded the plate and the next morning discussion was ablaze about whether or not his athletic feats are valid and whether his latest milestone should even be recognized with his history of using PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs) and multiple suspensions as a result.  Just to show you how fragmented the public has been on his milestone, while his accomplishments were being questioned on Baseball tonight ( show on ESPN), Willie Mays himself congratulated Rodriguez citing that records are made to be broken.  Although Yankees fans seem to be in support of A Rod, even the Yankees organization is trying to escape paying him a reportedly six million dollar bonus (I think thats the correct amount) because of the suspensions he has served as a result of his use of PEDs.  

I would like to look at the ordeal from another point of view.  If Rodriguez is being doubted or chastised for his use of PEDs because its considered cheating, then did he really have an unfair advantage seeing as how he was using PEDs during the "Steroid Era"?  A period in baseball where everyone including pitchers were using steroids and many, including potential Hall of Famers were caught and proven to use steroids.  

True, steroids increase strength and speed, but they don't improve patience or hand eye coordination within the batters box which are vital to hitting the ball.  You can be as powerful as you want, but if you don't have to patience to wait for that perfect pitch or the hand-eye coordination to hit the pitch, then you won't get a hit much less smack one over the fence.  And who are we kidding, if pitchers have been found to use them during this period, and Rodriguez along with several other great hitters such as Rafael Palmeiro or Barry Bonds were using them as well, then where was the advantage?  

If they were all cheating then he simply beat them at their game.  There was no unfair advantage, he simply took an illegal route to level the playing field.  You can make a moral argument against the use of PEDs or lying about using them, but if your argument is going to be that he cheated and gained an unfair advantage, then there are some serious holes in that argument.  

I don't know of any drug that will help you see a ball better and there is poetic justice in cheating better than your opponent who is secretly trying to cheat you.  As far as I'm concerned, I wouldn't trust him to give a child a lesson on integrity, but I won't take away from his accomplishments as an athlete either.  Baseball as a whole needs to think about that. 

 Barry Bonds after setting the career home run mark

Barry Bonds after setting the career home run mark