By Jason Keidel
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To paraphrase Al Pacino (and Silvio Dante after him): Just when you think you’re out, they pull you back in…
Yuri Sucart, the most famous irrelevant relative in America, was arrested, drawing his cousin, Alexander Emanuel Rodriguez, back into the unflattering light of his past. It was part of a sweeping federal probe into an elaborate, illegal steroid distribution ring — led by Biogenesis, of course, which is proving to be rather fertile with high-end MLB clients such as Ryan Braun, Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon and Nelson Cruz.
According to USA Today, additional names could be spilled once this investigation is concluded; more players stuck to the PR flypaper that Bud Selig and his minions thought would be clean from now on. But we know that one player, who’s already been caught and sentenced, soars above the horde.
Whenever Tony Bosch is mentioned, you know it’s going to be a bad day for A-Rod. Though I led the stampede over his image, career and legacy, it’s almost become gratuitous.
A-Rod has become the scarred face of the steroid era, quickly and completely supplanting Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Even when he’s been banished from the sport, he falls through the trap doors of his ignominy.
William Faulkner said, “The past is never dead. It’s not even the past.” And with each morbid reminder of the steroid era, you wonder if it is indeed behind the sport.
Clearly PEDs are dwindling, as evidenced by the plunging production at the plate league-wide. Clayton Kershaw is getting his Koufax on. The Yankees, the renowned Bronx Bombers, don’t have one regular hitting .300 and have an alarming, anemic team batting average of .251. They have only five hitters guaranteed to hit at least 10 homers. And they have scored just 457 runs as a team, which projects to about 650 total runs in 2014. (They scored 867 runs in 2011, 859 runs in 2010 and 915 runs in 2009.)
But not long ago, Braun was pinched, cleared and then finally wrangled by the long rope of justice. And as long as stars show their dark stripes, we won’t shake this solemn chapter of baseball history. Assuming it’s history. Cruz was a high-profile bust. Cabrera lost the sizzle on his pseudo-batting title. Even Francisco Cervelli got in the act, if you’d like a local vibe to the story.
So, does anyone believe that players have stopped looking around every dark corner for a drug? And if they aren’t currently cheating, are they looking for the next clandestine lab pregnant with PEDs? Chemists are always stirring the pot of malfeasance. As soon as a new undetectable cocktail is created, you wonder if there will be a new slew of volunteers to chew it or shoot it.
But the more we lament A-Rod’s rap sheet, the less likely we will either move on or focus on future miscreants. For better or worse, A-Rod is finished in any profound, professional sense. Not that he hasn’t earned his eternal perp walk.
Like Braun before and after him, A-Rod denied doping in any form. Then he stormed into WFAN host Mike Francesa’s studio and demanded that Selig be present at his hearings, asserting some abstract right to “face his accuser.” Selig didn’t attend Braun’s adjudication, or anyone else’s, for that matter.
The cliché says that the cover-up is worse than the crime. While that’s not exactly true in the cases of Braun and A-Rod, their theatrics make it impossible to sweep their histories under the rug. In the age of myriad media, we have unflattering clips on eternal loop — just ask Ray Rice. And the celebrities already drowning in their rampant sense of entitlement think they can just buy or blast their way out of trouble, because that’s what they’ve done their entire lives.
And behind the cheating and lying are endless layers of personal strife. A-Rod had marital woes and a cousin allegedly scoring steroids for him. Braun, meanwhile, was being hit with a defamation suit by his supposed BFF and was accused of various infidelities while engaged.
Of course, the TMZ types are big-game hunters, and anyone in A-Rod’s orbit is a 12-point buck to hang on the front page of websites. Celebrity sells, and there’s nothing we love more than to watch the big stars plunge from the dark skies. The bourgeois baseball stars brood from their Learjet, looking down on the world while the rest of us live in it. So sympathy is scant.
And so lingers the aura of suspicion after suspensions. It has been somewhat quiet on the steroid front this year. But does that mean the masses have learned a lesson, or are they just waiting for a new drug?
Or are the PED witchdoctors on the verge of a new potion or new cream that keeps their clients in the clear?
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