Tuesday, August 6, 2013

On Cheating

TigerBlog isn't quite sure where to begin with the whole Alex Rodriguez situation and the sensory overload that he experienced yesterday when it was all A-Rod all the time.

Maybe, though, he should start with something Tony Kornheiser said on PTI. Paraphrasing, it went something like this: In the entire history of sports, there has always been cheating and there will always be someone who tries to cheat.

Somewhere else in the mountain of A-Rod talk was someone who likened yesterday's suspension of 13 Major League players, 12 of whom accepted their punishments and A-Rod who has chosen to fight it,  to the Black Sox suspensions, after eight players including Shoeless Joe Jackson were banned for life for their roles in throwing the 1919 World Series.

TigerBlog disagrees. This one is worse, way worse, if only because the Black Sox were viewed as a national tragedy and this is viewed mostly with a shrug and an "oh well" and back to business, with just another layer of something that was once pure and innocent ripped away.

Except for the A-Rod part.

Then it's about revulsion at just how dishonest one person can be and how much that person can think anyone is falling for what he's saying.

The last seven months have been a nightmare, A-Rod? Is that what you said?

Rodriguez makes $28 million for 2013. Assuming that salary is paid off monthly for the year (TB doesn't think it actually is, but for the sake of argument let's say it is), then he's made more than $16 million for this last seven months, during which time he and TigerBlog had the same number of at-bats for the New York Yankees.

Yes, quite the nightmare.

And yet there he was yesterday, trying to actually generate sympathy for him as somehow the victim of all of this, like he is being persecuted.

The most telling analysis came from Curt Schilling, who hit more of a home run than A-Rod did while collecting that nightmarish $16 million with his take on Rodriguez' avoidance of the question of whether he had done PEDs.

There are basically two answers to that question, was what Schilling said. It's either "no," which means "no," or any other answer, which means "yes." When A-Rod said he woudn't discuss it, he was really saying "yes," was Schilling's obvious point.

And it's a good one.

A-Rod is staring at a 211-game suspension, which would wipe out the rest of this year and all of next year and bring him back in 2015 at age 40. The Yankees, of course, hate A-Rod and want nothing to do with his insane contract, but it has nothing to do with the fact that he's a cheat and everything to do with the fact that he's shot and can't produce anymore.

A-Rod himself said that he'd be accepted by his teammates and the fans if he produced.

And the fact that he will have a chance to produce, at least until his appeal is heard? That's something that looks awful on the surface, with the irony that his first appearance of 2013 came on the day he was given a 211-game suspension.

It's understandable, though. There are a lot of dollars at stake for him, after all, and his suspension is four times longer than the others, so why not fight it? It's not like his reputation is ever savable from this point on.

A-Rod was in Trenton last week for a rehab assignment, during which time he also went on a tour of the Princeton campus. TigerBlog saw a picture of him in Dillon Gym, and there were others online as well.

Princeton's campus is fairly quiet now. Most summer camps are over. Preseason practices are not here yet, but they are just around the corner.

And that brings TB back to what Kornheiser said.

Is sports really so closely aligned with cheating that the two cannot be separated?

A-Rod already had more money than he'll ever know what to do with, but what about the others on the list? Was it worth it to Ryan Braun? Maybe he wouldn't have gotten a fraction of the money he got had he not cheated. Or the others on the list who are barely Major Leaguers. Maybe they would never have gotten to that level at all?

And what about all of the athletes who are getting ready to come back to Princeton or are coming here for the first time? Or the rest of the Ivy League or the rest of college athletics?

What have they been willing to do to make this happen? Are there cheaters everywhere, like Kornheiser suggests?

TigerBlog wasn't the least bit phased by any of the people on the list yesterday, or when Von Miller was suspended by the NFL. Or by Lance Armstrong.

But it it's prevalent on this level, then TB would have a real problem with it.

Maybe he shouldn't though. As long as there's a prize out there, whether it's money or a college scholarship or the opportunity to compete athletically and academically in the Ivy League, then maybe there will be someone - a few someones - who will cut any corner to make it happen.

Maybe Tony Kornheiser is right.

TigerBlog hopes he isn't.

Still, the sports world is a little less pure today than it was yesterday. The bar has been lowered a little bit more. The ability for the average fan to be shocked by something has again been lessened.

One of the great appeals of Princeton athletics, of  Ivy League athletics, has always been the purity.

TB never wants that to change, no matter what happens anywhere else.

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