Alex Rodriguez, ridiculously referred to by the nickname A-Rod by millions of adoring fans including impressionable children, told a news conference Monday the past seven months have been a “nightmare, probably the worst time of my life.” He also said he had to stand up for himself because “if I don’t defend myself, no one else will.”
Instead of taking responsibility, he will drag on this charade to the detriment of the fans and the game of baseball. “I am disappointed with the penalty and intend to appeal and fight this through the process,” Rodriguez said in a statement. Quoting Bart Giamatti, former commissioner of Major League Baseball, Fay Vincent earlier this week wrote in Tell the Baseball Druggies: Strike One, You’re Out, that games “are defined by rules without which there can be no games.” The same is true of life, society and civilization itself.
Alex Rodriguez is just behaving in a manner that our society has repeatedly sanctioned as acceptable behavior. When facing severe penalties for breaking the rules, the first instinct is to retreat to denial, because our culture of victimization has replaced personal responsibility. Nowhere in A-Rod’s infinite narcissism, which is couched in the language of victimhood can one find any hint of shame, “disappointed” only by the penalty he failed to consider, not in his own behavior that has “disappointed” millions of youngsters who believed in him.
The game he claims to love, the future players who will now have diminished stature, or the children who subliminally and blatantly absorb the message their society sends to them when those who are heralded as role models display the most disgusting lack of virtue, all are sub-par concerns to a man who has oil paintings of himself above his own bed.
During the news conference, which should have been used to express his remorse but instead provided him a platform to express his self-pity, he refused to go into specifics about his suspension by Major League Baseball, alluding to the possibility that some of the facts are incorrect.
If this sounds familiar, it’s probably because it is the same tactic NYC mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner pulled a few weeks back. Disingenuous apologies, which are quickly followed by excuses and cheap shots on those leveling the charges against them, seem to be all public figures believe the people of New York City are worth these days. Alex Rodriguez said repeatedly he wanted to “let the process play out” as he addressed reporters before taking the field against the Chicago White Sox, where he was booed by fans as he narcissistically stepped up to the plate.
Even though the baseball player now-turned joke is acting as if he is surprised by this outcome, no one else should be, at all. When asked who the real legitimate “Home Run King” was during his interview with “60 Minutes,” the fact that Barry Bonds cheated by doping was not even a factor in his mind, only the number “762 next his name” mattered.
In other words, the ends justify the means, or the drugs justify the “762” homers that Bonds hit under false pretenses, never-mind he cheated and broke the rules to do it. Then, he looked point blank into Couric’s eyes and lied about doping, while blinking furiously and nodding his head up and down instead of side-to-side.
Yet, hindsight is 20/20, and we could have easily predicted Alex Rodriguez would follow the familiar pattern of denial and, once caught, blame everything and everyone except for the one truly responsible – himself.
“There’s nothing about it that’s been easy,” Rodriguez said. “All of it has been challenging. I’m sure there’s been mistakes made along the way. We’re here now. I’m a human being. I’ve had two hip surgeries. I’ve had two knee surgeries. I’m fighting for my life.” Life is hard, being honest is harder, I had four surgeries, and please feel bad for me is not a defense.
But as I have said, we sanction such behavior, and we incentivize dishonesty, because he really had no good reason – well, save for character – to tell the truth.
Under the league’s collective bargaining agreement, Rodriguez, who has missed the entire season due to injuries and was just now ready to come off the disabled list, can actually play while appealing the suspension, which is effective Aug. 8. Just as the UAW attempted to fall back on the amendment to the Michigan Constitution passed by corrupt lawmakers beholden to unions, which stated that pensions cannot be compromised even if those pensions are bankrupting the rest of the state, players who perceive that they have nothing else to lose have an incentive to take down the entire ship.
As a society, we have forgotten that the rule is supposed to be the “Captain goes down with his ship,” not that wannabes who falsely think of themselves as “Captains sabotage the ship and kill the crew with them.” Alex Rodriguez has already lost his credibility, his reputation, his integrity, and the rest of his career. At this point, it is only about the money, as it really always is these days.
Rodriguez’s suspension “is based on his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including Testosterone and Human Growth Hormone, over the course of multiple years,” and for “engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner’s investigation.” Rodriguez would forfeit his salaries from the remainder of this season and all of next, but is owed $61 million by the Yankees from 2015-17. He could earn millions more throughout this appeal process, as he closes in on the all-time home run record, which we already know from his interview he believes he is entitled to break regardless of cheating and lying.
In addition to Rodriguez, baseball handed out 50-game suspensions to a dozen other players for violating Major League Baseball’s drug policy. Yet only Alex Rodriguez, who believes he is larger than baseball itself, has made plans to appeal.
Nelson Cruz stands in staunch contrast to Alex Rodriguez. The Texas Rangers said Monday that they were “disappointed” in Cruz. Cruz said in a statement that he had a gastrointestinal infection that went undiagnosed at the beginning of 2012, making him unsure if he would be physically able to play. “Faced with this situation, I made an error in judgment that I deeply regret, and I accept full responsibility for that error,” Cruz said. “I should have handled the situation differently, and my illness was no excuse.”
I put those words in bold for a reason, because apologies are diminished or even canceled out entirely when they are followed by excuses. Perhaps there are instances when mitigating circumstances are relevant considerations, but immediately after someone is caught and penalized is not the appropriate time for them to invoke them. It underscores the guilty party’s inability to cope with the core failure of character and judgement, and allows them to escape the burden of responsibility that is their’s alone to bear.
Yankee outfielder Curtis Granderson, who was excited Rodriguez could and would play during his appeal, underscores the mentality these players have that is unfortunately more common than those who would applaud Cruz. “I want him back with us. This is arguably one of the best hitters of all time,” he said. “Having him in the lineup is obviously going to be very positive for us.” The comments by Curtis Granderson represent everything wrong with the modernist American mentality and he should be ashamed of himself. Again, the ends (in this case a win for the Yankees), justify the means (sending a message to kids that bad behavior will be rewarded).
Now Rodriguez’s appeal would be heard by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, whose decision will cause reverberations that will reach far beyond Major League Baseball. The game itself has been plagued over the last few decades with scandals that have shaken the confidence in its institutions and institutional actors. But Major League Baseball has not been the only victim of scandals symptomatic of a society experiencing diminished virtue.
There is a collective psychological dynamic that we have all been witnessing, specifically over the last two decades, which has had a profound effect on our national identity. Reversing this very real trend in disturbing behavior will require us to have a conversation that is inherently difficult to have. Introspection, or an inward-looking analysis to find a flaw, is difficult enough on an individual basis, let alone for a collective nation. Beginning such an exercise in national introspection was one main intention behind Our Virtuous Republic, because we certainly cannot rely upon our role models, be them politicians, athletes or Hollywood train-wrecks.
Rodriguez, Anthony Weiner, and Curtis Granderson are exemplary of the “whatever feels good” or “anything goes” progressive mentality that ignores rules and consequence. Since everything is relative and progresses, including morality, then rules are for suckers, not social stability. But as we have observed, there is a direct relationship between moral decay and political prosperity. Historically, during times in which societal virtue was waning, rather than spread the equation for honest success, people of character retreat within their own family and community units. That’s a shame, because virtuous deeds and acts are contagious when observed and, without them, we will sink faster into debauched mannerisms.
Indeed, this has already begun to occur, as the only real role models today sit at our kitchen tables every night after school and work. In a time when so many people are in the business of shirking their greater citizen obligation, as Alex Rodriguez has done by letting down his young fans, let it be a time to highlight those who come through for us everyday in areas of our lives that are real and have real impact. We must start this process to end the idolatry of those who do not possess sufficient virtue to be deserving of the name role model. Perhaps if we observe those deserving more tenaciously, it will begin to spread like a contagion once again.