Feb 9, 2009

Tainted



Wow, what a past couple of days. Alex "A Fraud" Rodriguez is identified as having failed a previous drug test for steroids and later admits to using performance enhancing drugs, Chris Brown decides to use his goon hand, and now we learn that Sir Charles will be back on the scene at TNT after the All Star Game. And even though The Grammys were as expected, wack, seeing The "Rap Pack" perform--Jay-Z, Kanye, T.I., and Weezy-- with a pregnant M.I.A. was the highlight of the evening. In spite of the fact that hip hop is at a lull right now, seeing all that star power on stage reminds us that hip hop has left an indelible signature on the landscape of global culture that will never be erased.

But I want to talk about A Fraud for a minute. Who didn't know that homie was using? Raise your hand, please. The game has been full of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) for years now. No, the usage was not confined to a few bad apples, it was widespread and pervasive. When will people stop acting all innocent about this?

It's like the widespread sexual abuse scandal amongst Catholic priests from a few years back. When a scandal touches that many people, it's clearly not just a few deviants, but instead it is a culture at work within a larger institution. The use of PEDs in baseball is part of a culture that goes back to the 1980s. A Rod, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Raphael Palmario, are some of the best baseball players of the last 20 years, and they've all been implicated. That tells me that the usage had become part of the player's overall fitness routine, not some underground cult where a handful of players indulged anonymously. The fact that baseball only started testing in 2003 says to me that they knew all along what was up.

The thing is, baseball was so eager to bust their most hated member, Barry Bonds, that they exposed people like Clemens and A Rod in the process. If they didn't have such a vendetta against Bonds none of this may have ever come out.

Baseball made a deal with the steroid devil after canceling their season in 1994 and collectively looked the other way as the player's astronomical statistics started bringing attention back to the sport in subsequent seasons. The game was on the rebound, chicks loved the long ball, and they were making money hand over fist, so why interfere with a good thing? Once again, had it not been for the animosity surrounding Bonds and his pursuit of Aaron's record, none of this may have ever reached the light of day. But thanks to the overzealous attempts to bust Bonds and make him the scapegoat, the scrutiny over his activities lead to revelations of a culture that extend far beyond Barry Bonds.

As I've said before, it's clear that baseball had a problem. Not the players alone, but the sport itself. Stop pissing in people's faces and telling them that it's raining. Come on out and say that the sport is dirty and has been for a long time now. Acknowledge this and keep it moving. Anyone caught going forward can be punished accordingly, but let's drop this faux sense of shock every time another player's name get implicated in the scandal.

Of course, I think that the use of PEDs is consistent with the times. Science offers the opportunity for people to grow hair, remove wrinkles, prolong sexual activity, and give birth to octuplets, among other things. Why are we surprised when multi-million dollar athletes who work for billion dollar organizations uses science to enhance their performances? Like Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five said many years ago, "it's all about money/ain't a damn thing funny/you gotta have a con/in this land of milk and honey."

No, it's not cheating, it's the reality of the world we live in where people will do whatever it takes to gain an edge in their appearance or in their performance. That's not cheating, that's America!

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