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Where Have You Gone, Joe DiMaggio?
February 10, 2009
“Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?” Written over 40 years ago, Paul Simon’s words are just as resonating today as ever before. In this era of cheating, drugs, and win-at-all-costs, it doesn’t really come as a shock to hear about Alex Rodriguez’s positive steroid test from 2003. Shock? No. Surprise? Yes.
ARod was hardly the model American hero, but as the baseball-loving public watched each superstar fall from grace one by one (McGwire, Sosa, Bonds, Clemens, etc.), we were willing to hitch our wagon to the blandly consistent numbers of ARod in the hopes that he would break every record possible, returning the game to the clean players.
Fans aren’t looking for the next Mother Teresa. Adultery? Binge drinking? Cocaine habit? Fine, it can be forgiven as long as the game isn’t disrespected. It helps to be a good citizen, but nobody watched Michael Jordan win a championship because they thought he was a better husband than everyone else. No one is in awe of Tom Brady because of his excellent parenting skills. Sports players are role models because we think they are the best in their craft thanks to a combination of talent and hard work, off-the-field stuff be damned. When that combination becomes fraudulent, role model status drops by the wayside and we stop caring.
Those who publicly released the so-called “anonymous” steroid tests from 2003 are as bad or worse than the players and will need to be called to justice, but it still boils down to ending the cheating. Cheat the game and the game ultimately suffers. Yes, the business of baseball may still thrive, but the connection between fans and the game will deteriorate until we can be assured that success on the field is earned. In the meantime, we wait for the answer: “our nation turns its lonely eyes to”...?