February 22, 2008
Apologies are too little, too late for baseball's fansCan a true baseball fan ever forgive players who have used steroids? What does it mean when a player confesses and apologizes, rather than denying and blaming others? Either way, the cheating has already occurred.
Since the Mitchell Report was released, there have been a variety of responses from the Major League players named in the report. Superstar Roger Clemens, for example, still claims no fault in his alleged use of steroids.
Miguel Tejada refuses to discuss the matter. He seems to expect that it will be easy to win over fans as he starts the season with a new team, the Houston Astros. Tejada said that he's "not worried about anything" and only wants to focus on "playing to win every day." Perhaps that's why players like him are so tempted to cheat.
For Orioles fans, it's truly heartbreaking to learn that Brian Roberts and Jay Gibbons, guys who were rookies in Cal Ripken's last season, have also used steroids. Both issued apologies this week.
Gibbons, admitting that being caught is embarrassing and disappointing, also said confessing is a weight off his shoulders. He said he's paying for it by sitting out for 15 games, which hardly seems like punishment when a guy might spend twice as long on the bench for a sprained ankle.
Roberts is embarrassed by having his mistake made public and wants to move on. He says he's offered his sincere apology and in the end only has to answer to God. Maybe he'll have another disastrous season or be traded to anther team.
And then there's Andy Pettite, who has being praised as a role model for the correct way to apologize. In his heartfelt apology, he said desperation and stupidity are his excuses for why he did it.
Fans should keep in mind, though, that such an apology would not have happened except that the release of the Mitchell report presented the opportunity.
It will be interesting to see what happens to the players, the trainers and the government's continued involvement in MLB.
Obviously, the sport needs to move on. Many of the big names under suspicion, such as Mark McGuire, Rafael Palmeiro, Barry Bonds and now Roger Clemens, have retired or will be retiring in the near future. The question is whether or not the young players arrive at the big leagues ready to save baseball's reputation, or already poisoning it with prior usage of steroids.
"America's pastime" is more than statistics and fancy ballparks. The integrity and heroic status of its players ought to be maintained. This past summer, two of the greatest were inducted in to the Hall of Fame. Do cheaters really belong there too?
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