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Monday, December 06, 2004

A Tainted Legacy

Barry, you have really done it this time.
Now, voters for the HOF may feel they have to keep you from being first-ballot shoe-in just to register their disgust over your apparently tainted records, and that is a shame.
Everywhere you go next year, you'll see and hear clever and not-so-clever jeers and jibes, probably as many about your apparently disingenuous testimony ("implausible deniability," as one wag has put it) to a grand jury as about your 73 home runs, many of which might well have been less prodigious or even long flyouts without the cream and the clear, and that's they way it is for fallen stars in the 2004 US of A.
You may well have "legitimized" (at least from a performance standpoint) the use of steroids by athletes much younger (read: high schoolers) and more vulnerable to their side-effects, who will be out to replicate your status at their level, and your stonewalling in the face of circumstantial evidence also serves as a very bad example to them, and that is irresponsible.
The entire affair, and it is clearly not over, reinforces the belief in many quarters that athletes are not accountable to the same laws and responsible for their behavior as ordinary people, and that impression is not easily reversed (and to some extent anyway accurate).
And, to be miserably parochial about this, this entire affair comes at a time when the Red Sox may have restored faith in the game by ending an historically long absence from the role as champions of the World Series, and that mostly just pisses me off.
In lots of ways, this coincidence of high and low around baseball mirrors what's happening everywhere else. The cynicism grows around even the best stories and events and best human behavior to the point where fewer and fewer people have confidence that what they see is real, is true. The hero has a dark side, a mistake-ridden past, in almost every instance, as we all do, and, while this is the reality, we need, more and more, for it not to be, for the good man to be good through and through, for the athlete who seems humble not to beat his wife, for the politician who acts nobly not to be an inveterate gambler, for the winners not to be venal about their victory.
In the bigger picture, your actions and your behavior are reinforcing the view that everything people might care about is fraudulent, and that is your legacy, too.
What is most stupid is that you were, as John has said, a great player, one who did not need any artificial help, and the fact that this was not good enough for you says much about you, and that is just a shame.