"Let Them Shoot Up: In Defense of Alex Rodriguez" - Nick Gillespie in Daily Beast

My latest column for The Daily Beast is less a defense of A-Roid Rodriguez, the Yankees baseball star facing a lifetime suspension for repeatedly violating MLB's drug-policy rules, and more an indictment of the infantile ways in which we discuss professional sports. Here's a snippet:

We hate it when we’re reminded that sports are not separate from “real life”—they are laboratories that magnify all the contradictions and iniquities of real life. That’s why it made perfect, perverse sense that baseball would be segregated—as the national pastime, it wasn’t exempt from the social, cultural, and political forces at work in America. It was the unadorned expression of them, in all their ugliness, right there in the harsh glare of the fading afternoon sun out at the ballpark. Big-time sports fully incarnate the crony capitalism eating away at the American Dream (virtually all stadiums are directly built or financed through taxpayer dollars), and the preferential legal treatment of celebrity athletes is legendary. High school and college athletes get a pass not because they’re good students but because they’re good at something physical. And on and on.

Read the whole thing here.

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  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Possibly the first article I've read about Rodriguez in which Rodriguez doesn't come off as the biggest douche connected with the article.

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  • ||

    So if her hourly is higher and she still made less last month than macgorman15's fuck-buddy, are you guys skimming the profits from her?

  • ΘJΘʃ de águila||

    ShiT, the spammers are spamming the spammers!

  • Knarf Yenrab (prev. An0nB0t)||

    The decline of World of Warcraft hit the Chinese gold farming industry hardest of all. They've got to feed the monkey somehow, man.

  • Anders||

    They should let them all get roided up.

    And Lance Armstrong should get his Tour De France titles back. That was the most ridiculously hypocritical show trial in modern sports.

  • John||

    When the entire sport is doping, your doping is not cheating.

  • ||

    It's true they were all doping but Lance Armstrong was always a huge douchebag and he tried to destroy anybody who accused him of doping. No sympathy.

  • Anders||

    Well Armstrong was a monstrous douchebag yes, but it has been well known for decades that almost everyone in the sport dopes up.

    Sometimes it takes a decade to prove but it frequently comes out.

    Armstrong was unique in the sense that he won so many times and was so universally feared and despised for his uber-douchery.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Just wait until all of our athletes are replaced by cyborgs, and then full-on robots.

  • KDN||

    With the vapors people get over minor doping, do you really think that'll ever happen? They'll be separate sports and the participants considered lesser or non-athletes.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    You fool. You'll never know it's happening. UNTIL IT'S TOO LATE.

  • KDN||

    I've been on gaming forums where the possibility is set up as utter salvation. "Just wait, in a decade cyborgs will be everywhere and nobody will care about sports. Then professional gaming will take off and Starcraft players here will be finally be rolling in piles of cocaine and women!"

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    lol wut

  • John||

    ARod and by proxie the union agreed to a cba that banned steroids. So a rod broke rules his own union agreed to. Even if you think roids are good, hard to have much sypathy for a rod.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Contracts are only important when they lead to a result you like.

  • Jam||

    The fans want to see Clemens pitch to Bonds. Lance cycle up the Alps. Sosa vs McGwire. and then they want to persecute them. collectivism on the way up AND down.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Collectivism? What?

    You know the consistency here lies in the fact that people root for these folks when they are displaying natural abilities and tear them down when they aren't...

    Hm. Sounds consistent to me.

  • Inigo M.||

    Displaying natural abilities? It's not like PEDs make up for a lack of natural abilities. Professional athletes, chemically enhanced or not, are genetic outliers who have also trained harder than anyone else. Otherwise, any average joe could just take some drugs and play in the big leagues, but it just doesn't work that way. PEDs are powerful, but they are not magical. If you can't throw or hit worth shit, you probably couldn't keep up with the local little league, regardless of how many drugs you take.

  • ΘJΘʃ de águila||

    True, Barry Bonds always pointed out that he had to make contact with the ball, which he did very well. [warning track fly-ball outs or doubles to home runs notwithstanding]

  • John||

    A rod is screwed. His contract will prevent the Yankees from spending in free agency and being competitive. MLB does want that because the Yankees sell tickets and since the Mets are hopeless the Yankees have to competitive or the New York market is out of play. The union doesn't want that because the Yankees spending in free agency drives up everyone's salary. A rod doesn't have a friend in the world outside of nick.

  • Restoras||

    Fuck the Yankees and NYC.

  • John||

    The union and baseball disagree.

  • ||

    Yeah but they want us to hate them too. That's part of the Yankee's appeal.

  • KDN||

    The Yankees are feverishly pursuing getting under the tax threshold for next year because it basically increases their budget by $30m for each of the next five. A-Rod being injured for the entirety of this season nets them a nice check in insurance money (hence why they're stalling so much in activating him even though he's worlds better than whatever inanimate carbon rod is currently playing third) and him getting suspended for all of next year will allow them to clear that salary off their books and field a competitive team at the same time.

    If you're a Yankee hater, you are rooting hard for A-Rod to come out of this unscathed. Oh, the irony.

  • John||

    Yup. If ARod collects that whole contract the Yankees won't be a contender until at least 2018 when it comes off the books. And both MLB and the union have an interest in that not happening. A free agent market without the Yankees setting the market is not something the union wants.

  • Knarf Yenrab (prev. An0nB0t)||

    The union doesn't want that because the Yankees spending in free agency drives up everyone's salary.

    Standing by while MLB unilaterally voids a player's $100+ million contract is decidedly not in the MLBPA's best interests. An uncontested lifetime ban or any ban in excess of the 50-day first-offense ban spelled out in the latest labor agreement would be a disaster for the nation's strongest union.

    The power play looks to me to be Seligulan in nature (what better way for the world's most successful used car dealer to go out than by flexing his executive muscle against one of the best players in the history of the game?), but if Rodriguez gets a lifetime ban and if the union doesn't go to war in that eventuality, I'll be convinced that the feds were involved.

  • Stilgar||

    I don't often disagree with the leather jacket man but do here.

    Even if they are not the difference between being a shlub off the street and an elite athlete.

    Really? So why are any athletes taking PED's? Why even use the name PED?

    I wonder - what is the difference in pay for a baseball player who hits 300 vs 285? Hits 30 homers vs 22? Steals 40 bases vs 25? What is the difference in bat speed, strength and explosiveness needed to keep up with a 95mph fastball, have a flyball land 5 feet past the warning track or beat the tag - and will PEDs get you there? Do I even need to say yes?

    Nick skirts the fact that the players have agreed (at least in football and baseball) to extensive testing for PEDs. Read some of the quotes concerning the current 'scandal'. The majority of players do not want to have to shoot up with drugs that carry potential long term health consequences just to maintain their place vis a vis those who do. They feel the high salaries will still be there for the top performers in a clean league.

    What is next Nick, office workers having to take adderall to keep their jobs?

  • John||

    PED turn average players like Melky Cabrara into all stars, good players like Sosa and Mcguier into great players and great players like Bonds and Clemmens into unreal ones.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    I think Clemens was unreal before PEDs, they just allowed him to be unreal longer.

  • wareagle||

    and they turned Bonds from a safety into a tight end, with the resulting increase in power. He went from a high average, 30-40 homer guy to a player no one wanted to pitch to. At least McGwire had a history of dingers before ballooning.

  • KDN||

    30-40 homers in Candlestick is no history of dingers? Are you daft?

    From '87 - '95 McGwire had an ISOP of 272. Bonds's was 260. They were equally powerful before 'roids.

  • wareagle||

    Bonds was a future HOFer while in Pittsburgh and he was a high average guy who could hit homers if you made a mistake, but it was part of his game, not the sum of it.

    Mac hit 49 as a beanpole rookie and missed a lot of time in the years cited due to injury. Bonds was in the lineup every day.

    Daft? No, just informed. Sports is not the argument you want to have with me.

  • KDN||

    Wasn't part of his game? Dude finished in the top 10 in home runs three times in Pitt and was a HR champ at 28. That's like saying Mays or DiMaggio weren't home run hitters just because they did other things equally well. It's dumb.

    McGwire played plenty of baseball during those years. ISOP is a rate stat, the two season's of injuries don't really matter (especially since he was on fire in one of them). The real downer is how terrible he was in '91.

  • wareagle||

    how do two seasons of injury not matter along with a third when Mac hit 39 in barely 100 games? And that was before any mention of outside substances. His game was based on power; Bonds' on having all five tools.

    The trade out west coincided with Bonds blowing up into nothing but a homer hitter. It was when he went from 30-some, maybe, to consistently topping 30 nad 40.

  • KDN||

    Ok, so you don't understand how rate stats (or stats in general) work. Good to know.

    Fun fact: one of the five tools is power and Bonds had it in spades. Bonds's move to SF occurred after his doubles power matured into HR power (he had a 39 homer pace his last year in Pit), as it tends to since players like him naturally get stronger when they move into their mid-20's. He was always a power hitter, the HR potential was always there. He didn't change they way he played, he got stronger.

  • John||

    McGuire was always on roids. He did nothing well but hit home runs. Without roids he was DVe Kingman. I hate McGuire because unlike bonds who was already great, McGuire stole greatness with roids

  • Knarf Yenrab (prev. An0nB0t)||

    McGwire had one of the best eyes in baseball and drew walks at an enormous pace his entire career. Kingman was little more than a hacker who hit HRs with some frequency. There is no comparison between these players.

  • John||

    True. They give pitchers longevity more than anything. Bonds was a fun science experiment. If you ever wonder what the real greats of the past like Ruth and Williams and DiMaggio would have done on roids, Bonds 2000 to 2003 run gives you a pretty good clue. He was a top 30 all time player before he started using.

  • KDN||

    The best science experiment of all: identical twins Ozzie and Jose Canseco.

  • John||

    Another good one is Rapheal palmaro and will Clark. Both were nearly identical prospects and players until they both hit theirmid 30s and Clark fell out of baseball and palmaro had his best years. Roids give li giving. Before steroids all but a very few players were done by 36.

  • wareagle||

    fun fact: Clark and Palmeiro were college teammates. At Miss St. Clark was a future, can't miss prospect at first, and Palmeiro was a third baseman ( I think ) and a guy only afficionados and scouts really watched.

    It's not that he was bad, but that Clark was seen as that good. Unlike the others, Palmeiro never showed the physical changes from using.

  • John||

    Clark was known as the natural. Had a fine career he just got old in his 30s.

  • KDN||

    Palmiero was a left handed third baseman? That must have been fun to watch.

    The only player to ever win a gold glove as a DH. I fucking hate that guy.

  • wareagle||

    he wasn't a first baseman, becuase Clark had that spot nailed down. It's why 'I think' was included; maybe it was the outfield but it wasn't first.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    He's batshit crazy when it comes to sports. I mean condescending, dismissive, batshit crazy about the whole concept.

    The stereotypical guess would be that he wasn't any good at them or was mistreated by those who were or both.

  • ||

    What is next Nick, office workers having to take adderall to keep their jobs?

    Adderall should be legal to buy off the shelf. If some employer required their workers be on adderall as a condition of employment that should be legal too.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    And if Adderall were prohibited by an employment agreement but people used anyway and got bigger raises...

  • ||

    Yep but and people can complain about Nick's opinion all they want but this isn't a libertarian issue at all. It doesn't make him a prog or a cosmo, it is just a matter of personal opinion on how a private organization should run its sport. I think people who broke the rules are cheaters and have no sympathy for them and I also think the rules should be changed.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    I'm not saying it makes him a prog or a cosmo, it's just more evidence that he doesn't get sports and appears not even to like them. Which is fine, but so is commenting on it.

  • ||

    Prog was more a reference to John below. I'm mean wtf is that?

  • wareagle||

    not hard to see Nick is no jock. Of course, PEDs won't make a journeyman into a hall of famer, but they do turn warning track power into something more, they give a guy enough pop to muscle a few bloopers over an infielder's head, and HGH is great for enhancing recovery time from injury.

    Player after player in multiple sports is coming out against them, not out of some statist philosophy, but out of the belief that their profession is being tainted by guys who break rules THEIR OWN UNION AGREED TO.

  • Drake||

    This article was like reading a computer equipment review by Alex Rodriguez or a political article in PC Magazine. Stick to what you know Nick.

    My only problem with this thing is that Rodriguez has yet to test positive. If the union and MLB are going to set up the rules, they ought to play by them.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    What was 2003, chopped liver?

  • Drake||

    That isn't what he's about to be suspended for.

  • John||

    Posts like this make me think Nick is really a prog. The fact is baseball fans like their baseball without PEDs. All MLB and the union are doing here is reacting to the demands of their customers. If they allowed PEDs a lot of fans would tune out. This policy is the market at work. And nick doesn't like the result so he turns it into some kind of bullshit liberty issue. It is not. The fans of baseball have every right to prefer the game be played without PEDs and MLB has every right to give its customers what they want. Nick is just letting his prog show here by demanding the market fit his preferences.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    I doubt Nick said, "there oughtter be a law", so you're wrong.

    I disagree with Nick on this, but I don't see how a customer saying the market should change is "progressive".

  • John||

    It is his making it into a liberty issue rather than a personal preference that I object too

  • KDN||

    I agree with the assessment. I'd prefer it if steroids / hgh / etc be permitted in a controlled and transparent manner, but most fans, luddites they are, don't want them anywhere near the sport.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Lance Armstrong was always a huge douchebag

    Boo fucking hoo. "Lance Armstrong is a big bully!"

    Newsflash: Monomaniacal obsessions are generally characterized by a complete lack of giving a shit about what anybody else thinks or wants or needs.

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    pro-sports is the opiate of the masses.

  • Acosmist||

    Let baseball make up its own rules, you fascist. How about that?

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  • umh||

    1) Major league baseball allows steroids.
    2) Major league baseball is sued for encouraging steroids.

  • Jake345||

    Nick G's title: In-House Intellectual Dilettante

  • JohnD||

    Interviews like this are the reason that Libertarians are not taken seriously.

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    The more attention we get, the more seriously we'll be taken. Even if that means having cosmos offer ex-anal commentary re: internal MLB politics.

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