Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A-Rod's gilded excuse

Trying to put his own corrupt role in the snowballing steroid scandal behind him, New York Yankees star third baseman Alex Rodriguez announced he had been, "young and stupid" in 2003, when he now admits he was receiving injections of some sort of performance enhancing drug.

During his 2003 season as a Texas Ranger, Rodriguez was performing in the third year of 10-year contract that was reportedly the most lucrative in sports history: $25.2 million per season. In what was his last season with Texas, Rodriguez led the American League in home runs and was named as the league's Most Valuable Player; he turned 28 in the middle of that shiny season.

Young and stupid?

Of course "A-Rod" was younger in 2003. Who wasn't? But the man was playing in his 10th Big League season.

However, in fairness to his deception, what made Rodriguez's 2003 juicing for dollars seem vaguely acceptable, at the time, was the corrupt culture surrounding his taking it to the next level -- the dark side.

It was the context.

At the top levels of capitalism's most glittering endeavors, who wasn't cheating? Didn't ads lie, 24 hours a day? Didn't politicians and corporate executives say what their spin doctors told them to say, all the time? Didn't everybody know that breaking rules to fulfill your King Midas dream had become acceptable?

In 2003 raw lust for wealth and notoriety was fueling the clandestine use of steroids in baseball. Owners and corporate sponsors were making mountains of gelt, so averting their eyes was easy as pie. Lots of pie.

Just like in 2003, the truth about weapons of mass destruction didn't matter when launching a war. There was money to be made by war profiteers. In the financial community, the unnatural manipulations of interest rates and loan policies of that time were cheating, too. There was money to be made on Wall Street.

Successfully cheating to get your greedy way was seen as being smarter than the competition in what some called the New Gilded Age. Now, it seems, some of those fool's gold chickens have found their way home. No doubt, more will, eventually.

While A-Rod's young-and-greedy mea culpa has a decidedly phony ring to it, in fairness to him, yes, we were all younger in 2003.

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