A-Rod, Questionable Decisions and What Ifs
13 August 2010
A-Rod recently hit his 600th homerun, and this got me thinking about questionable decisions and what ifs.
You’ll see, I was a 17-year-old kid playing amateur ball in Mexico when I was made an offer to play professional baseball in the Mexican League (it is roughly equivalent in level to AAA). I turned the offer down, at the time, baseball didn’t pay so well down South and I had been accepted into one of the best universities in Mexico. I was a masher who was known mostly for his bat, but also as a good defensive first baseman with not much of an arm. I could hit, that was for sure, and I had a good baseball mind. Mental toughness is key to success in the game. Back then I didn’t possess the V-taper beach-body that I do today. I was taller than average, but also thick around the waist and with legs that shook like jell-o.
Turning down the offer to play pro ball seemed like the right thing to do after witnessing a teammate’s falling from grace during my freshman year. This guy, a pitcher, had shut out the Cuban National team during the Pan-American games in 1994. He left College to go play pro ball; two months into his rookie season with the Mexico City Red Devils (the same team I rejected) he suffered a rotator cuff injury from which he never fully recovered. Additionally, he was not admitted back into the school because his departure had broken some of their rules.
That freshman year came and went; we won the National Collegiate Championship (the school’s third in a row). I had a decent freshman year playing mostly in the DH spot because I was still a good hitter. Then the unthinkable happened during the end of my freshman/beginning of my sophomore year. I realized that girls weren’t that into me because I was fat and decided to do something about it. I went from a chunky 220 pounds to a sinewy 160 from March to September. That was our off-season. What was left of me was a kid who had developed a passion for push-ups, sit-ups and running; but had seemingly lost his power to all fields.
I started working out with some of the guys on the team, they seemed nice enough, but they were also so muscular and focused that it made me feel intimidated. How could I match that level of muscular development and focus? After all, I was just 19, and was still trying to get used to the thin me. I asked them if they had any suggestions, and they did. They named a laundry list of “supplements” that ended in –bol. I wasn’t very well versed in the culture of iron pumping or sports supplementation, but something told me Dianabol was not something that I should be taking. So I walked away from that scene, and I had a hard time catching up. My sophomore season was terrible, I was getting a lot of infield singles and some line drives, but the long fly balls were gone. I tried to beef up the natural way, but the best I could manage by the time my junior year came around was to tip the scales at 175. By that point my mechanics had caught up and I was doing better. I was coming to terms with the fact that I was a different kind of player than when I was a fat 17 year old.
I learned to play second base and center field. I learned to bunt for base hits and hit behind the runner. I was hitting second in the line-up instead of fourth or fifth like I had been used to. When my senior year came along, I was a solid 180-pound denim-model looking second baseman with a high batting average, and that’s it. When the time came to make a decision to leave the team and focus on finishing my engineering degree, the choice was easy. I walked away and finished up my projects in order to graduate. But as I walked away I felt as though I could have accomplished more if maybe I had taken just a little bit of Dianabol or one of those things that were recommended to me by other users.
Could I have bulked up a lot more and hit home runs again? Could I have become an even better player than I could have imagined? Would it have made a big difference?
The answer will always be yes; it would have made a difference. I would have bulked up a lot more. It remains to be seen whether I would have hit the home runs again, or if I would have become an even better player. But I am going out on a limb and saying I would have had an edge over the competition. I would have certainly had an edge over my natural self.
Why didn’t I do it? Because it seemed wrong. It seemed unfair to those that were not taking anything, and it would have seemed unfair to tell myself that those were my true accomplishments when they were artificially obtained.
And this is where I get royally pissed off. That the American sports culture has become so perverted and devalued that we are celebrating a guy who tested positive for Performance Enhancing Drugs, never truly apologized for the fact, and has an ego the size of the world by telling himself he is the greatest hitter ever. This is a sad moment for society where we recognize the guy who got away with it. It sickens me how people go out of their way to talk about A-Rod joining a club that prior to the steroid-era only had three members. Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays, no PED suspicion with any of those guys.
Why, then, have we gone from celebrating true accomplishments of human spirit and dedication to celebrating fraud, conceit, and arrogance? That is the true burning question and one I am afraid will never be answered, or perhaps it already has…
In any event, I am tempted to make the following statement:
If I had taken steroids, or any other performance enhancing drugs, I might have made it to the Major Leagues and been a success; after all, I had the talent. I just needed the edge.