Sunday, February 8, 2009

Real Bad People

Today, Harvey Araton, in the venerable New York Times, writes,

"Nine more years. Nine long, bold-headlined years. That is how much longer the Yankees are contractually obligated to put up with always-something Alex Rodriguez. With his celebrity distractions, his need to be noticed, his clubhouse-integration issues, his Derek Jeter envy and, yes, his prime-time failures.... As much as anyone, he is a product of a decade in which the sport took a pharmaceutical path that, for too many reputations, has become the road to ruin." (h/t to Shysterball)

Another article in the Old Gray Lady, this one by Tyler Kepner, quotes an anonymous Yankee official, saying “'His legacy, now, is gone.... He’ll just play it out. Now he’s a worker. Do your job, collect your paycheck and when you’re finished playing, go away. That’s what it is.'”

The Palm Beach Post writes about father and A-Rod superfan Jose Mercado, who
"found himself driving to Dolphin Stadium struggling to explain to his two sons what they'd just heard on the radio - A-Rod allegedly used steroids. 'You see the look on their faces and it's disappointment,' Mercado said. 'I thought A-Rod was one of the good guys, one of the guys who never took anything. If the allegations are true, certainly it's heartbreaking.'"

Settle down, America. The Common Man understands that the news is somewhat shocking and that A-Rod is no one's idea of a good guy this morning. If these allegations are true, A-Rod is a cheater and a liar, like many other cheaters and liars before him (John McGraw, Ty Cobb, Whitey Ford, Gaylord Perry, Barry Bonds, and Rafael Palmeiro to name a few). But, please, keep some perspective. As a public service, The Common Man offers five people in the news today who are much more deserving of your revulsion and your attention than A-Rod.

5) Rush Limbaugh--The Common Man doesn't mind conservatives. He disagrees with them most of the time, but recognizes their inherent goodness, their desire to see America strong, and how respectful they are of opposing viewpoints. Rush Limbaugh is none of these things. He has consistently and willfully put his own interests ahead of the country, culminating in his recent announcement that he hopes Barack Obama fails to get the country out of its current economic crisis and its wars in the Middle East. He's made fun of Michael J. Fox for the side-effects of his Parkinson's Disease. He's suggested that black quarterbacks have an easier time than white quarterbacks because liberals in sports (what???) want black quarterbacks to succeed. He called soldiers who disagree with the Iraq War "phony soldiers." He's on record saying that feminism was invented "to allow unattractive women access to the mainstream." And that's not even mentioning his addiction to prescription painkillers, something that links him more closely to Alex Rodriguez than the famous fat man would probably like to admit.

And this man, according to today's Los Angeles Times, is again becoming the face and voice of the Republican Party, "While the GOP's star has fallen, Limbaugh's has soared. As party leaders struggle to find their voice, Limbaugh's baritone booms loud and clear three hours a day, five days a week on 600 radio stations across America. If a $400-million contract and the title of most influential talk radio personality -- as voted by industry pros -- aren't sufficient proof, consider President Obama's decision to pick a fight with him three days into his presidency." While Obama's decision to take on Limbaugh was a brilliant ploy to make the conservative more relevant and a larger face in the party (where he'll presumably turn off independents and moderates), the response from Rep. Phil Gingrey is more telling of Limbaugh's influence. When he had the temerity to suggest “It’s easy if you’re Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or even sometimes Newt Gingrich to stand back and throw bricks. You don’t have to try to do what’s best for your people and your party. You know you’re just on these talk shows and you’re living well and plus you stir up a bit of controversy and gin the base and that sort of that thing," he was forced to apologize all over the airwaves by angry conservatives who flooded his phone and in-box.

4) Whoever makes the decisions at Peanut Corporation of America--You'd think it would be difficult to screw up peanuts. After all, they come with their own protective coating. Yet, Peanut Corp. has done so royally. The salmonella outbreak linked back to the Georgia Company has made more than 500 people sick, and killed eight. But according to an FDA report obtained by CNN, "In some situations the firm received a positive salmonella test result, followed by a later negative result, and then shipped the products. In some other situations, the firm shipped the products [which had already tested positive] before it had received the [second] positive test results." Oops. To paraphrase a classic Kids In the Hall sketch, "Sorry we caused all that salmonella."

3) Anonymous Somali recruiter in the Twin Cities--According to several media reports, the most recent in today's Minneapolis Star Tribune, young Somali men are disappearing around the Twin Cities Metro Area. They are returning, it seems, to Somalia, recruited to fight in the ongoing civil war for local Muslim militias. According to the Minneapolis paper, "The FBI, which is investigating an alleged link between some in the Twin Cities and violence in Somalia, won't comment on how many Somali teenagers or young men have left to fight or possibly receive terrorist training. But several sources within the community say they believe Mustafa is one of seven to nine Somalis who have gone back since August." At least one of these men has been used as a suicide bomber. Many of the young men reportedly have had "religious awakenings" and have been heavily involved in Minneapolis mosques. The brother of one boy told the paper, "I'm 100 percent sure that there are people in there who have influenced him and those people are claiming to be sheiks." So, it would seem that someone in Minnesota, closely affiliated with radical-Islamic militias in Somalia, is recruiting Somali teens, providing them with passports, and sending them back to Mogadishu to fight and die. It's insidious and frightening.

2) Gene Orza--Normally, The Common Man would include SI scribe Jon Heyman in the list of people worse than A-Rod (since he proudly voted for Jim Rice, Jack Morris, and Andre Dawson, and proudly didn't vote for Tim Raines and Bert Blyleven), but today, The Common Man reserves his scorn for the subject of Heyman's article. Orza, the other big player in yesterday's news, was guilty of tipping players off ahead of time that they would be tested. And according to Heyman, Orza is also ultimately responsible for the leaked results, as he stubbornly refused to destroy the list of positive test results. Heyman reports:

"That list would have been long gone if not for the union, several baseball people say. Players union COO Gene Orza worked long and hard to try to pare down the list. Orza's mission, according to baseball people, was to find enough false positives on the list to drive the number of failures so far down that real testing wouldn't be needed in 2004 or ever.

Orza wanted to get the list down below the five percent threshold for testing to go away entirely. But try as he might, he could not drive it down quite that far. After months of trying, Orza couldn't do it, and baseball announced that a curiously amorphous 5-7 percent of players failed the 2003 survey test, enough to ramp up the testing in 2004, much to the union's dismay.

According to multiple baseball sources, Orza spent way too much time studying the results in hopes of lowering the number. And while Orza was playing with the paperwork, BALCO struck, foiling his grand scheme."

If this is true, Orza is guilty of a number of offenses. Most importantly, he purposely and willfully attempted to hide evidence of baseball's steroid problem. And in doing so, he ultimately caused the scandal that broke yesterday. Good for you, Gene. Hope your resume is up to date.

1) Bishop Richard Williamson--How bad was Orza's mistake? To top him, you have to be a Holocaust denier. Williamson was initially excommunicated from the Catholic church by Pope John Paul II in 1988. And given how awesome and cute JPII was, you know that Williamson was a bad egg. A member of an ultra-conservative wing of the church, Williamson was reconciled with the church by Pope Benedict a month ago. Yet, just a month before, Williamson told Swedish television, "I believe that the historical evidence is strongly against -- is hugely against -- 6 million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler. I believe there were no gas chambers." While the Pope has ordered Williamson to distance himself from the comments, he has refused. German bishops have banded together to call for Williamson's re-excommunication. According to Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, the chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, "Mr. Williamson is impossible and irresponsible. I now see no room for him in the Catholic church."

Apparently, the Pope's vetting process is not as stringent as the process to become undersecretary of labor here in the U.S. Still, while The Common Man wants to fault the Holy Father, and urges him to be swift and decisive in his condemnation of Williamson, the ultimate fault here lies with Williamson. A despicable man with despicable beliefs who cannot effectively preach a message of love, peace, and tolerance while holding such extreme, wrong-headed, and inflammatory views.

So, America...priorities. Vent your spleen in some other direction, if you don't mind. Because when you all get outraged and angry and come around The Common Man's neighborhood hyperbolizing and saying things that don't make sense, it makes him cranky. Focus, people!


BikeMonkey said...

yeah, so this A-rod thing.....

Ron Rollins said...

I'm not sure how he can be considered a cheater AND a liar.

What he did wasn't cheating. There were no rules against it at the time. It might not have been the most professional of things, but juicing the ball and corking a bat are against the rules, and those guys get a suspension and a pass.

ANd if he hadn't been crucified in the press and blogosphere (along wiht McGwire, Bonds, Clemens and all the others) maybe he wouldn't have lied about something that was completely legal at the time.

For the record, I'm against steroids, don't like any of those players except McGwire, and think the whole thing needs to just go away.

BillP said...

"To put it bluntly, the advantage Rodriguez earned from primobolan was in sexiness, not in strength. I can’t wait to hear someone claim that sexiness leads to additional home runs."

The Common Man said...

@ Ron

Actually, steroids and other PEDs have been expressly banned by the league since 1991 without a valid physician's prescription. There were no penalties for taking them and no testing procedures until 2004. So, it was against league rules to take them, and A-Rod cheated. The Common Man isn't saying A-Rod's a terrible person, in fact he's sure that many of those pillorying A-Rod this weekend would have made the exact same choices given the talent and the opportunity.

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