Even if you believe in redemption and forgiveness, it’s awfully difficult to root for three of baseball’s biggest stars, who fell from grace but are attempting comebacks.
Pete Rose, banished from baseball for gambling on games, just got a studio analyst gig with Fox Sports. He’s coming to a TV near you this season, but I’m going to flip the channel when he comes on.
Alex Rodriguez, back from a yearlong suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, is about to pass the great Willie Mays for fourth place on the all-time homer list. The New York Yankees are raising eyebrows because they’re all but ignoring the impending milestone. Good for them. Why would you celebrate an achievement that is so hollow?
And Barry Bonds, the former Giants slugger with the onetime giant head, had his obstruction of justice conviction overturned Wednesday in the steroid scandal. He’ll probably seek a bigger role with the Giants, who welcomed him back in 2014 as a spring training special instructor and invited him to throw out the first pitch during the National League Championship Series last October. But for me, his home run record will always have a big asterisk next to it.
You can just see the momentum as they and their supporters try to rehabilitate their reputations.
I’m sorry, but none of them deserve our sympathy – and they certainly shouldn’t get anywhere near the Hall of Fame. Now, if there were a Hall of Shame, I’d vote them in as the first three inductees.
They all got rich, made their horrible choices and sullied the national pastime even for diehard fans. Now, you can’t escape that nagging doubt whenever a player has a career year, or an older player appears to be cheating Mother Nature. That suspicion ruins the enjoyment of the game.
Major League Baseball is trying to bring back fans by speeding up play. But there’s no washing away the stain of what Rose, Rodriguez and Bonds did.
If they had just played by the rules and been satisfied with their immense God-given skills, they would have gone down in baseball history as among the best ever. Instead, they will always be linked to some of baseball’s darkest days.
For professional athletes who need acclaim like oxygen, that blot on their legacies is the best punishment.