Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Manny Ramirez and the sport of lies

By Tom Grant
PhD student, Center for Ethics

Manny Ramirez retired this week rather than face a 100-game suspension following a positive test for a banned substance.  And the taint of steroids continues to plague baseball. It's Manny's second positive test.

The Barry Bonds case continues to look like just the tip of the iceberg. Bonds' remains in the hands of the jury, though that group is deadlocked on all but one count. And the fate of baseball is in the hands of fans.

Will fans find it repulsive that so many players have been caught trying to cheat, using human growth hormone and designer steroids to try to gain a competitive advantage? Or will they quietly accept that baseball stars use the juice to get a little extra power. Some even dare to say that steroids saved baseball. They suggest that the muscle-bound home run hitters gave the sport excitement at a time when it was becoming upstaged in the public mind by football and basketball.

But to others, this writer included, baseball has become a sport of deceit, not much different from bicycling or professional wrestling. And it's not so much about performance enhancing drugs as it is about the lies. Who can trust any power hitter today?

Albert Pujols has been hailed by such top-flight media institutions as 60 Minutes as the new savior of baseball. He hits more than 30 home runs a year and has never failed a drug test. Yet the rumors continue even about Pujols.

The concensus seems to be that baseball players will do whatever it takes to improve their game, then lie about it. The Bonds' trial is about his lies. Ramirez's retirement shows that the steroid era continues. And so does the lying era.

Professional wrestlers were once the used car salesmen of sport. Then bicycling, with stars such as Tour de France winners Floyd Landis and Bjarne Riis admitting doping, became the sport of lies. And now baseball has so deeply mired itself in the liars and cheaters club that we can't trust the heroes of America's pastime.

You can say it ain't so, Joe. But in the back of our mind, we still won't believe you.

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