Baseball's chattering class is well along in working through the meaning, the fallout, the lasting impact, the pain, the betrayal, the possibility of forgiveness that is booming around the sordid business of Alex Rodriguez's now-admitted use of performance enhancing drugs.
The rending of garments -- say it ain't so, A-rod -- has been exceeded by an angry and growing chorus of those eager to shoot the messenger, in this instance, the media for having reminded everyone that there was a time, not too long ago, when brawny cheaters strode across the baseball landscape.
But for every happy reminder that pitchers and catchers are soon to report, there is yet another troubling bulletin. Today is no exception. The Washington Post reported this morning that Houston shortstop Miguel Tejada had been charged with lying to congressional investigators about his use of performance enhancers. Tejada is due in U.S. District Court tomorrow morning and his appearance cannot help but trigger another attempt at attaching blame, seeking an escape, and finding meaning.
Here is the meaning, and complicated it is not: for a long time a group of very talented men decided that because they risked no sanction from the poohbahs who ran their game, and because many of them had always gotten away with a good many things that perhaps they should not have gotten away with -- ah, to be the best ballplayer in school -- they could cheat. And so they did. The dispiriting thing was that many people didn't want to know because these men brought them such delight. That their achievements were the result of skill teamed with anabolic steroids made no difference.
The culture of cheating spread to young people, who in the interest of "getting bigger" dabbled where they should not have, and in several tragic instances paid with their lives.
Baseball has worked to amend its ways, to toughen its stand against the cheaters. Home run numbers have dropped, accordingly.
Yet the past -- and what game has done more to celebrate the sepia-tinged images of its past than baseball? -- sticks to the sport like gum at the bottom of a shoe. Unaddressed and unattended, it haunts.
A full accounting, a baseball equivalent of a truth and reconciliation commission, sounds like a holy mess. And yet, what to do with A-Rod, and perhaps Tejada, and the other 103 names that appeared on the list that ensnared Rodriguez and which was somehow never destroyed?
The names will come out. Count on it. The news will not go away, no matter how strident the calls to the talk-sports radio stations beseeching the newshounds to return to the press box.
The press will not stop until the story goes away, until, in the parlance of the trade, it loses its legs. For the moment, it endures like those horrific stories that emerge periodically from the child welfare system -- a child wrongfully returned to a homicidal parent. The agencies clam up and the press parks outside outside the courthouse door, seeking every leak it can because that is the job, to find out.
And yet, once the truth emerges -- those same agencies, having gained wisdom, now reveal all and quickly -- the press will turn elsewhere.
The baseball blogosphere today is dotted with such items as projections that the Cubbies will win 96 games this season, that the Mets' John Maine can throw without pain, and the ongoing question about who will sign Manny Ramirez.
Good stories all.
But at 11 o'clock tomorrow morning Miguel Tejada will come to court.
The story will not end there.
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