Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE
I heard about the suspension, thought to myself, Oh that sucks, and couldn't find it in myself to be much more upset beyond that.
Let me just say that having a ballplayer in the family makes me somewhat keenly aware of who really gets hurt when people use performance enhancing drugs. Like, it's no skin off my back watching somebody all huge crushing sh_t. I actually like professional wrestling. The primary distraction I have in watching the Tour De France isn't what sorts of dope are running through the veins of every... single... cyclist... but rather curiosity as to how those little bike seats must feel on the respective junks of each rider and whether a vasectomy would make that more or less uncomfortable.
But being related to a ballplayer, it does bother me that some people are resorting to things to get ahead that aren't allowed. And it's those clean "4 A" types of guys that I feel for the most. They're the ones that get the scouting reports like, "weak arm" or "warning track power". Reports that essentially say, "Take steroids for a while" and then they make the decision not to because it's the right thing to do for them and their family.
But I've got to a point where I find it really hard to care. And this is a change from how I used to feel.
When everybody was getting caught for what they were doing in the 90's, I was like, "F_ck those guys", and I realize now that what really pissed me off wasn't necessarily that they juiced, but that they had the audacity to say stuff like, "Sure, but it probably didn't help" or "Actually, I didn't juice" or "I don't speak English". Basically, Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Clemens, Giambi, everybody else acted like little bitches about the whole thing.
And this is obviously in direct contradiction to how Ken Caminiti handled things in 2002. To me, Caminiti made the perfect case for why PEDs aren't such a black and white issue. I know lots of people out there see it as black and white, but I'm not one of them.
For example... consider what Cammy said back in 2002.
"It's no secret what's going on in baseball. At least half the guys are using steroids. They talk about it. They joke about it with each other. The guys who want to protect themselves or their image by lying have that right. Me? I'm at the point in my career where I've done just about every bad thing you can do. I try to walk with my head up. I don't have to hold my tongue. I don't want to hurt teammates or friends. But I've got nothing to hide.
"If a young player were to ask me what to do," Caminiti continued, "I'm not going to tell him it's bad. Look at all the money in the game: You have a chance to set your family up, to get your daughter into a better school.... So I can't say, 'Don't do it,' not when the guy next to you is as big as a house and he's going to take your job and make the money."
And I think that's where it gets really hazy to me, is when you consider family and the fact that for a lot of these guys, this is their one best shot at setting themselves and their families up for a while and most of these guys aren't superstars, but are approaching it with the mindset of, I have one shot at this. I need to take care of myself and my family. I need to justify why I'm worth millions of dollars. If I don't do this, my baseball career could literally be over tomorrow.
Obviously, there are the guys who are assholes and are doing PEDs and it's well within their thinking that they're stepping on people on their way to the top. Like, they knowingly and happily want to hold people back and I think this is what pisses me off about the Roger Clemens types of (alleged) cheaters. What... like Roger Clemens didn't have a perfectly fine career already? He had to go back in for more? He had to set back the younger guys so he could do what exactly... Buy another house? And then he had to be a bitch about it. Those are the guys I despise.
But more and more guys get caught and we hear about the stars, but the ones who we don't really care about just kinda get ignored and serve their suspensions and it becomes pretty evident that getting around the drug testing is still seen as a necessary part of the game to a lot of players.
Do I think they're all douchebags like Roger Clemens? I can't say that I do.
In fact, I'd say the vast majority of the guys who are out there using performance enhancers are the guys that Ken Caminit talked about. Guys that are trying to make the most of their one shot and see PEDs as a necessary evil and I try to honestly put myself in their shoes and it's hard. Nobody's ever said to me, "If you work just as hard as you're working now, but just add this injection/cream/pill to your repertoire, you will make ten times as much money as you would without it." I don't know exactly what I would do if I were given that choice.
I'd like to think that I'd make the "right" decision, which to be perfectly honest, wouldn't have anything to do with the fans or my teammates, but would have everything to do with my family. If the right decision is that I want to be healthy for my kids in the future and alive for my wife in our old age, then PEDs is a No. But... If the right decision is to make sure that my kids can get into school, my family has a roof over our heads, I'm able to provide for them when my career is over at the age of 35/36/37, then, the answer is a definite Maybe.
So with the assumption that players out there probably don't consider me in their thought process when it comes to PEDs, I find it hard to get all up in arms about it. Because really, who are they cheating? They're not cheating me out of watching the games. One could say they're cheating to gain an advantage on other teams, but really, I'm still pretty convinced that there are cheaters on every team. So good... Go My Team. Beat those guys.
No. The worst is the idea that their cheating is allowing them to get ahead of the clean players, but at this point, if you're getting into professional athletics, it's impossible to not be aware that guys do this and, if you're clean, you've made the decision to continue with your career with those facts in front of you.
So, Yasmani Grandal cheated. I have trouble putting him in with the "Asshole Cheaters" and I obviously can't put him in the group of "Clean and Upstanding" anymore, so he just has to fall in this big gray area for me. And since I can't justify hating him without knowing his full story or who he stepped on to get ahead (guys who very easily could've also been cheating but haven't been caught) or what he plans on doing with the money or exactly how sorry he feels, then I just put the whole situation in the part of my brain that isn't going to worry too much about it.
Will I boo him after he serves his suspension? Probably not. Will I cheer him? Maybe not as loudly as I would have, and that's probably the real shame as a fan, being desensitized to this sort of thing. And since I don't want to not enjoy baseball anymore, I will just put Yasmani Grandal out of mind until he gets back and hope that when he does get back, he's doing the right thing.
Whatever that is.