It’s one thing for baseball teams to take advantage of the talents and chemical enhancements of players who use steroids. In a strange, twisted way, I almost get that. The idea is to win, and teams look the other way in pursuit of winning.
But it’s another thing altogether for teams to hire retired steroid cheats to help teach young players. The fox used to be in the henhouse; now he’s going to be allowed to lead seminars on proper techniques for henhouse entry? What a world.
This time it’s the Yankees and Alex Rodriguez, who will play his last game Friday and then become a special adviser and instructor with the team. He joins other drug cheaters who have gone on to coaching or advising roles – Mark McGwire (Cardinals, Dodgers, Padres), Manny Ramirez (Cubs) and Barry Bonds (Marlins).
The Yankees might simply want to get their money’s worth out of Rodriquez, who is still owed $21 million next season. And there is no doubt that someone who has played 19 major-league seasons has amassed a lot of knowledge. But whatever the reasons for his continued employment, they pale in relation to the damage that he and others did to the game.
The Yankees will argue, as the Cubs did with Ramirez, that there is no one better to counsel players on the path not to take. But why do the lessons always have to come from people who have used steroids in the past? And what are those lessons? Don’t take drugs, kid, because you might end up fabulously wealthy and then get to work with a team after your career ends.
“We have an exciting group of talented young players at every level of our system,’’ Yankees managing general partner Hall Steinbrenner said in a statement. “Our job as an organization is to utilize every resource possible to allow them to reach their potential, and I expect Alex to directly contribute to their growth and success.’’
To Major League Baseball, it’s as if the Steroid Era never happened. You would think the game would want nothing to do with the cheaters. You would think that after the cheaters retired, the game would want them to go away.
Instead, baseball continues to embrace them.
What’s next, Sammy Sosa for MLB commissioner?