Yesterday’s Washington Post “Outlook” section was polluted by a column by blogger Lisa Swan, and were her message not so ethically offensive, I would be inclined to ignore it. Her masterpiece was titled, “The Redemption of A-Rod,” and it argued that because Yankee designated hitter Alex Rodriguez has played unexpectedly well for his team after a one-year suspension, because the team is doing well this season, because he has not, as in the past, been involved in some embarrassing or slimy scandal on field or off for the grand total of nearly three months, and most of all, because Yankee fans are cheering him, he has become, in her words, a “role model.” She writes, and I am suppressing a gag reflex as I type this:
“We want our role models to be perfect, especially for our children’s sake. But what can flawless, contour-free statues — the marble creatures on pedestals — really teach us about overcoming adversity? The reality is that most of us have more A-Rod in us than we do Jeter. No. 2 is cool but boring; No. 13 is the one who, after decades of trying, finally bested his demons — the flawed human who dug his own grave, then climbed out of it.”
The stunning thing is that A-Rod’s biggest and most ethically obtuse fan does a reasonably fair job of summarizing his illegal, dishonest, unsportsmanlike, narcissist and sociopathic behavior. She writes…
He had received the longest suspension in MLB history for his use of performance-enhancing drugs, missing the entire 2014 season. [Note from me–this was after he was caught a second time cheating with PEDs, after a moving public mea culpa years earlier dismissing the first episode of cheating as an aberration, never to be repeated.] He was [ Note: IS] a known cheater, liar and all-around weirdo. He had paid off his creepy cousin Yuri to keep quiet about what substances he used [Note: this is called “obstruction of justice”], sued everybody from Yankees team doctor Chris Ahmad to Columbia University Medical Center to the commissioner of Major League Baseball [ Note: And threatened to sue his fellow players, all on the false premise that he was being framed and was pure as the driven snow], and eventually made a deal with the feds. He was caught cheating on his wife with a stripper and broke up his marriage for good.
Lisa does not quite emphasize the fact that while knowing well that his as yet undisclosed cheating ways would render him a pariah and a stain on the Yankee name, he allowed the Yankees to sign him to a staggering contract that even now will net him 64 million dollars over this and the next two seasons, and there is not a thing the New York baseball team can do about it. What Lisa is swooning about is that A-Rod, being guaranteed over 20 million dollars this season even without those bonuses that the Yankees are (rightly) refusing to pay—since the anticipated publicity and public relations bonanza they expected to have with Alex passing the games’ greatest hitters in various career totals isn’t so impressive when everyone knows the guy was juicing and lying about it—is that he’s trying to earn his salary.
Wow. What a hero.
A-Rod is only a legitimate role model for other cheating, lying sports superstars who embarrassed their teams, betrayed their team mates and sullied the sports they played, and who still have millions upon millions in the bank and are ensured of earning millions more. Similarly, Nathan Leopold, who devoted his post-prison life to various philanthropic causes, was a wonderful, inspiring role model for other thrill-killing master race aficionados who killed a helpless child for the fun of it. The rest of us? Not so much.
Swan’s logic seems to begin and end with, “if he made Yankee fans cheer him, all is forgiven.” From my experience, Yankee fans would cheer Satan, Dracula and Pol Pot if they turned a neat double play. What role is A-Rod modelling? Now that he has leveraged his lies and cheating to the point where he is guaranteed a gazillion dollars for just showing up, he is deigning to act like any non-sociopathic player for a while. A more rational assessment of A-Rod’s status was filed by blogger and Yankee fan George Guerin, who in an “Open Letter of Disappointment” to the Yankee slugger, whom I am sure wept bitter tears while reading it as he took a long pleasure bath in a tub filled with Dom Perignon and Hooters Girls, wrote in part,
“Yes, Alex, you have had a good run this year with little controversy, compared to previous years. We have seen you working hard, righting things with your teammates, your fans, yourself, but unfortunately the damage has been done. There will always be controversy that will cloud your image just enough to make us the least bit indifferent — or is the word apathetic? angry? — about whatever your latest accomplishment may be….I want you to know that I’m angry. I am angry you can’t be the true hero you could have been if the dark cloud of steroids wasn’t attached to your name. I am angry you took away our chance to celebrate your accomplishments as they deserve to be lauded. And I am angry you stole the chance to be a true sports role model for my son’s generation. I cannot truly feel happy for you, and it makes me mad….Could you have simply believed in yourself, in your talent, in your trainers and in your natural ability that got you to the major leagues 20 years ago, then this latest achievement, your 3,000th hit garnered in home run style, would be a completely different ballgame…People would be cheering your name from the rooftops, telling your story to their children, bragging that we have a baseball legend in our midst. You would be one of the greatest of all time. But you blew it. Now everything that you have accomplished, currently accomplish and will accomplish in the future, is discredited.”
Of course it is.
Lisa, would-be ethics corrupter that she aspires to be, apparently doesn’t have the first clue of what a role model is. One doesn’t have to be perfect, but A-Rod is so far from perfect that he couldn’t see it with the Hubble Telescope. Overcoming adversity? There are literally millions of Americans, many of them kids, who overcome more adversity than this cur every day of their lives. Adversity for A-Rod was 1) getting caught and 2) having to take a year off with only a hundred million dollars or so in the banks and mutual funds to console him. Oh, and a lot of people wrote uncomplimentary things about him, all of which he deserved. I’ll take that adversity, please!
Ethically ignorant columns like hers are cultural poison, because they define virtue and character down so far that anyone, no matter how vile and harmful their conduct, can be a “role model” or a “hero.” We must choose our heroes well, because they have the power to corrupt us. Choosing a role model like Alex Rodriguez is the equivalent of character suicide.
Source: Washington Post
13 thoughts on “No, Lisa, Alex Rodriguez Has Not Suddenly Become a Role Model. Also, YECCCHHHH…”
And let’s not forget the benefits of steroids last for upwards of four years.
Another baseball post coming…
My role model now is the one armed boxer “Tien Lung”, from the 1973 movie “One Armed Boxer”.
Die hard Yankee fan. I disowned Alex two years ago. Just before the season started, I wrote something very similar. Alex wanted his return to be treated as his glorious redemption, even before he picked up a bat. He wrote a “handwritten” apology to his fans saying that he accepted the consequences for his actions (which he was going to face whether he “accepted” them or not). I argued he should walk away from baseball, to set a powerful precedent and example for future would be cheaters; the fact that he is doing well only attests to the strength his example might have been.
As a Red Sox fan there must be a Baseball God this atheist can make a offering to over the fact the “Slappy” didn’t come our way. If Henry and his pillagers had their way he’d be in town now! But, alas, the boys didn’t have the cash and the union/Commish shot down creative accounting, and The Fraud – despite his sudden love of Boston – went elsewhere.
Back then I always viewed A-Rod as about the most gifted player not named Ruth. Total A-Hole? Of course. Then when the rest came out? Geez.
I know. And At the time—you’ll recall the idea was to get rid of Manny, who is scum—I was enthusiastic about the trade. Moral luck.
Alex Rodriguez is one of the chief reasons why my enjoyment of baseball is rapidly becoming confined to what playing of it I do with my grandchildren. I catch myself sometimes forcing myself to watch MLB, out of respect for any players past and present who were and are worthy of respect (Jackie Robinson, and of course the “iron men,” Lou Gehrig and Cal Ripken, come to mind first, but there are many others), despite the detestable, cowardly inclusiveness that the business has embraced.
If Yankee fans can cheer Andy Pettitte, they can cheer Alex Rodriguez. I am a Red Sox fan but I laugh when I hear the hypocrites regarding A-Rod. They love him when he hits big homers and the went bananas in 2009 for him. They love him again. Lisa Swan was right, but by all means help her get more readers
Let’s see, that’s a #22, a #1, and probably a few more rationalizations. Alex makes Pettite look like Christy Mathewson. How is Lisa Swan “right”?
Hi, Jack. Thanks for writing an entire post about “The Redemption of A-Rod,” my article for the Washington Post. I’m flattered. Really.
Was just wondering about one thing, though. Since you are all about ethics, why didn’t you mention in your screed that you are a Boston Red Sox fan? After all, if my fandom is relevant to my article, then so is yours. Thanks and have a great day!
Thanks for visiting.
1. My Red Sox background is up front and center on my biography here and every Ethics seminar I teach. From the bio on EA:
Like many who are interested in the nature of good, evil, justice, and chaos, Jack Marshall is a lifetime fan of the Boston Red Sox.
2. Since I am a baseball fan first, and an ethicist, and since I have proven my objectivity regarding both the Res Sox (by criticizing the team and various employees) and my praising the Yankees management and players when it was warranted, the team I happen to follow—and since my Boston roots are even more obvious here than my Sox fetish, and almost everyone born and raised in the Boston area IS a Red Sox fan, I don’t think it’s relevant to the issue at hand, namely A-Rod.
Here: these are the Red Sox related articles, hardly hidden.
If you were trying to suggest that I have some kind of bias against a cheating, sociopathic slimeball just because he is a Yankee, check my posts on Manny Ramirez.
Um, no. Since you are the ethics expert, you should know that you need to put potential conflicts of interest in the actual article you are writing. You cannot assume that anybody reading the piece is going to look at anything else on your site. So you should have said upfront in your article attacking A-Rod and me that you are a Red Sox fan. Because of course it is relevant.
And please, let other people, not yourself, be the judge of how “objective” you are when it comes to your Boston fandom. I criticize the Yankees front office, too. Doesn’t mean I am objective. I am upfront about my biases, though. You should have been as well. After all, it is the ethical thing to do.
I thought so, and your suggestion/accusation is bullshit, to be blunt. Since I don’t believe that following a baseball team creates a bias as you describe in rational people (How do I benefit in any way from criticizing Alex Rodriguez?), I don’t have any obligation to flag an irrelevancy. Conflict of interest should be flagged, but this isn’t a conflict of interest, since it affects neither the fortunes of the Red Sox or myself in any way. All possible irrational biases CAN’T be flagged. Here are some other reasons I could be “biased” against Alex: I’m a lawyer, I’m anti-drugs, anti-lying, anti-asshole, anti-cheating, and anti-jerk. I’m also pro-integrity, pro-baseball, pro-fair competition, pro-punishment, and pro-people not getting outrageous rewards for dishonest conduct. Every one of those is far more germane than my being a life-time Red Sox fan—which, by the way, is a state with the culture of cheering opposing players who are true champions and a credit to the game regardless of what team they play for—in correctly assessing Alex’s status as a “role model,” which is so easy that it should be a breeze for anyone.
And yet you failed.