In Ken Burns “Baseball,” there is a story about Ty Cobb going into a liquor store, and Shoeless Joe Jackson was at the register. Cobb recognized Jackson and asked, “Hey, don’t you know me?” Jackson’s response was, “Of course, but I didn’t think you would want to know me.”
That was then. Now, it’s different. Known cheaters are all around baseball, and they’re on television, telling us their stories, giving their opinions of how the game should be played. I seem to be the only one who sees the white elephant in the room. Why would I want to listen and see someone who would cheat at the game I love? I would not. I do not. They need to go away. But there is something worse than that. Known cheaters are now becoming coaches. Such is the case with Barry Bonds, who is now the hitting coach for the Miami Marlins.
There is no fading into the background for Bonds. Instead, he will be in a position of influence, to young, hungry players, who even before they step into a major league park will have the wrong mentality of playing the game of baseball. That the rules don’t apply. Can you imagine what would happen to a young ballplayer who thinks that the rules don’t apply to him?
Bonds and the others from the steroids era bother me because it’s not just a breaking of the rule. We all break rules. We speed and skip a stop sign. Yes, people do that. That is different than having a cheater mentality. My definition of the cheater mentality is that one day a person woke up and made a decision that winning was more important than the rules. Before any needle, before any drug even touched their body, they decided that to win, the rules didn’t apply to them and they were going to take any steps necessary to win.
Now, here is something even more scary. Let’s put these people in positions of power. Make them hitting coaches and bench coaches. Make them managers. Make them general managers. Where does it stop?