Tuesday, February 10, 2009


"In Congress, in the press, and on the networks, the righteous grandstanding creeps, crazy to blame, deplore, and punish were out moralizing to beat the band: all of them in a calculated frenzy with what Hawthorne identified in the incipient country of long ago as "the persecuting spirit."--- The Human Stain, Philip Roth

Hear ye, Hear ye. The Court of Diamond Virtue is back in session. The Self-Anointed Pontificate of Baseball presides.

The Pontificate has convened this Inquisition in the Court of Public Resentment to judge the moral virtue and blood purity of one Alex R., a.k.a. A-Rod.

This Inquisitorial Tribunal is vested with the unlimited authority of the People's Right to Know.

As such, all public figures who whet the People's prurience -- whether Captain or Congressman, whether celebrated athlete or democratic representative, whether acting in the People's name or representing themselves as moral authorities --will be indiscriminately deemed "role models." As "role models," they forfeit the rights Americans otherwise cherish: the right to private medical records, the right to confront their accusers, the right to exclude unconstitutionally seized evidence or to suppress leaks that contravene a grand jury’s seal.

This Tribunal, accordingly, will scrutinize every facet of their professional and private lives and will release any salacious material uncovered. Indeed, should the Tribunal discover ethical lapses, personal trangressions, human failings, and illegal behavior however minor, the public figures will be publicly shamed, disgraced, and brought low. Let them that err be warned.

Would the Reprobate, Alex R., please rise?

Alex R., The Pontificate accuses, convicts, and sentences you for the following High Crimes:

High Crime Count 1: You, the Greatest Player in the Game, took illegal steroids six years ago. Even though the Game didn’t enforce a prohibition against said substances at the time, the Tribunal, nonethless, finds you guilty of cheating. Your offense against the spirit of sportsmanship, furthermore, deserves more draconian punishment than all the other forms of cheating the Game excused, overlooked, and/or condoned over the last century-- to wit, throwing spit balls, doctoring its seams, corking bats, stealing signs, using pinetar, ingesting "greenies" or snorting cocaine-- because the Pontificate says so.

High Crime-- Count 2: You, the Current Active Home zrun Leader, have desecrated the holy numbers 714, 755, and *61 and profaned the myth of the eternal, age-independent home run. (The Pontificate guards these numbers' sanctity notwithstanding the dramatic reduction in ballparks' dimensions over the last two decades or the profound changes the games has undergone since We canonized them. )

High Crime-- Count 3: By hitting 48 and 54 home runs in 2005 and 2007-- years you, Alex R., allegedly, did not use steroids-- and hitting 47 and 52 home runs in 2003 and 2001-- years you did use steroids-- You have vitiated our unproven-- but we nonetheless know to be incontrovertible-- assumption that performance enhancing drugs, however endemic to the era, inflate statistics, compromise the game’s outcome, and constitute the moral equivalent of the Black Sox scandal. (Moreover, Alex R., you are guilty now and forever. Once a steroid user, always a steroid user. No matter then how often you test negative over the next 10 years, the Pontificate will dismiss all negative urine tests' validity because they don't identify HGH or "designer drugs" and instead will accuse you of cheating or insinuate as much forever after.)

High Crime-- Count 4: Your crimes of moral turpitude, and your acts of grievous illegality, have sullied the reputation of all the honorable Saints and model Citizens who have consecrated the Diamond from time immemorial: (i) exalted symbols of racial brotherhood like Ty Cobb, Jake Powell, and Steve Carlton; (ii) shining beacons of sportsmanship like Gaylord Perry, Norm Cash, and the ’51 Giants; and (iii) paragons of good, clean athletic living like Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Fergie Jenkins and the ’86 Mets.

HIGH CRIME-- Count 5: You have exhibited a cavalier disregard for the scrupulous, double standard to which the Pontificate-- and the Game whose pure, sanctified tradition we presume to guard-- hold the baseball player. While musicians, actor and actresses, artists, writers and novelist may have used legal and illegal drugs for centuries, whether it was speed, sleeping pills, heroin, cocaine, or marijuana to enhance their performance, to fertilize their creativity, and to stimulate their imaginations-- to say nothing of the steroids epidemic use in football-- baseball players are not permitted an indulgence that would erode this Pontificate's authority to decide those worthy of honor, esteem, and reverence.

HIGH CRIME-- Count 6: You, the highest-paid player in baseball, in the largest media market, on the most hated/loved sports franchise in history, (i) have consorted with a known “Material Girl” of dubious morals who is nearly twice your age; (ii) have escorted strippers around Toronto after the New York Post paid a restaurateur to entrap you; (iii) have committed adultery and cheated on your loyal and fashion-conscious wife; (iv) have exposed yourself, to the waist, in Central Park at High Noon; and (v) have enjoyed yourself during the off-season in sundry place of ill-repute from strip clubs, gambling parlors, exclusive Bahaman casinos to charity golf tournaments.

High Crime-- Count 7: You have dared to challenge the motives and the zeal of the Pontificate’s most noble, selfless, upright member since Joseph Pulitzer originated yellow journalism-- Selena “the Impeccable” Roberts-- and derivatively, have impugned the unimpeachable propriety and integrity of the most venerable sports tabloid in world history, Sports Illustrated..

High Crime-- Count 8: You have failed to confess fully or to mortify yourself sufficiently (i) by refusing to confess that you used Primobolan and by refusing thereby to subject yourself to criminal penalties for the purchase, possession and/or ingestion of illegal drugs; (ii) by refusing to incriminate the trainers from whom you likely obtained said illegal drugs; (iii) by refusing, thereby, to reprise a Clemens-McNamee saga for our titillation; and (iv) by refusing to break down and grovel for forgiveness.

High Crime Count 9: You have dramatized the plague of performance enhancement that has swept the nation from its sub-prime mortgaged boardrooms to its Ritalin-fueled classrooms to its Viagra-augmented bedrooms when we would prefer to ignore said widespread illicit performance enhancement and the social context that would mitigate your crime.

High Crime Count 10: By failing to abstain from illegal drugs or from burnishing your credentials, you have failed to meet the exacting standard of moral purity and virtue the Diamond demands and that we, like many Americans, would fail but nonetheless apply to you.

Alex R., The Pontificate accuses, convicts, and sentences you, as well, for the following Misdemeanors:

Misdemeanor Count 1: Over the past fifteen years, you have responded to our questions like a canny and guarded politician instead of an indiscreet and hostile athlete and have refrained from furnishing inflammatory, bulletin board fodder. You are therefore guilty of insincerity and fraudulence.

Misdemeanor Count 2: You are better looking, more gifted, earn more money, and quite possibly, are more intelligent than most of us and certainly, more than many of us.

Misdemeanor Count 3: Worse, you confirmed your immodesty and had the gall to attribute our fixation with you to your being “good-looking and biracial" and "to making the most money and playing on the most popular team.”

Misdemeanor Count 4: You can hobnob and fornicate with C-list celebrities and fading stars in the teeth of our jealousy.

Misdemeanor Count 5: You don’t eat dinner with Derek Jeter anymore or emulate his superior taste in celebrities.

Misdemeanor Count 6: You upstaged the Red Sox’s dramatic 4-0 World Series sweep because your agent leaked news of your opt-out.

Misdemeanor Count 7: By opting out, you defied the ultimatum issued by the Pontificate’s second favorite GM and then by appealing over his head with ownership, you undermined his authority, and thwarted his desire to shun you.

Misdemeanor Count 8: You study kabbalah even though you’re not Jewish.

Misdemeanor Count 9: You somehow escaped the Mitchell report.

Misdemeanor Count 10: Your playoff statistics as a Seattle Mariner, and during your first seven post-season games as a Yankee, belie the impression we’ve otherwise created that you choke in the post-season and don’t deserve all that money.

On all the foregoing charges, Alex R., this Tribunal accuses, convicts, and finds you guilty, irrevocably and irredeemably, and sentences you as follows:

PUNISHMENT # 1 -- You are barred, now and forever, from entering the Hall of Purity, Virtue, and Fame no matter how many homeruns you amass over multiple seasons rigorous steroid-testing has purged, or will purge, from the insidious specter of performance enhancement, and no matter how many of your tainted inferiors we vote into the Hall of Purity, Virtue, and Fame because they have skirted positive tests or because we haven’t exposed them.

PUNISHMENT # 2 -- You must suffer the casuistry of our arbitrary and capricious, but nonetheless categorical, exclusion of you from the Hall of Purity, Virtue, and Fame, because we will never know how many players used steroids before 2004, how it distorted the league’s statistics, or even how it affects player’s performance, but someone has to pay for the Crime and to sate the public outrage the Pontificate has stoked.

PUNISHMENT # 3 -- Because we know how important your historical legacy is to you, every time any member of the Pontificate is queried about how your guilt affects it, the Pontificate will assert, repeatedly and dogmatically, that your legacy is irremediably tarnished until the prophecy fulfills itself and the magnanimous, hero-worshipping fans finally accept our dictate that all evildoing steroid-users should be shamed, disgraced, and ostracized for all eternity.

PUNISHMENT # 4 -- For the nine or more years you play and no matter how often the league examines your urine, we always will cast doubt upon, contest, depreciate or outright belittle every record you break or superb season you post by reminding the public that because the league refuses to draw your blood, because no test exist for HGH and “designer drugs,” we, the Pontificate, will forever presume you are guilty. Nothing you ever do will dissuade us.

PUNISHMENT # 5 -- You will suffer the Pontificate’s pious sermonizing, punitive anathemas, and sententious tirades until we find a more desirable scapegoat to revile.

PUNISHMENT # 6 -- You will be constrained to read, and will be interrogated upon, the book written by the Pontificate’s greatest Diamond theologian and metaphysician, Cardinal Tom Verducci because in the Holy Bible, The Yankee Years, he declares that because of steroids, (i) “the game became twisted into a perversion… and reduced to the lowest common denominator” (p. 89) and (ii) the “Steroid Era was baseball’s Watergate, a colossal breach of trust for which the institution is forever tainted” (p.119) even though all the ignorant laity continue to express their faith in it with their hard-earned dollar.

PUNISHMENT # 7 -- You will be consigned to Dante’s 10th Circle of Hell in which you will subjected to 24-hours, 7-days-a-week of Mad Dog Radio.

PUNISHMENT # 8 -- None of the above forecloses this Pontificate's authority to mete out greater punishment, ad nauseum and ad infinitum, if circumstances reveal that the Alex R. has eluded a Sysiphean fate.