Where there is smoke, there is fire. Where there is NFL Preseason, there is drama. Dallas Cowboys rookie wide receiver Dez Bryant made news this week when he refused to carry veteran wideout Roy Williams’ pads as a part of a “rookie tradition.” It’s stories like this that make me wonder whether I am watching SportsCenter or Friday Night Lights, but I suppose its better than hearing about Brett Favre tossing a football at a local high school. Favre is still undecided about playing this coming season.
The Miami Heat now have challengers for This Years Most Controversial Team- they will compete ardently with the Cincinnati Bengals, who recently signed free agent wide receiver Terrell Owens. Dizzy pointed out that a Chad Johnson and T.O. duo are bound to impress us with touchdown celebrations, and something tells me that these two colorful personalities are bound to turn post-game press conferences into first-class entertainment.
In the NBA, rumors of a trade that would send Chris Paul to NY seem to be just that: rumors. The New Orleans Hornets point guard mentioned the New York Knicks as one of many teams to whom he would consider a trade. This whet the appetites of Knicks fans everywhere who fantasize about the possibility of a Carmelo Anthony-Chris Paul-Amare Stoudemire trio that would rival the Miami Heat. But for now, these will remain the whimsical dreams of a city still mending broken dreams— dreams shattered by LeBron James.
The trading deadline in the MLB always promises a bit of excitement, and this year has been no exception. Phillies acquired right-handed pitcher Roy Oswalt from the Houston Astros for a handful of players and prospects. The Phillies already have arguably the best pitcher in baseball in Roy Halladay, but they can use all the help they can get to chase the new-look, first-place Atlanta Braves. The Chicago White Sox also added an arm, trading Daniel Hudson to the Arizona Diamondbacks for fireballer Edwin Jackson. Jackson’s high ERA belies untapped potential, as Jackson has already thrown a no hitter this year. The White Sox are in first place in the AL Central, but the Minnesota Twins are in right on their heels.
I am a Red Sox fan, but the story that has captivated me most this week is Alex Rodriguez quest for 600 homeruns. A-Rod is sitting on 599 homeruns, and he has been there long enough for controversy to arise about the legitimacy of such a milestone. He is one of many major league sluggers whose name has been tarnished by steroid use. My fondest memories of baseball came during the height of the steroids epidemic (Sosa-McGwire homerun race, Bonds, Red Sox 2004 World Series etc). Hearing A-Rod admit to using steroids was like hearing confirmation that your girlfriend of many years has been cheating on you: you knew all along but clung to the perverse hope that it wasn’t true. But as I get older and wiser, I struggle to see the difference between an artist singing a radio-friendly verse, college students taking amphetamines to study for finals, and athletes taking performance-enhancing drugs; we all do what we believe we have to do to get ahead.
To me, A-Rod etched his name in the Bush League Hall of Fame well before I found out he took steroids. 1) A-Rod tried to slap the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s glove in 2007 as he approached first base to avoid being tagged. 2) In that same year, as Alex was rounding third base against the Blue Jays he yelled: “I got it!” as two infielders converged on a pop-up. Needless to say amidst the confusion these infielders dropped the fly ball. 3) Even this season, A-Rod decided to walk across the pitcher’s mound while heading back to first base after a foul ball. All three of these instances display his lack of baseball etiquette.
But I am loath to throw him in the same batch of steroid sluggers who have faded into obscurity without so much as an apology. I hope history remembers him kindly, or at least relatively kindly compared to the likes of a Rafael Palmeiro– who lied under oath and tested positive for steroids during the 2005 season. Whenever A-Rod does hit 600, I hope he does it in a losing effort. After all, the Red Sox have a lot of ground to makeup in the AL East.