Last night, as Alex Rodriguez stood in against Jonathan Papelbon in the top of the 9th, the Fenway Faithful began to chant. “You did steroids,” they said. “You did steroids.”
The sounds filled the stadium, and while Michael Kay didn’t quote the crowd, he called a “derogatory” crowd. It was by far the most vicious taunting Alex Rodriguez has received all year, but A-Rod has heard louder boos from the Bronx crowds than that. It was almost disappointing in its unoriginality and tameness.
Meanwhile, in related news, USA Today’s Tom Weir reported on Selena Roberts’ low sales totals. Her A-Rod biography has sold just 16,000 copies of its 150,000 press run. It is a bomb (and it’s not very good either).
Across the country, Manny Ramirez, serving a 50-game suspension for a failed drug test, visited the Dodgers’ clubhouse, and his teammates are eagerly anticipating his return. Dodgers fans appear to be as well, and with these tepid responses and outright forgiveness, I have to wonder if we’re at the end of the era when fans actually cared about players’ purported drug use.
For the better part of the decade, steroid use and its impact on baseball have dominated the headlines. The BALCO raid happened in 2003, and Jason Giambi’s apology came in 2005. The Mitchell Report misfired in 2007, and since then, a steroid-induced fatigue has settled over the game.
Right now, the only people left outraged are baseball columnists and Hall of Fame voters. The fans have embraced their players, and as the Boston crowd showed last night, they taunt their team’s opponents out of some sense of duty with no real emotion behind it.
So if the fans have moved on and if the players and owners are satisfied with the continued efforts to keep the game as clean as possible, it’s probably time for everyone else to move on. Baseball’s leaders need to focus on the future and forget about the past. Hall of Fame voters need to recognize their complicity in feeding a drug-fueled home run-happy beast.
Maybe I’m a little premature in calling the era of outrage over. But if it’s not there yet, it’s on its dying breath. The game is better off for it. We don’t need to take glee in catching players who used drugs when, well, everyone else is doing, and we can instead look ahead to another day, another game and another pennant race free from overwrought accusations and poorly written books.