Sunday, September 6, 2015

The bad new days

Of course, the title is opposed to the "good old days". Many years ago, most sports fans had little to be concerned with regarding the behavior of their home town heroes. Sure, lots of hanky-panky went on back then but either nobody much cared, or it was swept under the rug by the reporters.

The Baseball Hall of Fame is chock full of drunks and adulterers. Babe Ruth was a known womanizer and Joe Dimaggio supposedly had a "girl in every port" while on road trips. Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, and Billy Martin were notorious booze-hounds, and this was hardly peculiar to the Yankees. It went on elsewhere, but the Bronx Bombers did, and do, receive the most publicity. Nobody cared.

The NFL was certainly no angel either. In decades past, it has since been revealed many of the players were either popping pills (greenies), or getting shots just before a game and again at halftime. Some serious amphetamines, uppers if you will. It would turn them into animals when they took the field. But nobody cared.

Lance Armstrong became the poster boy for "doping" on the Tour de France, but few seriously doubt this practice had gone on for decades before. One way or the other, they were likely "cheating" with various substances. But only just recently has it become an issue.

The steroid era in baseball speaks for itself. We all know about that. But only because it was finally exposed. Sort of. Ironically, though accusations flew every which way, and the authorities spent countless millions trying to prove it, no player was ever officially convicted of "juicing". The "court of public opinion" (especially the politically correct knee-jerk media) has certainly judged them over the years,and returned a guilty verdict, but an argument could certainly be made that a player that otherwise would have no-brainer Hall of Fame credentials being denied induction on mass speculation without proof is a flawed premise indeed. But it is what it is. Guys like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and yes, Pete Rose, will eventually be enshrined. It's just a matter of time. Hopefully they live long enough to enjoy the moment of it happening. A definite maybe.

Yet these days, we seem to be hit with another "incident" in the world of sports every day. Car wrecks, DUIs, various assaultive behavior, and "substances" are certainly still around. It's an ongoing battle between the chemists coming up with something new and the laboratory narcs figuring out a test that will detect it. It seems to morph by the day. Who will eventually prevail would seem to be a very good question.

Some dopey football player actually managed to shoot himself in the leg with his own gun -- while he was playing with it in his pocket at a nightclub. The boys of summer in days of old may have drank a lot of booze and had their way with a lot of women, but they weren't THAT stupid.

Or maybe they were, but we never knew about it. And that's the thing. Any little incident that comes up these days with a sports figure will be hyped to the heavens by the media. It will be on TV, in print, on the net, and all over various social media as well. Millions will draw premature conclusions, usually guilty, without having the slightest idea of what really happened. But the media will shamelessly milk it and hype it for all it's worth. It's all about ratings, and the millions of idiots that will believe whatever hype they are fed. Remember Anderson Cooper, CNN, and that missing Malaysian jetliner? They ran the story non-stop for a full month. All kinds of pseudo-experts jabbered away with various theories. Their ratings went up, though they didn't have a collective clue all along. Over a year later, the plane STILL hasn't been found. AC, of the Vanderbilt family, can ask dumb questions and give even dumber looks, but the blue-bloods like Vanderbilts can get away with such nonsense.

[Note the recent Tom Brady "deflategate" case. It took an investigator 2 months to put together a 200 page report -- at the cost of millions -- only to never uncover any hard evidence of wrong-doing. A suspension, then an appeal which was denied. Three go-rounds in a federal court and, finally, mercifully, a judge got off his ass and made a decision. The case was tossed. Brady has been vindicated. For now. Roger Goodell and his merry band of incompetent power hungry legal beagles were out of line in the first place rendering such an arbitrary punishment. But of course, they have appealed. The stupidity goes on. If likely denied in an appellate court, months from now, would they really have the audacity to pursue it all the way to the Supremes? Over footballs that were allegedly a half a pound under-inflated in a 45-7 blowout game? The very same game where Tom Brady's stats were much better in the second half after the "error" had been corrected at halftime? Could the Commish and his minions possibly be that obtuse?]

But back to the point. All kinds of not-so-good stuff happened in the old days, but usually the press turned a blind eye. How do you think John and Bobby Kennedy's go-rounds with Marilyn Monroe would go over these days? Ted's little Chappaquiddick adventure that resulted in the death of a young lady was swept under the rug. Fast forward. One-time comer Gary Hart (very much married) got caught on a tropical island with a bimbo in tow. End of political career. Bill Clinton even got impeached over his escapades in the Oval Office, but they don't call him Slick Willy for nothing. Ahem, on a couple fronts.

Thing is, nowadays everybody's under a microscope. Reporters, cameras, microphones, and those pesky citizens capturing everything on video with their smart phones don't miss much.

Maybe this is a good thing. It surely aids in catching a lot of evil-doers.

Nah. No way. What righteous American wants to be under surveillance 24/7? The Founding Fathers would have shuddered at such a future possibility.

Bottom line. If some jock does something truly outrageous, like going on a murderous rampage, then OK, maybe that should be news. Like it would be for any other citizen.

But tell me the jocks of yesteryear didn't slug people -- even women -- get pulled over for driving drunk, and have a bunch of "pills" in their possession at times -- and I'll tell you I don't believe a word of it. It happened. All the time.

But nobody cared back then and, even if they did, their voices would never be heard.

Times have definitely changed.

Pros and cons to that. The truth is always a good thing, but too much of it when it comes to one's sports heroes can be counter-productive as well.

There's some things we just don't want to know.


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