I’m Cool with #RE2PECT, but What about #FORG1V3?

Now that he’s reinstated, will you #FORG1V3? credit: Wikipedia

This summer, Nike released this ad in celebration of Derek Jeter’s final season.  It quickly went viral, and soon enough, #RE2PECT was plastered all over every social media site imaginable.  Not surprisingly, people got tired of all the Jeter worship and The Onion started publishing articles like this, mocking the fact that people were talking about him as if he were dying.  While I agree that the marketing and discussion regarding his retirement got a little old, the Yankee fan in me let it slide.  Jeter was a winner and a fantastic player, but most of all was an excellent role model and person-something that his contemporary Alex Rodriguez never was.

Fast forward to last week, when the World Series ended and Alex Rodriguez was reinstated after serving a 162 game (full season) suspension.  Almost instantaneously, people began to reference the infamous Jeter commercial, and “Bald Vinny,” a Yankees fan famous for his hilarious ramblings and entrepreneurial pursuits, released these #FORG1V3 shirts.  Obviously this is just a tongue-and-cheek response to the overblown Jeter coverage, but it does raise an interesting question: Is what Alex Rodriguez did forgivable?  Was his involvement with Biogenesis and performance enhancing drugs bad enough to make him one of the most disliked athletes in the country? 

When Rodriguez entered Major League Baseball in 1994, there were no official policies regarding testing for performance enhancing drugs.  In the context of steroids, baseball operated in a way similar to the Hobbesian state of nature.  Hobbes argues that with equality of ability “ariseth equality of hope in the attaining of our ends.”  For professional baseball players in the 1990s and early 2000s, using steroids were a way of attaining those ends.  Steroids made players stronger and faster, which in turn led to more playing time and bigger contracts.  As long as there was no testing, every player had a strong monetary incentive to use performance enhancing drugs.  Players were constantly in competition with each other for resources, just as Hobbes describes when talking about his state of nature, and those who did not use steroids were not protecting themselves from losing those resources to another player.  Obviously players were not actively looking to harm one another in the way that Hobbes describes, but they were doing whatever was in their power to help their own causes.

Baseball’s rampant steroid problem in the late 1990s prompted images like this. Credit: thedesertreview.com

In 2009, it was reported that Rodriguez was one of 104 players who tested positive for steroids on a drug test conducted in 2003.  Since the test was administered the year before testing became mandatory, he received no penalty.  In wake of the test, he admitted to using performance enhancing drugs early in his career, but never after 2004, when the testing became mandatory.  Had he actually stopped using the drugs then, I would be able to #FORG1V3.  He was using them to compete with numerous other players who were doing the same things, trying to protect his position and property in accordance with Hobbes’s state of nature.  However, he did not stop then, as he was suspended in 2013 for his connections to Biogenesis, and recently admitted that he used performance enhancing drugs that they provided him.

The mandatory testing in 2004 emerged out of a 2002 agreement between the Players Association and owners to try to curb steroid abuse.  In a Hobbesian sense, this agreement can be seen as a covenant among players.  As a group, they gave up their right to use performance enhancing drugs, ensuring that no one would gain an unfair advantage.  Major League Baseball acted as the commonwealth, providing punishment for positive tests to encourage players to stay clean.  When Rodriguez began using steroids again in 2010, the post-covenant era, he betrayed the trust of his fellow players and attempted to take advantage of them.  By violating his covenant with those in his community, he tried to promote the “successful wickedness” that Hobbes warns about, and for that reason, I will not be able to #FORG1V3.

While I do think that Rodriguez’s actions are unforgivable, I still do not understand why he has become the most vilified baseball player in recent memory.  Plenty of other players used steroids after 2003, and none of them have been subject to the hatred that Rodriguez has. In fact, people hardly remember other players who tested positive.  He became the scapegoat for all users, and was the only player to be suspended for an entire season for the Biogenisis scandal.  Major League Baseball (the commonwealth) was right in punishing him, but did not necessarily act justly.

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3 comments

  1. hsharf · November 6, 2014

    I have been an avid Yankee fan since birth, and agree that A-Rod should not be forgiven for his actions. In 2009, when it was released that he was among the 104 players on the list of players who use PED’s,people were able to forgive him. He admitted that he made a mistake in the past, and he claimed to have moved on. If he were to never be associated with steroids again- and other immature media scandals- I and most fans would forgive him. However, A-Rod was involved in other PED scandals. And on top of this, he tried to cover up his most recent Biogenesis scandal. This shows that A-Rod is untrustworthy, a liar, and again that he is a cheater. Because A-Rod made the same mistake more than once, and then tried to hide it, it will be impossible for him to be forgiven by baseball, Yankee fans, and the media. The author asks why he is the most vilified player in baseball. The answer is simple. A-Rod was the best player in baseball and made the most money. Because of this, he is under a microscope like no other player. Furthermore, because he was the best, he was kept to a higher standard than almost any other player. On top of this, he plays in New York. In the Big Apple, the media blows everything out of proportion. It is one of the largest markets in the world, and A-Rod plays for the most widely known franchise in baseball. Because of this, the media is all over him. Fort these reason and others, A-Rod is the most scrutinized player in MLB history.

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  2. acfalk2 · November 6, 2014

    I am an avid baseball fan, and Derek Jeter has been my idol since I started playing baseball, which was at the age of two. I agree that his goodbye season was a little bit over done, but someone who has had such a positive impact on the sport of baseball does deserve the goodbye he had. Growing up A-Rod was another player that I really enjoyed watching play once he was on the Yankees. During his whole career in the Bronx he was notorious for going through huge slumps, and the fans would go from kissing the ground he walked on to throwing peanuts at him on the field. It was obvious that he was an easy person to hate for many people because he could go on a 5 HR during 7 games streak, while also consecutively striking out over 15 times in a row. Don’t get me wrong, he was a great player, but once he was put in the same environment as “the Derek Jeter” they were constantly compared. People would pinpoint every negative aspect he had and put it side by side with Derek Jeter. When the Yankees signed A-Rod they knew he was coming with baggage, compared to the squeaky clean record of Jeter. Once A-Rod hit a slump, everything he ever did in his past was blamed in some way or another. Great players such as Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, and Barry Bonds were all caught taking steroids during one point of their career. Bonds was stripped of his “Home Run King” title and record, but he still did not face the amount of cruelty and animosity that A-Rod has been facing. Roger Clemens lied to congress about his steroid use, and although he did face negativity for a decent amount of time afterwards it wasn’t nearly as long as what A-Rod has been going through. So what makes A-Rod different? I truly do not know. Some people will say it is because of how he has handle the situation, others will say that he wasn’t a likable guy, and others will say it is because he was such a highly paid athlete who abused the system. A-Rod is in the dog house because of his negative actions, while Derek Jeter is getting praised for his positive actions, and this is why I believe that the #FORG1V3 campaign will never reach the popularity of the # RE2PECT campaign.

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  3. sgoldberg18 · November 6, 2014

    Along with the other commentors, I’m a huge baseball fan. I’m from a suburb of NYC, so I grew up traveling into the city to go to Yankees games, and I learned my first naughty words at a season opener of the Yankees vs. Red Sox when I was 8. I loved Derek Jeter and A-Rod when I was younger. For a long time, I was willing to forgive A-Rod. Now, I know that he’s not deserving of it. He knowingly used an illegal substance to enhance his performance. He received an inordinate amount of money for that enhanced performance, money that he did not deserve. Men like Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez become idols for young kids. They are the ones you look up to when you’re on the softball field at regional championships, or when you think of an athlete who lived through their dreams. DJ made a great role model for his fans, while A-Rod let those kids down. He’s just done so much that I can’t agree with and that I think makes him an awful athlete and role model. It’s time for A-Rod to end his career, and I sincerely hope this season is his last.

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