Last week's headline stories about Alex Rodriguez and Dan Le Batard got me thinking about the spring of 1990, my final year at the Miami Herald.
Rodriguez, at age 15, had already attracted headlines as a shortstop and quarterback at Westminster Christian, a small private high school in south Miami.
Le Batard, who had shown great promise as a Miami Herald correspondent (i.e. free lance stringer) while earning his degree in journalism and politics at the University of Miami, was one of my last hires before I retired after 40 years at the paper.
Now Rodriguez has been hit with the stiffest performance-enhancing drugs penalty (one year suspension) in the history of baseball. And Le Batard, who gave away (sold?) his Hall of Fame vote to Deadspin, a sports website, has been kicked out of the Baseball Writers Association pf America for one year and lost his HOF vote for life.
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A-Rod's baseball career is over. For Le Batard it is a gray mark that won't go away soon, but he will survive.
My reaction in both cases: What were these guys thinking?
Let me make it clear, no one should equate the immoral drug-related actions of Rodriguez, as reported on CBS' 60 Minutes last Sunday, with Le Batard's dumb, self-serving move to sell his Hall of Fame vote.
Scott Pelley's report of how A-Rod blatantly disregarded baseball rules by doing business with a sleazy drug dealer, Tony Bosch, bordered on the unbelievable.
Bosch talked of his biggest client paying $12,000 a month for personal injections; something called "gummies" that Rodriguez could gobble down just before games; and lessons on how to control the flow of urine into a cup to avoid detection after games.
Rodriguez's goal was to become the first member of "The 800 Club" -- the first man in major league history to hit 800 home runs. Right now he has 654, which means his chances of reaching that mark are slim and none.
Following Sunday's "60 Minutes" revelations Rodriguez denied everything. He said he is suing everyone in sight, including the Major League Baseball Players Association, which had until recently supported him in his legal fight with MLB and the New York Yankees.
Another obvious goal, which has slipped away, is election to the Hall of Fame, which brings us back to Le Batard, who I stay in contact with and consider a good friend. (He is the only sports writer who ever gave me a Christmas gift.)
In spelling out his reason for turning over his vote to Deadspin, Le Batard spoke of his disenchantment with the HOF voting process. He feels that "this is a new media world" and not voting for alleged steroid users Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens is wrong.
Obviously that kind of thinking would include Rodriguez when he becomes eligible. But alas, Dan no longer has a vote. And A-Rod has no chance anyway.
I feel sorry that things have turned out this way for both of these talented men.