As anyone who has read my blog knows, I always tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, especially, for some reason, if they play a professional sport. I don't know why that has been the case - maybe because for my whole life, I've put these people up on a pedestal.
Recently, that has changed. It started probably not with the players, but with the dishonesty of the coaches, that started opening my eyes to the fact that no one in professional sports deserved the benefit of the doubt. That's why I trust the Mitchell Report's allegations more than I trust the denials of the players involved, vehement though they may be. And when individual players admit to their transgressions, it just makes me believe the Report as a whole even more.
Everyone involved in professional sports has been taken down a peg in my book. And Major League Baseball players seem to be a little worse than the rest. To see a player defend cheaters, it makes me angry. And when cheaters rank higher in a player's book than replacement players, I get even more angry. Here are the words of Brad Ausmus, as reported by Nick Cafardo in the Boston Globe this past Sunday. Ausmus is talking about whether it will be troublesome for players named in the Mitchell Report to be accepted in the clubhouse.:
"I think in the case of the replacement players way back, they had a lot tougher time blending back into the clubhouse. This is totally different. I certainly am not going to demonize a player who was on the Mitchell Report. I feel badly for all of those guys. At the very worst, if all the allegations in that report are true, we're not talking about murder here. They aren't bad people. Throughout time, and in different sports, you've always had people trying to beat the system. They didn't do it to hurt anybody else, they did it because they wanted to get stronger and better."
The part that bothers me most (besides the fact that he's giving cheaters a free pass) is the shot at the replacement players. I know I can be making enemies with this statement, and that the baseball players' union can hunt me down and kill me for writing it, but I don't blame the replacement players. These are guys trying to earn a living doing what they love. I can't say that if I was a little (OK, a lot) more talented, I wouldn't have crossed the picket line to play a couple of weeks for the Mets, and make a dream come true. And then maybe if I was good enough, I could catch on, and make a career out of it, a la Rick Reed, or Kevin Millar. But those were guys that were demonized, and ostracized in clubhouses, when they were regular guys, non-cheaters (maybe), trying to earn a living. (And I don't buy for a minute that they were 'stealing bread from major leaguers' plates' - was there ever an instance where anyone thought the replacement players posed a threat to anything the million-dollar baseball players stood for?)
I feel like in an indirect way, while Ausmus is saying people named in the Mitchell Report aren't bad guys, he is saying the replacement players were, and that bothers me.
I also realize that Ausmus was probably close with Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, and will be playing next year with Miguel Tejada, all named in the Mitchell Report, and maybe he didn't want to rock any boats. But if that's the case, a simple 'no comment' would have worked wonders here.
E-MAIL: It appears I may have won some sort of Swiss e-mail lottery now.....