Society's Memory is Too Fleeting. A-Rod, the Yankees, and Forgetfulness

October 26th, 2009

I am a pretty big Yankee fan. I was absolutely ecstatic watching the game last night, when the Yankees dewinged the Angels, and punched their ticket for the 2009 World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies.

But something irked me. Alex Rodriguez, or A-Rod as he is commonly known, is one of the greatest baseball players alive today. He has been hot in the playoffs. But A-Rod’s season did not start off so well.

Jim Caple from ESPN writes:

I mean, can a player have a year more intriguing than A-Rod has? It began in the offseason with Joe Torre’s book, in which the former Yankees manager said teammates called Alex Rodriguez “A-Fraud” and felt he was obsessed with Derek Jeter. That furor had just about died down when an SI reporter revealed that he had tested positive for steroids. After that came hip surgery that knocked Rodriguez out for the first month of the season. Then he homered on the first pitch after he came off the disabled list. Then he struggled for a while (his batting average was .207 in late June) before finishing strong to hit 30 home runs and drive in 100 runs (levels he’s reached for 12 consecutive seasons).

Caple’s account omits A-Rod’s ignominious affair with Madonna, wherein he cheated on his wife and children, and subsequently divorced.

Steroids. Infidelity. Dishonesty.

All of these transgressions are of no import to society’s fleeting memory. Society can only remember bad things for so long. In time, everyone seems to get better. Michael Vick will be no exception. Within a year or two, he will likely be a starting quarterback somewhere. I need not mention names like Michael Jackson or Roman Polanski to explore how society is willing to whitewash the past and forget. And when a celebrity or athlete impresses people, society’s amnesia kicks into warp drive. A-Rod’s ascendancy and acceptance in New York this season is exhibit A.

ESPN also reports that Marc McGwire, once an American hero, but later disgraced in the steroid scandal, will be returning to the St. Louis Cardinals as an assistant coach. Society has such a fleeting memory.

I won’t even address the denial of some Red Sox fans about whether David Ortiz and others took steroids. But Red Sox fans are in a league of their own. Currently, that league is in the offseason.

So let’s go Yankees, but let’s not forget about the failings of our athletes.