Maybe its just me (and it typically is), but I long ago stopped thinking sports would teach lessons like right and wrong and ethical and dishonest.
Thus, Guillermo Motas return to the Giants as they prepare for the most difficult road trip of their lives (except for every other one theyve ever had) moves me not in the slightest. Hes a serial PED user, hes done his time twice, hes eligible again, and the Giants have re-retained his services.
So you go be outraged. I dont have it in me. I've already read the book, and I have the ending memorized.
I neither defend nor condemn his return to the bullpen. His history of cutting corners so loud that even Major League Baseballs testers can hear the sawing may tell you something about his character, or maybe even the Giants corporate view, but all it tells me is what we long ago should have known:
Sports is about getting by. Its about doing whatever you think you need to do at the moment, and worrying about possible consequences later. Its about looking out for No. 1, or in the alternative, trying to figure out how to screw No. 2.
What it isnt, is a guide to living. It is at its essence the most egalitarian of pursuits, making as few moral stands as it can get away with in pursuit of a championship ring, trophy, or endorsement.
Now dont get us wrong here. Any athlete or coach who prefers the ethical path is fine by us. Were not against fair play, charitable instincts, devotion, loyalty, empathy, a basic sense of right and wrong . . . we frankly prefer them all to the alternatives.
But we dont go to sports to find them. In fact, as the money to entertain us grows, the pressure to do the pragmatic thing grows with it. There will be no forgiveness for the Giants if they end up a pitcher short in Game 162, and they know it.
And you know it. We all know it. Why anyone would think otherwise is the mind-boggler.
Or have you not heard the defenses for Lance Armstrong, or before that Joe Paterno, or before that name-your-favorite-team-player-or-entity? Sports is about results at any cost, as long as that cost can be defended later. It has always been thus, and the fact that is more brazen now only means youre paying more attention to the brass.
But lets go beyond that for a moment and ask a more existential question, because we know you like those. When is an athlete to be let off the hook for prior misdeeds?
Think about that for a moment before we give you the answer.
Okay, here it is.
1. When he or she has served his punishment as mandated and agreed upon by the employer and the athletes union.
2. When he or she can help your favorite team win.
3. When he or she is your favorite sports figure from days or years gone by.
You want a different answer? Go follow entertainment. No, wait, that wont work. Try business. No? How about politics? No again? Then maybe pipe-fitting. Oh, hell, you know the deal.
You are let off the hook when someone feels like letting you off the hook, based solely on whether that someone thinks you can help them do something, or feel good about themselves. It is an entirely capricious matter. Some people get let up, and others dont not by virtue of morality, but by the vicissitudes of practicality.
In short, Guillermo Mota is back with the Giants because the Giants need his fastball. Why you would think otherwise is an exercise in the art of the daft. The Giants arent for or against PEDs theyre for winning and against losing. Like every other sports team ever.
If you are of the mind that sports should be clean here and forever, change the penalties. Players are banned for life, and every team that employs a player who gets caught gets fined a percentage of its annual gross revenues. That way, nobody has an incentive to chase down the perfect testosterone martini.
Sure, that wont be a measure of ethics or morality but of brute force. But isnt that truly and realistically the essence of sports in America, from the owners suite to the trainers room?