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COLUMN: A Malat Musing: Baseball Should Lead the Way

Updated: 05/06/2014 1:41 PM
Created: 08/10/2013 12:35 PM KSTP.com
By: Phil Malat

“Mr. Selig Looked at me and said, ‘I want to know one thing.  Did you bet on baseball?  I looked him in the eye.   “Yes sir, I did bet on baseball.’  ‘How often?’ he asked.  ‘Four or five time a week,’ I replied. ‘Why?’ he asked.  ‘I didn’t think I’d get caught,’ I said.”  ~Pete Rose~

It is hard to say where and when it all began but it is now a full blown epidemic.

President Bill Clinton lied about his relationship with Jennifer flowers on “60 Minutes” when seeking the presidency in 1992.    On December 19, 1998 he was impeached by the House of Representatives for perjury and obstruction of justice surrounding his inappropriate sexual relationships with Monica Lewinski and Paula Jones.  

Certainly we hoped this to be a rare occurrence.  Ah, but enter Anthony Weiner.  He lied about his posting of lewd pictures on the internet before finally admitting he had done so.  Like President Nixon, and unlike President Clinton, Weiner chose to vacate his elected position with a list of mea-culpas that assured us this would never reoccur.  Then, Like President Clinton, Weiner continued his lurid activities and is; once again, running for public office with what he believes to be a reasonable expectation of winning.  

Rare occurrence number three.   Baseball’s 2011 National League MVP, Ryan Braun, lied about his drug use to everyone in sight in 2012.  On July 22, 2013, Braun accepted, without appeal, a 65 game suspension for both his drug use and his lying about it.   

At this point it is best to skip all the juicy details surrounding so many others, such as; Newt Gingrich, former North Carolina Senator John Edwards, basketball star Colby Bryant, Arnold Swarzenaggar, a host of unfaithful, dishonest CEO’s who lied, not to mention the deplorable lack of integrity witnessed by our financial institutions which brought us to the brink of another financial depression.

Those who still value (trite?) characteristics like integrity and honesty are now asking; can this be the new America?  Is this the future world for our children and grandchildren?   Toward that end we may wish to consider the following.  

A recent CBS poll revealed that 86% of those questioned believe congress is doing a poor job. However, 50% of those polled think their representatives are doing a good job.  As more congressional districts become strongholds for political parties the stalemates and polarization will certainly continue, particularly if we refuse to make any significant changes when we vote.  But, we have concluded it’s the other fella’s responsibility to get his act together - not ours.  

Also, in 2012, the country was treated to overwhelming and enthusiastic Democratic support of President Clinton as he vigorously campaigned for President Obama.   Meanwhile, both Monica Lewinski and Linda Tripp are viewed unfavorably and, of course, many blame the House that sported a very slim Republican majority after losing seats to Democrats in the 1998 elections for President Clinton’s impeachment.  All those other people were responsible for the Presidents embarrassment.

And let’s not forget that none of those bankers that brought us to the brink of financial collapse have been held accountable for their actions because they didn’t break any laws.

It will now be interesting to see what level of integrity remains in baseball once the suspensions of the 13 players for drug use are completed.  There is some hope here.  

San Francisco Giants centerfielder Melky Cabrera won the All-Star Game MVP Award in 2012.  Thirty days later he was suspended for 50 games for drug violations.  Cabrera had also collected enough at bats to claim the National League batting title in 2012 but voluntarily relinquished it.  When Cabrera’s suspension ended the Giants refused to reinstate him even though they were in the midst of a battle to secure the National League Peanut.  The Giants went on to win The World Series without Cabrera – without their best player.  That’s organizational integrity.

Baseball ended gambling within the game with a no-tolerance policy of expulsion.  Their hard line with Joe Jackson and Pete Rose has all but guaranteed no such nonsense will ever reoccur.  Baseball needs to adopt the same had line if it is serious about solving its drug problem and we as a nation must do exactly exact the same thing.  

We must also begin to hold ourselves accountable for the continuation of this despicable behavior.  It is time to STOP cheering these individuals and time to exile them by attaching the social stigma to them they have earned and deserve.  Yes - we must always forgive but never forget.  Forgetting and the absence of stiff consequences only provides for more of the same unsavory activities.  We must begin this process soon if we ever hope to quell this epidemic.   The evidence is undeniable.

Phil Malat is a columnist for KSTP.com.


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