Phelps/A-Rod Railroaded

Aquarian Weekly 2/18/09 REALITY CHECK


Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. – Aldous Huxley

A-Rod shamed the game. – Bud Selig, Commissioner of Baseball and architect of the shutting down of the entire sport and eventual cancellation of the World Series in 1994

Breakfast of ChampionsWhenever the shit hits the fan in the arena of sport, I miss Muhammad Ali. I miss his defiance, elegance and grit. Mostly, I miss his balls, those massive steel things he would wave in the face of opponents, the press, Howard Cosell, or the United States government, as in 1966 when Ali refused what was likely to be a pathetic dog-and-pony sideshow for the Pentagon in South East Asia, tantamount to an Elvis tour of American celebrity. That’s how Ali saw his 1960 Gold Medal. It was how he shed his Christian moniker for queer religious fervor. Ali told the U.S. Army and its soon-to-be disastrous Viet Nam campaign to walk. It cost him his title, four years of his prime, and what all ego-mad jocks crave, mass love and admiration.

What do you think Ali would think now of the vilification of Alex Rodriquez and Michael Phelps in the shadow of so much corruption, greed and hyperbole? These incoherent rambling apologies for drug use; one to enhance performance in a sport drenched in chemical experimentation for more than thirty years, the other to get high like nearly every other twenty-something kid. You think maybe Ali would have pointed out the hypocrisy of it all, more than half a century of drug use in every professional and amateur sport both diminishing and enhancing performances. You think Ali may have pointed out that the drug laws in this country are wrong-headed and atavistic? Or you think maybe he might have shed light on the millions of dollars earned on the blood and sweat of young men, many of whom never asked to be gods?

My guess is yes to all of the above. Ali would not have gone down quietly, like a docile performing seal bowing to the disingenuous moral outrage from a braying fan base, which cares only about winning no matter how it gets done. He certainly wouldn’t take it from those who clamor for Herculean athletic achievement even when its fabrications are patently obvious. And then there is the predictably brain numbing sports media that loves to shake the collective head and wag an accusing finger while enticing us with images of savage violence, self-promoting theatrics and juvenile behavior over and over and over and over again. And of course there is, as always, the sometimes faceless but always bottom line bankrollers of these fiascos who dare to engender sympathy for being “duped”.

I think Ali would have found the ironical humor in words like “cheat”, “fraud”, “behavior”, and “besmirching” tumbling forth from the holier-than-thou keepers of high-tech showbiz that has long been tarnished by decades of illegal and unconscionable activities. How in the world does the Olympic Committee, one of the most corrupt and disastrously run institutions in the world, get off suspending a kid for smoking pot? Where does anyone from Major League Baseball, proud abusers of civil rights and openly celebrated indentured servitude for half a century, get off judging its players for steroid use?

You would think these guys raped puppies or planned the overthrow of the free world.

Ali would have been thrilled to tell you that the ones who cry the loudest are the guiltiest. They are all too willing to cast shame as far as they can to avoid the collateral damage. This is how things go in the American sport landscape, where boys become millionaires playing a goofy sport we’re all supposed to worship as religion, hand over our money and attention to as if robots so we can claim dominion over its history and ownership of its participants.

You would think these guys raped puppies or planned the overthrow of the free world. It’s goddamned jocks doing jockey things like bending rules to get an edge or blowing off steam: Gaylord Perry spit-balling his way into the Hall of Fame or the 1951 N.Y. Giants using telescopes to spy on opposing team’s signs or Doc Gooden and Lawrence Taylor jacked up on mountains of blow. Many wonder what a keg of beer and a pound of bratwurst could have done to assist the Bambino’s home run orgy in 1927 or if Doc Ellis’ famous acid-drenched no-hitter would add to the annals of baseball lore.

You know if Ali had been any of those guys, let alone Michael Phelps, he would have said, “Shit yeah, I smoke dope, and guess what? I have more gold medals than any human. Fuck Weaties, get a hold of some Master Afghani Kush and you too can achieve greatness!”

Lord knows Ali would not have let the powers that be trample all over his civil rights, leaking anonymous tests used by the most powerful union in the nation to keep the richest sport on the planet from its lab rats. He may have been inclined to look one of those locker room groupies with a pen and pad right in the eye and ask them, “What would you do without me and the New York fucking Yankees sad sack? My guess is you’d be bagging groceries in a beer fog wishing your parents would add a separate heat zone to the basement.”

People always ask me why I name Ali and Joe Namath as my lasting sports heroes. Ali is well documented, and Namath will forever have a place in my heart for all he accomplished on and off the field evolving the landscape of pro sport, its celebrity and its transcendence in pop culture, but also because he refused to eat shit. After almost single-handedly achieving the merger of two gigantic money-printing leagues by his sheer greatness and unmatched star power, the newly forged conglomerate demanded he sell his bar on the Upper East Side of Manhattan because known mobsters allegedly frequented it. Namath told the National Football League to go fuck itself and retired at the pinnacle of his career. Of course the league came begging for his return, because like A-Rod, it was nothing but a bunch of slobbering brutes ramming themselves together in Neanderthal scrums without him.

I guess it is too much to ask for titans like Ali and Namath to be around when the next round of petty bullshit is blown up to symbolize the end of civilization, but the saddest part of it all is this slave-like mentality to trade truth for the almighty buck and another fifteen minutes of fame.

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