Counter/Point: Role Models

Counter/Point

You’re Role Models, Face Your Responsibilities

Abe Froman, PTA Chairman

Baseball players may not want to be role models, but role models they are. We’d like to think that policemen, firemen, and our local chamber of commerce members are the people our children look up to, but that’s not the case. Rarely have I seen a crowd of a thousand children chant a civil servant’s name and be cheered by the slightest acknowledgement. No, baseball players are role models to children, and they have a responsibility to carry themselves with class and dignity both on the diamond and off.

Using a legal steroid may improve a player’s performance in some ways, but is that extra 20 home runs worth having millions of children emulate their hero by shoplifting androsteriene off the shelves of their local GNC? I certainly don’t believe so. And maybe fighting, doing drugs, and chasing groupies is a fine release for the stress of their well-compensated jobs — I certainly wouldn’t know if they were — but think of the problems society faces if the best of our athletic talent, those who demonstrate grace and dedication on the field can’t even manage that modicum of self-control. Should little leaguers change into street clothes and assualt parents in the bleachers? I hope not!

And I believe that we, as fans and supporters of the game, have a right to demand that players behave better. If I buy a team’s cap, I shouldn’t have to worry if my players will chase my kids down on Halloween, or batter the sweet local girl they married. Every ticket, be it bought by man, woman or child, should be a reminder to each and every player that their actions serve as inspiration for good deeds or crimes, and they have a responsibility to be good examples.

You’d Do It Too — Admit It!

‘Albert’, ballplayer

Get off my freakin’ back!

All I want to do is play the game, smell the cut grass, feel the sun on my face, then depart the park in my Lamborgini, reaching speeds of 120 mph while shotgunning a Coors light. Is that so wrong?

Listen, there are plenty of role models in baseball. Like, um,…Griffey! He hardly ever swears too much, and he’s a good example of how you should speak up when your bosses are really crappy. And that Ripken guy. If he wasn’t such an unbelievable Howdy-Doody, even your teenage kids would like him! And Paul O’Neill – okay, the pouting and whining and Gatorade cooler abuse every time he can’t do the job may not be such a good example, but he’s got a good, All-American Irish name, as does Troy O’Leary.

Fact is, kids love me because I’m a cranky, antisocial half-wit. How else do you explain the popularity of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin? They imagine me with a fridge full of Heineken, cupboard full of steroids and coke, and all the broads money can buy. Hell, that’s how you imagine me. The reality is that I’m so addicted to muscle-building that I don’t do anything but the steroids, leaving me without the ability to please a woman anyway. That’s why I’m so damn mean.

Still, other players like me fine, because I always say “hello” and “how you doin'” and show up for their occasional charity photo-op, which is more than they get from their own team’s front office personnel. The statheads and “just win, baby” freaks love me most of all. They don’t give a damn if I put on street clothes, head on up to the grandstand and kidney-punch a heckler or two, as long as the suspension doesn’t keep me from hitting 45 homers.

It’s not even my fault. If Major League Baseball hadn’t drafted me fresh out of high school, I could have easily gotten a baseball scholarship at a damn good college, where I’d’ve loaded up on easy business courses. Think about it: with my baseball-earned ivy league MBA, I’d be your boss right now. There’s your role model, buddy.

If you want “role models,” there are plenty of ’em, but think about this: Just why is Mark McGwire divorced? Why did Mariah drop Derek Jeter so fast, when she previously married a womanizing, cradle-robbing record exec? Why do you never see Alex Rodriguez with a woman at all?

‘Cause they’re wimps, that’s why. You want a role model that Dad could take in a fight (excepting McGwire, but you secretly suspect you could break his foot by stepping on it hard, don’t you?).

Hypocrite.

Originally published September 24, 1998

Published March 15, 2005

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