A slap at liberty…by John Brattain
February 11, 2009
OK now take your dominant hand and place it palm first in front of your head.
Got it? Good.
Now let’s use it and get a grip.
Imagine the following:
You wake up thinking somewhat fuzzily: “Wow, that was some party eh?” (Yes, we party in Canada.)
Well, maybe you couldn’t remember all the details but what the heck—nobody died right? Besides, at least you remembered to go to your doctor’s appointment later this afternoon.
A knock on the door; there are two men in suits and ask if you’ve ever used illegal narcotics.
Indignant, you deny such an accusation … you’re no saint to be sure but some lines aren’t to be crossed. For all your faults you view yourself as a solid citizen and try to live by the golden rule (although you do indulge yourself in imagining certain exquisite tortures on those refugees from natural selection who never learned the proper operation of their motor vehicles).
However, they show the result of a blood and urinalysis taken several years ago that prove that you ingested an illegal drug.
You have no recollection of ever doing so—but there is the evidence. Suddenly the logical question arises: just where did they get their hands on the results of one of your blood and urine tests? You later discover that your doctor’s office was raided by a law enforcement agency for an unrelated investigation.
What ever happened to doctor-patient confidentiality?
Hey, they were investigating a serious matter and when going through the records they came across the results of your tests. Suddenly you learn that the IRS/Revenue Canada wish to audit your tax returns for the last few years, seeing as you might be a disreputable sort (you did ingest an illegal substance and therefore must in league with the forces of darkness—that is just the way it is). After all, there’s no way of knowing whether you’re selling the type of narcotic found in your system to minors, and it doesn‘t hurt to check to see if your income matches your job description, right? Surely giving up a couple of civil liberties is a small price to pay to make sure the children are kept safe from drug dealers.
Uh oh … nobody likes being audited.
Since you were stupid enough to dispose of some of the receipts from years back since you’d never need them again and besides, you might have taken a small liberty here or there. It was harmless (heck, everybody does it), you needed the money more than the government, and c’mon,how can anyone steal their own money?
Suddenly you’re hit with a big tax bill plus interest; money is tight. Do you hire a lawyer and fight?
Just when you didn’t think it could any worse, someone you confided in happens to know your employer, things get embellished in the retelling, and the boss feels that it’s wrong that to have a drug user and a tax cheat on the payroll and reacts accordingly.
You’re out of a job.
You’re informed that you may be charged with providing false information to a government official—after all, you answered that you had never taken drugs, but your test came up positive—that one party perhaps?
You’re up the creek.
Now to add salt to the wound, your neighbous and some of your relatives are unsympathetic—serves ya right for using illegal drugs and cheating on your income tax; the best you can do under the circumstances is apply for legal aid. When all is said and done, you have to pay back taxes plus interest, you won’t go to jail but you now have a criminal record.
But, but … you’re an honest, law-abiding citizen. How could this have happened?
Well, among the players that tested positive in the 2003 survey testing, there may have been a small number of false positives and a couple of players who did take a tainted supplement. However, regardless of any potential extenuating circumstances, in the minds of the general public, they are hard core juicers, who probably went trick or treating for testosterone, ate Winstrol and eggs for breakfast, grilled Trenbolone sandwiches for lunch, served testosterone-bone steak for supper and washed it down with “Clear.”
To admit to anything less makes them liars; to defend themselves only solidifies their guilt. Their careers will be irrevocably altered if they’re still in the league, their families will have to endure the barbs of folks in desperate need of a life and self-affirmation at the expense of their betters.
Serves ‘em right for being ballplayers, right? They should’ve known what they were taking into their bodies 24/7/365; they should be able to recall what they have done every moment of their lives and if they don’t, they deserve what’s coming to them.
How dare they make more in a year than you’ll make in the next 20; for playing a game too—the nerve!
Make no mistake—if it can happen to them, it can happen to you. This is the real story in the recent A-Rod saga; it’s the story that will get little coverage in the media’s schadenfreude that Slappy McBluelips has finally been outed for the fraud that he is (in the small minds of many); that finally, after all these years he will receive the punishment he deserved for having the audacity of accepting a proffered quarter billion dollars instead of saying “Let the poor billionaire keep his money, give me less, a lot less so the people who will boo my sorry ass when my skills start to slip can feel better about their miserable little lives” eight years ago.
Just remember this: when a promise or confidence has been broken, and you’re the victim of the arbitrary and capricious act of another, that it was you that applauded this approach to things. It’s your own petard on which you will be hoisted.
Just pray that you’ve been a Boy (or Girl) Scout your entire life, never ingested a single illegal chemical during adolescence (or adulthood), never cheated on a test or homework assignment at school, never broke a single traffic law, always paid every nickel of tax owed, never told a car dealer or real estate agent about a better offer that didn’t exist, never took an unauthorized extended break from your job or never downloaded copyrighted materials without paying otherwise you’re:
a) A lying fraud and cheat that should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law without mercy or sympathy.
Bottom line: major league baseball players are not the ones you should be offended by in all this; they are no danger to your liberty. But the actions of the government in all this are; as Fyodor Dostoevsky once said: “Nothing is easier than to denounce the evildoer; nothing is more difficult than to understand him” and we should understand that the evil we condemn in ballplayers is simply our jealousy mutating the seeing of our humanity in them.
The story that you need to know is that your privacy is no longer assured and hopefully you lived your life in such a way that you knew that this day would come.
Our good friend, and THT stalwart, John Brattain passed away on March 24, 2009. John was a prolific writer, whose work can also be read at Sympatico/MSN Sports and Baseball Digest Daily. John's work was also featured at USA Today, MLBtalk, ESPN Insider, Baseball Prospectus, The Baseball Analysts and The Baseball Journals. Never afraid to express himself in any medium, he was also a frequent radio speaker.
<< Return to Article