Alex Rodriguez did steroids and now everybody has an opinion about it. I'm just a lowly blogger, and I have my opinion (it's sort of a big deal but probably not as big a deal as everyone is saying), so of course professional baseball players and analysts -- people renowned for their playing ability and/or analytical insights -- are going to want to share their views, too, even if at this point it's utterly impossible to say anything interesting about the topic.
Enter Cal Ripken. Ripken is a man that must be listened to. He's Cal freaking Ripken. But his viewpoint on the matter is about as well thought out as I was during my 10th Guinness last Friday:
The former Oriole said a "cloud of steroids is hanging over baseball, and I'd like that to go away."
"For sure, people are going to look at them differently because of that, whether it's the Hall of Fame or not," Ripken said. "It's going to affect everyone's decisions: How real are their numbers? And as soon as you get tied to that, whether it's an asterisk or not, people have an asterisk in their minds."
Ah yes, the famed mental asterisk. The sign of the age. When people stopped pretending steroids weren't real, and the boogeyman wouldn't get them, and decided to handle things like adults by placing an arbitrary symbol to indicate an uneven playing ground when no evidence necessarily supports that notion. This is what is going to define Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez, and it doesn't matter what anyone thinks or says. The asterisk is in your brains, people. The horrible thing about it is not that you are obliged to act the part, but that it is impossible to avoid joining in.