No Shame in Dodgertown
When an executive at a major corporation is accused of wrongdoing, you can hear the public outrage from one end of the country to the other. If that exec turns out to be an oil man, an auto maker, a banker or a pharmaceutical guy, look out! Then the lynch mobs really come out, in full force demanding the death penalty or at least imprisonment for life. The media delightfully joins in the lynching. No mercy. No quarter given. OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!
So why is it that this outrage doesn’t extend into sports? How come cheaters like Manny Ramirez are just fine with so many people? Why aren’t the fans angry? More than that, why isn’t the Dodger organization angry? They got snookered. They paid a fortune for this player, and he turned out to be a cheater—taking performance enhancing drugs, knowingly defying the rules of baseball. And there is no doubt that he did.
Not only is Ramirez not being shunned, he is actually being treated like the victim of this whole thing. People think, I don’t know, maybe he was just sitting around minding his own business one day when some Columbian drug dealers snuck up on him and forced the junk into him. He didn’t want it, they made him do it. Poor Manny.
The fans got snookered too. They should be mad as hell. Thousands of loyal Dodger fans bought tickets for games thinking they would see Ramirez play, and now they won’t. He wasn’t injured. He wasn’t traded. It wasn’t an act of God that has deprived the fans of their beloved Manny, it was an act of selfish cheating. Cheating by the player that so many kids looked up to. Why aren’t the fans mad as hell? When Ramirez took those illegal drugs, he wasn’t only cheating major league baseball and the Dodgers, he was cheating his fans.
The entire Dodger organization has been very quiet on the whole mess. Dodger owner Frank McCourt has never come out strongly against Ramirez. As a matter of fact, McCourt seems to be perfectly okay with the idea that Ramirez might well be playing in the upcoming All-Star game. When he was asked about Ramirez’s potential as the fourth-leading vote-getter among National League outfielders to appear in this year’s game, McCourt said, “Do I want to see him? Sure, if he gets voted in. It’d be a great honor.”
This low-key attitude of the Dodgers makes me think that maybe they have something more to hide. Maybe they knew Ramirez was taking the stuff all along. Maybe they know of other players in their club who are still taking steroids. I don’t know. But, usually, when an organization takes the zipped-lip approach to a scandal, it generally means that there is a lot more going on then we know. I hope I’m wrong.
In a larger sense, this is just another example of what I call the lack of shame in our society. Once upon a time, when people did bad or wrong things and got caught, they would feel some degree of shame. They were ashamed of themselves. It was shame too that would keep a lot of people from doing wrong in the first place. That shame factor is missing in much of our daily lives.
I first became aware of the lack of shame during the Clinton/ Monica Lewinski scandal. It was clear to me that Clinton had absolutely no shame at all (even after the DNA evidence proved beyond a doubt what he, and she, did in the Oval Office of the White House). The man felt no remorse, no shame. And neither did many of his apologists, including many senators and congressmen.
And this lack of shame extends into so many other aspects of our lives. There seems to be no shame related to how people look in public. Pants pulled down almost to the groin, fat, sloppy, exposed midriffs, dirty-looking hair, multi-tattoos and holes pierced in faces are commonplace sights across the globe. I remember feeling ashamed to be seen in public if my hair wasn’t combed or my shirt wasn’t tucked into my trousers.
Using bad manners or dirty words in public used to be a cause for shame too. Not anymore. I’ve heard the crudest language being uttered by teenage girls in supermarkets and malls, words that grown men in the old days would never have said outside of a prison or army barracks. You look at the faces of these kids and you just know that they don’t even think they’re saying anything offensive. No shame.
There are so many examples of the lack of shame in today’s culture that I could write a book on it. Matter of fact, if you add up all the times I’ve covered this subject in my columns over the years it would probably make two or three books.
I just hope the baseball fans still have enough sense of pride and integrity not to vote for a cheater to play in the All-Star game. If they do, it really would be a crying shame.