Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Trust Falls

The cat is out of the bag; the best player in baseball for the last dozen years -- Alex Rodriguez -- used performance enhancing drugs at some point. I say "at some point," because, well, I find myself unable to trust his half-hearted confession. It's difficult to trust public statements by clientele of Scott Boras in general to begin with, but the infidelity caveat applies here: he who has cheated before may well cheat again.

That is to say, Rodriguez is now copping to the fact that he's used banned performance-enhancing substances, and this makes his previous statements of categorical denial into blatant falsehoods. Therefore, why should anyone decide to now take him at the specific details he offers -- or doesn't offer -- in the interview he gave to Peter Gammons. Was the use limited to his time with the Texas Rangers? Was he truly unaware of what substances were going into his body?

The oblivion defense is disturbing. Not because it's so unlikely, but rather, if it's actually true that so many baseball players, in their youthful naivete and ambition, were wholly unconcerned with what substances were being injected into their asses, then I could've had quite the sex life in my late teens by posing as a sports trainer and hanging around spring training to offer experimental -- but totally organic! -- suppliments. No pain, no gain, eh slugger?

More disheartening to the baseball fans and purists is that Rodriguez and Bonds are just two of over one hundred players who tested positive in the 2003 testing conducted by Major League Baseball. How many more giants of the game were tainted? Will we ever find out the full list of names? Do we even really want to know anymore?

In recently discussing the topic with an acquaintence, he poignantly quoted: "Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you."

It is nearly impossible to wrap my mind around the magic of the 2004 Red Sox if it were to suddenly surface that Manny or Ortiz or Millar was on that list. It would cheapen what is, to me, the greatest sports comeback story in history. It would cheapen the World Series win. And yet, I think I'm willing to risk that considerable loss for the sake of the truth.

I'd rather know.

As for Rodriguez, my annoyance is endless. His talent is unquestionable, "PED's" -- as they're now apparently to be referred -- be damned, and he has an excellent shot to overtake Barry Bonds as the official career home run leader. Much as it pains a Red Sox fan to embrace a Yankee, prior to the recent news of the failed drug test, I had sort of a soft spot for Rodriguez.

Though I don't know all the details of his personal life, every one that does occasionally surface indicates that the guy is a head case with talent only matched by various layers of insecurity. Reviled by fans of his former team, reviled by New Yorkers even when he was putting up numbers that would've been awe-inspiring from anyone else, quietly disliked by teammates and recently thrown under the bus in book form by Joe Torre, Rodriguez was something of a tragic hero in my eyes.

A total asshole whose talent shined regardless of a persona that comes off as, to be kind, less than endearing. In previously believing that he was clean, and that Bonds was not, I considered Rodriguez to be a strange if not bittersweet salvation for the purity of baseball. I am a fan of baseball before I am a fan of the Red Sox, and I similarly value integrity over results. This being the case, it was easier to digest a jerk of a Yankee atop baseball's most hallowed career record list than to stomach the resillience of Bonds's farce.

The dilemma is no longer gently weighted by a hint of righteousness, it is simply the choice between a rock and a hard place at this point, demanding that we continue to tip our respective teams' caps to Hammerin' Hank. With Alex Rodriguez no longer truly eligible for the crown, the search begins for someone who actually has a shot at the heights once he's done re-setting the "record."

Lucky for me, another recently-started search for "Number One" will be much more pleasant. Though I had embraced Excelsior as my favorite restaurant through its closing, I had, regrettably, never had the pleasure of dining at the establishment which is routinely ranked as the tops in New England, Boston's own L'Espalier.

L'Espalier, according to Babel Fish, is French for "The rib stall." Which is not actually helpful. A rib stall, according to my attempts to translate English to English, is "the name of a form of Arbre, generally fruit-bearing, obtained by a technique of size making it possible to have a tree with form punt. The technique was popular with the Moyen-âge in Europe to decorate the walls, but the creation of the technique is older and could date from the ancient Egypt. The word rib stall refers to the lattice on which the seedling is pressed at the time of its growth."

I confess, I was kind of hoping it would translate to something promisory of a grand eating experience, like "delicious explosion" or "Excelsior." But I'm glad I've at least cleared up what it means. Which is lattice. For fruit-bearing trees. Brilliant.

Anyhow, I'll be assessing their fare two weeks from today, joining Hanah for their "Cheese Tuesday" traditions. Per their website, the theme for the installation we'll be experiencing is "Soft Comforts." C'est la brie!

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