While baseball fans have continued to pile criticism upon Alex Rodriguez, the St. Louis Cardinals’ Jhonny Peralta has escaped their fire – earning a trip to the All-Star Game.
With the Steroid Era still looming in the memories of the baseball world, those who were caught up in the various scandals over the past decade-plus continue to draw harsh criticisms from fans, media and Major League Baseball, at-large.
However, in those same circles, a dubious double-standard has emerged.
While Jhonny Peralta will enjoy his first-career start in Tuesday night’s All-Star Game, New York Yankees’ slugger Alex Rodriguez will be watching from home, after fans failed to vote him in, despite a bounce back year from the 38-year-old infielder and DH.
A-Rod is tied for sixth in the American League with 18 home runs in the season’s first-half, also ranking in the top 10 in terms of runs batted in at 51. He could realistically eclipse the century-mark in RBI for the first time since 2010, while simultaneously leading the Yankees to the postseason.
Under the Arch in St. Louis, Peralta has emerged as the clear-cut offensive leader for a St. Louis Cardinals team that has seen its division lead fall to a mere 2 1/2 games over the surging Pittsburgh Pirates.
The 33-year-old Peralta is batting .298/.355/.473 heading in to the season’s second-half, adding 13 home runs and 46 RBI in the process. He’s been good for 2.7 wins above replacement, which eclipses Rodriguez’s 2.3 WAR, while coming up in the clutch on more than on occasion for manager Mike Matheny‘s club.
So while Peralta was voted as the National League’s starting shortstop this year, those same fans have continued to attack Rodriguez. Sure, the circumstances surrounding their respective PED usage are a bit different, but what it all boils down to is this: both of these guys cheated.
The moral of the story is this: both players cheated, yet fans love Peralta and continue to loathe Rodriguez.
Yet, here we are, with Peralta being lauded as a hero in St. Louis, while Rodriguez seems doomed to fall by the wayside in the final years of his career, regardless of his performance on the field.
The last time A-Rod earned an All-Star selection was back in 2011, when he entered the break with 13 homers and 52 runs batted in before losing the rest of the season shortly after the Midsummer Classic.
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Again, despite outperforming those statistics so far this season, he’s stuck on the sidelines. I’m not exactly an ardent supporter of Rodriguez, but I find the double-standards employed by fans troubling, to say the least.
It’s splitting hairs to differentiate the extent and manner in which accused PED users broke the rules – and the fans’ trust.
Players like Peralta and the Seattle Mariners’ Nelson Cruz – both of whom used performance-enhancing substances – seem to have hardly been affected by the fallout, while players like Ryan Braun (who, coincidentally was named to the All-Star team to replace Matt Holliday) and A-Rod have seen their legacies dragged through the dirt without fail.
This season has made one thing abundantly clear to me: if you seem like a good guy and stay out of the spotlight while using PEDs, you’re probably in the clear.
However, if you’re a superstar-caliber player, expect the worst: it’s probably what you’re going to get.