Today the news broke about Mark McGwire’s steroid use during his playing career. I can’t really say that I’m surprised by the news, but it’s hard not to be disappointed. Joshua’s been watching this old VHS tape I had about the ’98 home run chase. So he knows all about Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa; he can tell you how many home runs they hit and how they both broke Roger Maris’ record. But he saw the news report tonight and asked me what it was all about, so I had to tell him.
This summer, we saw the Cards play the Dodgers in St. Louis. Every time Manny Ramirez came to the plate to hit, just about everybody in the stadium started booing. Joshua wanted to know what that was about, so I told him that Manny had cheated. I told him that he had taken some medicine that he wasn’t supposed to and that medicine gave him an unfair advantage in the game. Tonight, I had to tell Joshua that McGwire had done the same thing. The look on his face when I told him almost broke my heart. “Why would he do something like that?” he asked me.
We were almost done talking about it when Joshua asked me another question: “What about Albert Pujols? Does he cheat, Daddy?” I knew it wouldn’t take long for this to happen. Joshua idolizes Pujols, more so than any other player. He knows Pujols is one of the best players in the game today, so naturally, he’s curious to know whether or not he’s a “cheater”, too. Honestly, I don’t know what to tell him these days. I can’t help but think a little of my son’s innocence was lost today. But sooner or later, I’m going to have to accept the fact that my children have to learn to deal with disappointment just like the rest of us.
And that’s a tough lesson for anybody to learn.