The news today leaking that Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez were on performance enhancing drugs in 2003 reveals more and more the complicated and often interwoven nature of drugs in Major League Baseball over the last 20 years. And creates a sideways glance of people we’ve grow to respect, if not love. As a fan of baseball, it’s disheartening to know that many of the results of the past era or so are false or at least have an indelible stain on them. Simply placing an asterisk on the home run baseball is an insult as it seems to me—a completely separate result—from the natural result gained in a sport characterized as a game of inches.
Yeah, I’m irked. Bugged you might say.
The most difficult and deflating part of the “Steroid Era” in baseball, or the “Festina Affair” in cycling take away the fans ability to gauge what is real. The athletes who take part in this doping façade destroy any semblance of reality for the fans who deify their acts. Doping scandals in the Tour De France are famous for negating a dramatic result, making pretend that we can erase our memory of what we saw. But we can’t. It’s some hybrid third by-product of the truth.
This same dynamic of the lies of “performance enhancement” exist in the business world where there’s an insatiable desire for even those who “don’t need to” to cheat and get fantastically unrealistic results. Watch The Smartest Guys In The Room, the movie about Enron and the company’s fabled financial results that were “too good to be true” in the late 1990s. Well, as it turns out, those results were too good to be true. The fallout was on the investor who commits her faith to the company’s approach and results and the respectable companies who struggled and foamed at the mouth to have the similar results that the now-defunct energy company reached. All to find out it was a disconnected reality.
How do we make sense of business results that were little more than gold dust and professional leagues where the only thing professional was the way in which they obscured people’s view of their cheating. (… Getting caught with a “Whizzinator” marks one as a rank amateur. Wouldn’t you think?)