Todd Hartley: I’m With Stupid |

Todd Hartley: I’m With Stupid

Todd Hartley
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

It’s hard to decide which was the dumber sports story making the rounds earlier this week between the Michael Phelps bong photo and the Alex Rodriguez steroid saga. Both have devolved into such carnivals of stupidity that, under normal circumstances, either would be an excellent choice for the most moronic story of the year. The fact that both occurred in the same week is like some sort of once-in-a-lifetime harmonic convergence of idiocy.

If you’ve spent the last week on the International Space Station or don’t own a TV, computer, radio or ears, what happened was this: First, a photo appeared in a British tabloid of Phelps, the greatest swimmer in history, smoking from a water pipe, or “bong,” at a party at the University of South Carolina back in November. That story was knocked from the headlines, though, when it was revealed later in the week that Rodriguez, one of the finest baseball players ever, tested positive for steroids in 2003 while playing for the Texas Rangers.

So was Phelps stupid for smoking pot? Well, yes, but no more so than millions of other kids his age. He’s 23 years old, and he was at a college party. I don’t want to shock anyone, but sometimes there’s marijuana to be found at parties like that, and sometimes 23-year-olds smoke it. No, what made Phelps stupid was the fact that he allowed himself to be photographed with the bong in his hands. If you’re Michael Phelps, you have to understand that you have a lot more to lose than the rest of the people at that party.

Dumb as that is, though, it pales in comparison to the aftermath of the incident, which saw Phelps get banned for three months by USA Swimming and lose his sponsorship with Kellogg Co. Neither announcement came as a surprise, but both entities should be wary of distancing themselves from Phelps. Because if USA Swimming thinks it is at all relevant without him, well, it’s not, and Kellogg Co. has to realize that any 23-year-old out there eating Froot Loops, Pop-Tarts and Eggo waffles probably smokes tons of pot already.

But the real icing on this stupid cake came just a few days ago when it was reported that the infamous bong was confiscated when its owner, who may be dumb but definitely has balls, tried to sell it on eBay for $100,000. It was also reported that the Richland County (S.C.) Sheriff’s Department had arrested eight people in the case, charging seven of them with possession of marijuana and one with distribution based solely on the Phelps photo.

Are you kidding me? You’re going to round up a bunch of harmless kids three months after the fact on the assumption that one person in a photo was getting high at a party? That’s some fine police work. You wouldn’t by chance be trying to score political points, would you, Sheriff? I haven’t seen grandstanding like that since the U.S. Senate hearings on steroids in baseball.

Speaking of which, if there is a dumber organization on the planet than Major League Baseball under the reign of Commissioner Bud Selig, I’ll be damned if I know what it is. Here’s all you need to know about A-Rod’s positive test for steroids: The testing done in 2003 was “survey testing,” meaning that the results were only going to be used to decide if more widespread testing needed to be done in 2004. It was agreed that there would be no penalties for any positive tests, which is why none of the 104 players who tested positive was disciplined.

So was Rodriguez stupid for taking steroids? Not really. Everyone else in baseball was taking them, so to stay competitive he almost had to, and there were no penalties for using banned substances at the time. If you could rob a bank knowing you couldn’t get in any trouble, why wouldn’t you?

No, the idiots in this case are the MLB Players’ Association, which was supposed to have kept the test results anonymous and destroyed them years ago, and MLB itself, which knew of the positive tests but did nothing about it. The fact that baseball is considering disciplining Rodriguez now is the absolute height of hypocrisy.

The most galling part of this sordid tale, however, is that Selig, who has basically ruined baseball by allowing steroid use to flourish unchecked during his tenure, makes $18 million a year. That’s criminal. If we can all get outraged over corporate CEOs giving themselves huge bonuses, surely we can figure out a way to get an overpaid, wretched little dweeb like Selig canned.

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