Long time Chicago Tribune major league baseball writer, Phil Rogers, takes time to feature two of baseball's "good guys," Jim Thome and Derek Jeter, in his piece at americanchronicle.com. Using a Pete Rose inscribed baseball that says "Hits -- 4256. Steroids - 0" for support, Phil states:
"We're about to hit the daily double of milestones by guys whose achievements can be celebrated without reservation. How long until this happens again?"
("Without reservation" meaning untainted by illegal performance-enhancers.)
Through an eloquent depiction of these two aging players' accomplishments, Phil pokes at the "egotism" and lack of "ethics" displayed by players of the newer generation. Calling Thome and Jeter "throwback players," he places them on a higher plane giving them much respect for the successes these two have achieved. In addition, he highlights a poll from Sports Illustrated where players and fans voted both Jim and Derek high on the list of "nicest" players.
Heavily inferred throughout Phil's article, he not only takes issue with the more recent records that have been broken through the use of PED's but also with the attitudes and behavior of the current younger generation of baseball athletes. At least that is what I get out of this statement from him:
"Jeter and Thome ... were raised not to put themselves above others, including their fellow players. That's why their pursuits of the milestones feel more like Tony Gwynn's chase of 3,000 hits in 1999 and Cal Ripken's the next year than most of the recent ones, which stir ill will and apathy, not the good feelings that made us follow sports in the first place."
From my viewpoint, Phil does a good job in this piece of demonstrating the strong feelings that he, and likely many, have toward athletes who are able to succeed, behave appropriately--ethically, set good examples for others, and do it without the use of illegal PED's. I would also add to this that athletes (and all the coaches, trainers, owners, etc.) who buy into the "winning at any cost" type attitudes that promote illegal performance-enhancement, are only fooling themselves when they think that that is what most people want to see. They don't. The larger percentage would much prefer honest, dedicated, hardworking, efforts from their favorite athletes; the kind of efforts that demonstrate a sense of good character and integrity; the type that command respect and admiration from others.
My hope (since I do not know baseball like Phil nor have any information that contradicts what he's said about Jim Thome and Derek Jeter) is that all his inference about these two is true. Baseball sure could use a couple of true champions...actually, all sports could.