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Hit like a roid

BY BEAU ELLIOT | FEBRUARY 17, 2009 7:40 AM

So it turns out that the economic meltdown (I wonder if we can call it the China Syndrome without irritating the nuclear-power industry, Hollywood, or the Chinese — people are so sensitive these days) has been good for one thing: similes.

Oh, sure, I know — you say, Who can care about similes at a time like this? And I say, “Time such as this” would be better, and you say, Who can care about grammar at a time such as this? And our dialogue sinks from there until we both sound like Republicans throwing mud on the economic-stimulus plan.

But similes, you have to admit — well, OK, you don’t have to admit anything; I’m not waterboarding you or anything. But similes, you either do or don’t have to admit, have hit a slump recently. (Frankly, I think similes have been in a deep slump since the days of Raymond Chandler, who was the emperor of similes. How deep a slump? you ask. Similes have been hitting like A-Rod after the seventh inning.)

But they appear to be making a comeback. For example:

Noah Adams of NPR recently opened a story about a café in a small Michigan town brought down by the economic sludge fest by noting that the town had received more than 100 inches of snow so far this winter. The snow, he reported, “has been coming down like the economy.”

Which, you have to admit, pretty much nails it. (OK, OK, you don’t have to etc., etc.)

Speaking of A-Rod, lately he’s looked as though he’s up at the plate and it’s after the seventh inning. Swing and miss. Swing and miss. Yankee fans know what I mean, all too well. He’s the best player in baseball, many people say, and yet, late in a close game, he resembles me at the plate. (Or resembles the way I would look against major-league pitching. I had enough trouble with high-school pitching.

When I say, Swing and miss, swing and miss, I’m well-acquainted with the experience.)

The latest inning in the Alex Rodriguez soap opera involves his admission that he used steroids from 2001-03. Well, OK, he used the phrase banned substances; Sports Illustrated has reported that the substances were steroids.

The revelation provoked a proverbial firestorm in the world of New York tabloids, as you might expect — “A-Roid” and “A-Fraud” were two of the headlines. And you might expect that I, as a Red Sox fan, would be rolling around in some well-deserved schadenfreude right now. (Beau rolled around in schadenfreude like a Labrador retriever in his favorite spot of mud. Beau has had a Labrador retriever; he knows a Labrador retriever could find a favorite spot of mud in the Kalahari Desert.)

But no schadenfreude here. A-Rod’s name was on a list of 104 major-leaguers who had tested positive for banned substances in 2003 (the list was supposed to remain secret, but the feds subpoenaed it as part of their BALCO investigation; apparently, once the feds get a secret list, it’s a lot like putting that “secret” list up on MySpace or Facebook).

And if you do the arithmetic, 104 positive hits works out to 8.67 percent of the 1,200 ballplayers on the 40-man rosters in 2003. That’s a lot of players, and it’s a little difficult to believe that one’s favorite team didn’t have some of them. As Tony Massarotti of the Boston Globe points out, how sweet does that 2004 World Series feel if you discover some of your guys were cheating?

I’m a great believer in the notion that schadenfreude goes before a fall, so I’m not going to roll around in it (basically, I try not to act like a Labrador retriever, though, apparently, I don’t always succeed). And anyway, how hypocritical is this: A bunch of guys sitting in a bar, swilling beer and whiskey, grousing about ballplayers using drugs?

Sure, beer and whiskey are legal (if you’re of age), but you’ll notice that the closer the guys approach intoxication, the more adamant and agitated they get about juicing ballplayers.
Do we call that performance-enhanced conversation?

And besides, this society is awash in drugs, legal and illegal. You smoke a little weed, chill out to your favorite music — is that performance-enhanced listening?

Yeah, I thought so.

What this country needs is tad less finger-pointing.

And some more good similes. Where have you gone, Raymond Chandler? A national turns its lonely ears to you.


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