You can’t boo A-Rod and vote for Nelson Cruz

Apparently every baseball fan has turned into a Seattle Mariners fan.

No, fans aren’t jumping on the team’s bandwagon as they have their first decent season since Lou Piniella threw bases around the Pacific Northwest. As a group, baseball fans just really don’t seem to get it anymore.

A large percentage of Mariners fans — approximately all of them — don’t know how to behave at a game. They wear their rally caps when the game is tied, and they need to be told to “stand up” and “make some noise” when their team is a strike away from victory.

When he was traded away from the Mariners a few years ago, pitcher Cliff Lee said he looked forward to playing in front of a fan base that doesn’t need a teleprompter to cheer.

Now, it seems those types of baseball fans have taken over at ballparks across the country.

Take the case of Nelson Cruz for example.

Cruz, who was suspended for 50 games under Major League Baseball’s performance-enhancing drug policy last season, was just voted into the All-Star Game by the fans. The Baltimore Orioles slugger will be the designated hitter for the American League next Tuesday in Minneapolis.

Somewhere, Alex Rodriguez has to be scratching his head in disbelief.

Rodriguez was suspended for the entire 2014 season and vilified by CBS on “60 Minutes” for his role in the Biogenesis investigation. Odds are he will never play big league baseball again because fake commissioner Bud Selig made A-Rod Enemy No. 1 in his pretend war on steroids.

A-Rod appealed a much-longer suspension last year and the fans of every team — even his own — booed him mercilessly during every at bat when he played during his stay. Baseball fans treated him as if he was Barack Obama and they were members of the Tea Party.

Lost in all the fake outrage about A-Rod robbing the integrity of the game and spitting in the eye of America’s nation pastime was that A-Rod wasn’t the only player suspended for cheating.

Ryan Braun, Jhonny Peralta and Cruz were among the more than a dozen players suspended in the Biogenesis scandal alone. Like the others, Cruz didn’t fight Selig on the investigation like A-Rod did.

He was a good boy, took his punishment, sat in timeout for 50 games and returned to play for the Rangers in their one-game playoff against Tampa Bay. End of story.

A-Rod was more of a believer in that pesky thing lawyers like to call “due process,” and he didn’t take his punishment lying down. Plus, he figured he could lie his way out of trouble before settling on an agreement that dropped his 211-game suspension to a 162-game ban.

Cruz apparently wasn’t a big enough name for Selig to bring down in his fake fight against steroids in baseball.

He wasn’t a big enough villain for the media, either, because he wasn’t saddled with the stigma as A-Rod. So, many of the writers who won’t vote Mark McGwire into the Hall of Fame never even flinched when Cruz signed an $8 million one-year contract with the Orioles in the offseason.

Then the fans — many of the same fans who loath A-Rod with every fiber of their being — voted repeatedly for Cruz to play in the All-Star game.

Of course, I have no problem with Cruz playing in the All-Star Game because I am not silly enough to believe that he is the only user of performance-enhancing drugs to ever play in the Mid-Summer Classic.

It would be naive to think that Cruz is the only 2014 All-Star who has cheated. Odds are, a huge percentage of the All-Stars have taken some kind of PED during their career.

Thanks to baseball’s long history of protecting steroid-using players and its long fight against any kind of meaningful testing, the only credible voice on steroids in baseball is Jose Canseco. That literary mastermind said 80 percent of all players were using some kind of PED in his day.

Canseco’s allegations came out in his first book nearly a decade ago, and he was repeatedly proven correct as the years passed.

Fans would prefer to laugh off Canseco and follow their commissioner in pretending only a few bad guys cheated. It’s easy to point the finger at players like Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and A-Rod and pretend that the rest of the game is pristine.

Like parents who say “not my kid,” baseball fans want to believe that their favorite players never touched a steroid. They easily forgive or forget when overwhelming evidence points otherwise (see Braun) as long as the player isn’t as unlikable as A-Rod.

There are actually Red Sox fans who think Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz hit all their home runs naturally.

Whether it’s spitballs, corked bats or human growth hormones, baseball always was and always will be a game of cheating. Players will always try to get that edge.

The sooner we begin to accept that fact the better.

Baseball and its fans have to get over this scapegoat behavior that punishes the very few for the sins of the many. Either we get serious about PEDs with real punishment or we let the game be a free-for-all steroid bonanza. One or the other.

The hypocrisy of ostracizing one cheater and making an $8 million All-Star another makes all baseball fans look foolish.

The next thing you know, we’ll all need a teleprompter to tell us when to cheer.

—Bill Foley, who has clearly never taken a performance-enhancing drug, writes a column that appears on ButteSports.com on Tuesdays. Email him at foley@buttesports.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74.



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