By Mary Kate Cary, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Sunday is baseball's Opening Day. With the steroid scandal continuing to unfold—the commissioner and the owners seem to be blind to the massive cost of the scandal to the future of the game—I thought it might be an opportunity to talk to our daughters about steroids and their effects on baseball, from the records with an asterisk in the Hall of Fame to individual players' health.
We talked about Alex Rodriguez admitting to using steroids. Immediately, our 11-year-old daughter, who is a rabid St. Louis Cardinals fan, got a concerned look on her face and said, "Gee, I hope Albert Pujols didn't that."
As if in response to her, Pujols went on the cover of Sports Illustrated a few weeks ago with the headline: "Albert Pujols Has a Message: Don't Be Afraid to Believe in Me." You don't have to be a Cardinals fan—or even a baseball fan at all—to read this article, because it's such a great story that goes beyond baseball pretty quickly.
In it, the future Hall of Famer talks about the difficulty of being the guy Sports Illustrated calls "The Best Player in Baseball" in an era when everyone assumes he's using steroids. He doesn't drink, smoke, chew tobacco, or have tattoos, and he married wife Dee Dee when she was a single mom with a daughter who has Down syndrome. He regularly hits home runs at the request of kids with Down syndrome. He's got his priorities right, and baseball is only a small part of what's important to him:
"You know how I want people to remember me?" Pujols asks. "I don't want to be remembered as the best baseball player ever. I want to be remembered as a great guy who loved the Lord, loved to serve the community and who gave back. That's the guy I want to be remembered as when I'm done wearing this uniform. That's from the bottom of my heart."
My recommendation: Print out the Sports Illustrated article on Pujols for your kids. Read it out loud to them. It's a good way to get back to everything we used to love about baseball. Albert Pujols is a hero who won't let kids down. Happy Opening Day.
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