#5. Cheaters Never Win ... OK, in 2007 They Did
In pro sports, 2007 was the year that cheaters got caught red-handed. In the NFL, the Patriots got busted using hidden cameras to intercept opponents play calls. Baseball players were accused of dealing with shady laboratories to acquire human growth hormone. These were not chance encounters with dishonesty. It wasn't like a marathon runner seeing the subway car and deciding, fuck it, might be nice to win for once. These were intricately wrought conspiracies orchestrated by powerful men using high tech equipment. The sort of schemes we count on James Bond to foil in a hail of glass beaker-shattering machine gun fire. Except for one thing: In 2007, the bad guys won. Like, a lot.
Anyone with eyes and a working understanding of human physiology had their suspicions about Bonds prior to 2007. Here was a man who started his career as a lithe, base-stealing five-tool player who around the age of 40 became a one-dimensional power hitter with a rippling six pack on his scalp, breaking Hank Aaron's all-time home run record.
Other than the danger of getting caught, the argument against steroids had always been that they make you more prone to injuries. This was the message behind the anti-steroid ads that ran throughout Bonds' record chase, in which a steroid user's arms turn into brittle plaster and fall off.
How it never dawned on them to just speed up footage of two grapes shriveling into raisins is beyond us. Maybe, ball jokes are too sophisticated for the people who write PSAs.
Either way, there was Bonds at age 42, knocking 28 home runs (more homers, in fewer at bats, than he hit when he was 24). This wasn't some muscle-bound power lifter squatting an automobile; this was a man picking up an automobile and running with it well into his 40s. The argument that they would shorten your career started to sound a little far fetched. Of course, Bonds was just one man, maybe he had just gotten lucky. But, then again ...
The Mitchell Report
Watching the Patriots season unfold was like watching a bad action movie where the villain is so over-the-top evil that it starts to become distracting. Of course, in the movies, this is all to make the ending where he's impaled on the Washington Monument all the more satisfying. For the Patriots, that moment never came in '07.
Bill Belichick started the season like he always does, smugly addressing questions from the media like a Bond villain condescendingly dismissing his henchmen's concerns. Patriot's golden boy Tom Brady started the season by leaving his pregnant girlfriend for a Brazilian supermodel. Then the team got caught video taping opponents play calls, presumably using the super satellite on the secret death laser they have orbiting Earth.
It was around this time that the Patriots started beating the living shit out of every single opponent they faced. Belichick continued smugly dismissing questions about why he was still throwing for the end zone in the fourth quarter of a three touchdown game. An "if he dies, he dies" wouldn't have felt out of place in most of his press conferences.
Sure, it could be argued that the Pats have been able to make their record-breaking undefeated run without cheating, and that this somehow proves something. But it could also be argued that Patriots' ridiculous win margin, and their supporters' "everybody does it" defense of their play stealing, are probably the two most compelling reasons why, after 2007, when a little league coach tells his team that "cheaters never win" he will be greeted by a bunch of tiny high-pitched coughs off, "Bullshit!"
Good work 2007, you've given us something else to be ashamed of. Along with ...