The Monthly Editorial Blog By Schlafly Beer Co-Founder Tom Schlafly
Schlafly Beer has something in common with the Russian track and field team. Neither of us will be taking part in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Russian athletes have been banned from competing because of a state-sponsored doping program. Schlafly will not be represented because we are not a sponsor of Rio 2016 and have no ties to Brazil.
In fairness to the Russian athletes, it should be noted that lots of other sports have had their share of cheaters as well. There’s Alex Rodriguez, who was suspended by Major League Baseball for 162 games because of his use of performance-enhancing drugs. In November of 2014 it was disclosed that A-Rod had admitted to the Drug Enforcement Administration that he had used performance-enhancing drugs, notwithstanding his vehement denials a mere 18 days earlier.
Ryan Braun was another baseball player who was suspended for violating MLB’s drug policy after having indignantly (and falsely) proclaimed his innocence. In 2011 Braun tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug in his urine. After beating the test on a technicality (based on a lie about how his urine sample was handled) Braun claimed vindication… until his lie was exposed. He eventually apologized for using the drugs he had initially denied using, but then claimed to have used them only to nurse a nagging injury (not, of course, to enhance his performance).
Adults like Rodriguez and Braun aren’t the only baseball players who have been caught cheating. In 2001 a pitcher named Danny Almonte dominated the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. He pitched the first perfect game in the LLWS since 1979; struck out 62 of the 72 batters he faced; allowed three hits in three starts; and gave up one unearned run. His team, dubbed the “Baby Bombers,” received the key to the city from New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. It was an extraordinary performance by a 12-year-old. Except, of course, Danny was actually 14. His father had submitted a falsified birth certificate in order for him to compete. Whoops.
One of the more bizarre instances of sports cheating took place in the Rugby Union 2009 Heineken Cup match between England’s Harlequins and Ireland’s Leinster. The Harlequin wing Tom Williams used capsules of fake blood to simulate an injury that permitted a tactical substitution. An investigation revealed that the Harlequins had faked blood injuries on four previous occasions. Multiple bans and fines were imposed on the guilty Harlequins, who were nearly expelled from the Heineken Cup.
Perhaps the most brazen episode of cheating involved Lance Armstrong, the cyclist who won the Tour de France seven consecutive times from 1999 to 2005, but then had to forfeit his titles in 2012. Several media outlets, including The Sunday Times, accurately reported that Mr. Livestrong had been doping. Not only did Lance deny the reports. He sued The Sunday Times for libel. And he won hundreds of thousands of dollars. After the truth came out, he not only resisted paying back the funds he had been awarded as a result of his perjury. He also wanted to keep the sponsorship money he had duped the United States Postal Service and others into paying.
The Russian athletes, A-Rod, Ryan Braun, Danny Almonte, Tom Williams and Lance Armstrong are all much too young to remember a song that came out 50 years ago and will be familiar to alert readers (ARs) of a certain age: “The Cheater” by Bob Kuban and The In-Men:
Look out for the cheater
Make way for the fool hearted clown
Look out for the cheater
He’s going to build you up
Just to let you down.
ARs of this certain age probably won’t be surprised to learn that Bob Kuban played at my high school prom, as well as dozens of others in St. Louis back in the day. They will also recall that in the case of Walter Scott, the lead singer for The In-Men, the Cheater didn’t just “take his baby away.” He murdered Walter after he did so. I am not making this up. James Williams connived with Walter’s wife JoAnn to knock him off, so the two of them could get married and live happily ever after, which they did until they got caught and ended up going to their respective slammers.
One of the cheating scandals associated with Mizzou athletics involves someone who wasn’t an athlete at the university and wasn’t even a student there. Bill and Nancy Laurie thought so highly of their alma mater that they donated $25 million for the construction of a new basketball arena on the University of Missouri campus. And they thought so highly of their daughter Paige that they asked the university to name the arena for her. Mizzou obliged.
It was soon revealed that Paige had paid Elena Martinez, her freshman roommate at The University of Southern California, $20,000 to do her homework for three and a half years. USC promptly yanked her diploma and the Paige Sports Arena became Mizzou Arena.
Most ARs probably know that Paige’s uncle is Stan Kroenke, whose record of lying to Rams fans in St. Louis was longer than her three and half years of cheating at USC. These same ARs also recall the many nasty things Stan said about St. Louis when he asked the NFL for permission to move the Rams to Los Angeles. Amazingly, Stan is now asking St. Louis to give him a public subsidy to help him build in a flood plain in Maryland Heights. Now, for all of his criticism of St. Louis, I don’t recall Stan’s saying St. Louisans are stupid. But, he’s certainly acting as if he thinks we are. Why else would he seriously expect us to give him money after he insulted us and lied to us for years?
While Stan is asking St. Louis (the community he dumped) for more public money, it’s worth contrasting this request with the deal he apparently struck in Los Angeles. According to James Butts, the Mayor of Inglewood (where Stan plans to build his new stadium), “Our deal involved no financial contribution from the city.” Mayor Butts emphasized, “Everything public and private is financed by the developer.”
Until Stan finishes his stadium in Inglewood the Rams will be playing in the Los Angeles Coliseum, which was their home before they moved to St. Louis. Some ARs will recall that this was the venue for the 1984 Olympic Games. As will be the case in Rio, these games did not include Russian athletes or Schlafly Beer.