Stephen Kent

Another luminary from the rich and famous crowd has entered the Hall of Shame.

After a rash of behaviorally challenged politicians, the Hall welcomed a major league baseball player.

New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who had not played in the current season because of various aches and pains, was suspended for 211 games — effectively out through the 2014 season. His 10-year contract with the Yankees is worth $275 million.

Baseball officials said in a statement that Rodriguez, also known as A-Rod, was disciplined for use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances “over the course of multiple years,” and “for attempting to cover up his violations.”

One might think such public embarrassment and humiliation would drive the miscreant to the darkest caves of anonymity. Not so.

Just before the suspension, Rodriguez said in an interview, “I want to be a role model, continue to be a role model — especially to my girls.”

Hours after his suspension was announced, Rodriguez appeared in the locker room and suited up for that night’s game. It seems the immediate appeal of his sentence will allow him to play until the appeal is decided, not before the season ends.

“Well, how about that!” as Mel Allen, longtime voice of the Yankees would say. How about that, proclaiming yourself to be a role model and lacing up the spikes as if nothing happened after being called a liar and a cheat.

We have disgraced politicians running for office, albeit lesser offices than the ones they occupied at the time when they were caught in misdeeds. One is a candidate for mayor of New York City who electronically sent obscene photos of himself to several women, resigned from Congress as a result, and continued to do the same thing after the resignation. Then we have the call girl-challenged former governor of New York state now running for New York City comptroller. The former governor of South Carolina, who was not hiking the Appalachian Trail as he said while he was trysting with a paramour in South America, won a seat in Congress.

Whatever happened to shame? How did disdain for disgraceful conduct morph into admiration? Shame used to result in embarrassment and humiliation. Now it gets you on the cover of supermarket checkout stand magazines and television talk shows.

Forgiveness once came only after an admission of a transgression, contrition for the wrongdoing and a firm purpose not to do it again.

Admission now comes under the bright lights of television, often with the “good wife” standing nearby. Some say it resembles a Greek tragedy. But these flawed politicians and baseball plaers lack one element: In a Greek tragedy, the protagonist recognizes his flaw.

Recent events bring to mind lyrics from “Ain’t That a Shame” by Fats Domino.

The refrain:

“Ain’t that a shame

My tears fell like rain

Ain’t that a shame.”

In the old days, as in the song, there was recognition, naming it and tearful consequences. But today, their contrition feels like the fourth line of the song: “You’re the one to blame.”


Kent is the retired editor of archdiocesan newspapers in Omaha and Seattle. He can be contacted at: