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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Say it Ain’t So, Dan-o…

Forgive me Father for I have sinned...
During the infamous Black Sox Scandal of 1919, where eight Major League Baseball players from the Chicago White Sox, including a shoe-in Hall of Famer, "Shoeless" Joe Jackson (pun intended), were accused of conspiring to fix the World Series (despite being the favorite, they would get paid handsomely by organized gamblers if they lost) and banned from the game for life, it was reported that a boy came up to Jackson, who hit .375 in the series, and asked, “It ain’t true is it Joe?” Jackson reluctantly answered, “I’m afraid it is.”

The next day, a local newspaper is said to have run a story with the headline, “Say It Ain’t So,” which became part of baseball lore.

I was reminded of that saying last week, when the story broke that Dolphins' great, Dan Marino, who is a married (28 years) father of six children, including two adopted girls and a son with autism, which motivated him to establish the Dan Marino Foundation with his wife, and an otherwise all around “good guy” and pillar of the South Florida community, had fathered a child during an extramarital affair with a co-worker seven years ago.

Moreover, Marino admitted to having paid the woman, Donna Savattere, who was a production assistant at CBS Sports at the time, millions of dollars to help support the girl, move to Texas and keep everything quiet, which the Hall of Fame quarterback said was in the best interest of all involved.

It was the latter part that most outraged a single female co-worker of mine.  While it was the extramarital affair part that upset another co-worker who was recently married.

In any case, I must say, it was a bit disappointing to me.  Despite not being a Dolphins' fan (I actually like the Washington Redskins), as a fellow Roman Catholic, husband and father, who is trying to raise righteous and Godly children, it is disheartening to see another role model, and I'm not talking on the field but as a man, tainted by his own indiscretions.

Even my wife, who is not much of a sports fan, admitted to me that night, "I lost a lot of respect for Dan Marino."

I guess it felt like the Mighty Casey in the 19th Century poem, where fans put him on a pedestal and are certain he will win the game with his powerful bat, only to fall flat on his face and strike out, to every one's disappointment.  The author writes, "There's no more joy in Mudville, the mighty Casey has struck out!" (although, maybe I'm being a little melodramatic!)

In any case, a few weeks ago, it was Lance Armstrong, who also admitted to cheating (albeit on a sport by using steroids, although, his personal life is nothing to brag about since divorcing his wife and dating a slew of Hollywood starlets) and, unlike Marino, it took years after first being implicated, for the seven time Tour de France Champion to admit his wrongdoing.  But, it seems that every week another story hits the front page of a professional athlete or celebrity getting caught in a scandal.

Some people excuse it as a reality of life today or, as I heard one friend say when explaining his failed marriage, "Things happen."  Really?  Is that what we have come to expect from marriage?  They may even defend it, as I saw in several articles and letters to the editor in the days that followed the Marino story.

However, I think it's a sad statement on society when cheating, moral mediocrity and marital failures become the social norms; when families are being torn apart by the selfish acts of parents or when we continue lowering the moral threshold.  In fact, fallen heroes may even allow us to feel better about our own failures, which may be why the media can't get enough of them.

I'll admit, despite my disappointment, when the water cooler debate broke out at work, I was the first to say, "Hey, we are all sinners," and that all of us, at one time or another, are bound to make mistakes that we may regret later in life.  But, after reflecting on it a little, I realized, it's not an excuse or license to go out and make them.

We can never try to judge another man's (or woman's) heart.  For all we know, Marino has truly repented, reconciled with God and his family and received forgiveness.  Furthermore, considering that he appears to have taken responsibilities for his actions, restored his marriage (at least from the outside) and provided for his daughter, whose mother (Savattere) has since gotten married and had another child, it appears the wounds may be healing.

Still, I can't help but wondering, like the boy in the "Shoeless" Joe Jackson story, if it really ain't so.  Or, at least for my kids' and society's sake, if it had never been...

[pic credit: New York Daily News]


Robert said...

My reaction was mostly disappointment and forgiveness, but not without a pinch of non-surprise. Not because I think Marino is a sleazeball (I have always held him in high regard - I still do), but because all I could think of is the old saying, there but for the grace of God, go I . When we as faithful Christians start thinking that we're "above" doing such a thing as cheating on our spouse is precisely when we're most vulnerable. The devil works in strange ways, especially with our pride.

Considering how Marino handled the situation and assuming that he's been honest and forthcoming to his family, I can only find room in my heart to forgive him.

Carlos Espinosa said...

Great comment, Robert and you're right.
He does appear to have dealt with his infidelity in a sincere manner (if sincere is not an insult to his wife, who most likely felt betrayed).
Yet, while we must love the sinner and forgive, since God forgives our trepasses, we can still hate and disapprove of the sin.
Thanks and God bless.