Remember when you were in high school and your parents would come in your room for a talk? Not just any old chat, but "the talk". You know, the one that came after you did something wrong and got caught. From the moment they opened your door and walked in, you dreaded what came next. The words that did more than any punishment could. "I'm disappointed in you." If you weren't feeling guilty about what you had done before, you sure were now. (And then some!) I would have rather heard just about anything else. I'm angry. I'm upset. I'm furious. But disappointed? That one trumped any amount of wrath.
You see, the thing about anger is that inherently it's directed at someone. It's an outward emotion. It goes somewhere. Yes, the person experiencing it can feel a little hot and bothered, but it doesn't necessary affect them internally. It doesn't hurt them. At least not the way disappointment does. Disappointment is different. Disappointment is felt deep within. It changes the person experiencing it because, inherently, their expectations of someone have just come tumbling down. What they knew as true, has just been revealed as false. It hurts them.
And suddenly something that was all about me would be catapulted into something that affected those who cared about me. Something I, as a teenager, didn't want to think much about. Quite frankly, I think it's something we all still would rather not think about at times.
When the first allegations of A-Rod's steroid use came out on Saturday, I expected to feel upset with him. How could someone so talented and fortunate risk it all by experimenting with illegal substances? How could he be so naive? So irresponsible? So stupid? I expected to write him off for the rest of his career, as someone who had every opportunity to be one of the greats, but instead chose to tarnish his reputation and his success. I mean first an affair with Madonna and now this? What a chump! But as I sat watching (and re-watching for the umpteenth time) his interview on ESPN last night, it wasn't anger I felt towards him at all. It was disappointment. It was as if his admission made me not only think about him differently, but made me second guess how I looked at all current "greats". Who else was lying when asked if they had ever used performance enhancing drugs? Who could I trust? Who was worthy of my admiration? Of my support? I was disappointed in him. I felt a little bit hurt to be honest. And I don't think I'm alone in this. All the articles I've read and broadcasts I've seen seem to all have an air of disappointment in them as well. I don't know if it's that we expected it more from Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens. Or that A-Rod seemed like the poster boy for the current era of baseball. Or that maybe it's just spreading wider than we wanted to think it would. But no one seems angry with Alex, not even the commissioner, himself. We're, collectively, disappointed. Let down. Hurt. And I wonder if, like my teenage self, A-Rod's feeling like that's the worst punishment in the world right now?