Are Manny and A-Rod the Bernie Madoffs of baseball?
Today, Manny Ramirez was suspended for 50 baseball games because of a positive drug test. Are we all being scammed by baseball's East Coast huckster, Alex Rodriguez, and West Coast con man, Manny Ramirez?
They charm us, pick our pockets, and then say they're sorry. Yet we keep coming back for more.
In the end, they get rich off of our $1,250 seats behind home plate at Yankee stadium (down from $2,500), and $10 hamburgers at Citi (Taxpayer) Field.
We cry foul after we find out they aren't what they appeared to be, just as Bernie Madoff minions were rightfully outraged after they discovered he sent out fake earnings statements, while he and his wife lived like royalty.
Have we all been suckered into needing to see Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa hit 60 to 70 home runs a year, while being bored to sleep as Derek Jeter chases Pete Rose's hitting record?
It used to be that Cal Ripken's game playing streak and Rod Carew's prowess for hitting a ball were enough to thrill fans. Now, it seems, we're only thrilled with a triple play or a player diving into the stands to make a catch.
When it comes to baseball, who wants to see a pop-up. When it comes to finances, who wants paltry annual returns of three to six percent when Madoff guaranteed double those numbers?
Even if players are cheating their ways to record numbers with "the cream" and products no longer sold at GNC, we fans are happy to look the other way as home runs are jacked out of ballparks at record paces and owners ring their registers as television revenue, attendance, ticket and even hot dog and beer prices tick higher.
We have ourselves to blame for flocking to see the steroid crowd awe us with their golf swings used to hit balls record distances.
And who can blame us? After all, baseball is a game. So if guys want to allegedly juice themselves and get the biggest paydays in the game, as Manny and A-Rod are, why shouldn't we pay to watch their carnival-like antics?
In the end, though, as with Madoff, the good times proved to be too good to be true.
Feel sorry for the guys like Jeter and Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichirio Suzuki, who go out there and hit the ball consistently over infielders' gloves for singles 200 times a year. They get overlooked the way boring-old Proctor & Gamble (PG) got pushed aside as Google (GOOG) raced to $1,000 a share.
As a fan or an investor, it's hard not to fall for the hot story. Who wants to be left out of the latest fad?
In the end, when a baseball star says, "sorry i misled or cheated" you folks, it was a big mistake, won't happen again, we all wag our fingers and say, "How dare you make such fools of us?"
And for a time, we go back to loving stocks like Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and players like last year's American League MVP Dustin Pedroias, who carry their lunch boxes to work every day and eat baloney sandwiches. And we say, sorry we ignored you, pal, won't happen again.
Of course, that's only until Twitter goes public or A-Rod strides towards Barry Bonds home run record. We can't help but be lured in by grand promises made only to be broken.
That's why Bernie Madoff and A-Rod often have that wry Mona Lisa grin, even when folks are shouting "Guilty!" into their faces.
They look past our anger and see the sucker in us, just waiting for the next too-good-to-be true ball player or stock of the year.
So ring that bell New York Stock Exchange and play the national anthem, baby, we're waiting for the next big thing!
Anthony Massucci is a senior writer and columnist at DailyFinance.