"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

News of the Day – 2/9/09

Since this off-season has been such a piece of science fiction, today’s news is brought to you by this:

So it seems this fellow named Alex Rodriguez put something in his body he wasn’t supposed to, and now folks think his performance at his job is tainted … let’s just list every relevant article:

  • Jayson Stark thinks this is a huge blow to the legacy of the game:

Who knows what other names are lurking on that list of seized urine samples? Who knows whose career and reputation will be fed through the shredder in the next big scoop? And the next? And the next? …

How could baseball have allowed this to happen to itself? How? Can anyone recall any other sport that has ever committed such an insane act of self-destruction?

What compares to it? The Black Sox? This is worse. Game-fixing in college basketball? This is worse. Nominate any scandal in the history of sports. My vote is that this is worse. It’s not worse because it will cause massive numbers of people to stop watching or caring about baseball. Check the attendance. Check the revenue charts. People will come back. They’ve already come back. The sport, as a business, is doing great. But the sport, as a unique paragon of American culture, is devastated. And that’s forever.

  • Howard Bryant writes about the legacy of the would-have-been HOFers, and also about the “leak” of A-Rod’s name:

The debate over the next few days undoubtedly will shift to the leak, to who spoke to Sports Illustrated and why. And why, if the anonymous source had access to the entire list, was Rodriguez the only person named? The legality of the leak should not be underestimated. Someone has compromised the confidentiality of an agreement. But these questions are important, although they aren’t as important as this fact: The full scope of the steroids era is coming into even clearer focus.

Don’t forget that the most important informant in American history — W. Mark Felt, aka Deep Throat — took down a president in part because he didn’t receive the promotion he wanted. Nobody complained then, because the information he leaked was legitimate.

For the same reasons, nobody should complain now.

  • Buster Olney laments the opportunity lost through A-Rod’s actions:

Alex Rodriguez was supposed to be the guy who saved baseball, the way that Mark McGwire did in 1998. He was supposed to ride in and save the home run record from the clutches of suspected steroid user Barry Bonds. He was supposed to be the guy who would show that clean players could be just as prolific as the cheaters.

  • Olney also wonders how A-Rod will respond publicly to inquiries about this matter:

But there’s one other destination for A-Rod, one more route: Honest and Open. He could talk about everything: what he did, when he did it, why he did, his regrets, his concerns, side effects, the benefits, the costs. This would be something very rarely seen in the steroid era — a time filled with thousands of mistakes by users, by union leaders, by the baseball commissioner and by baseball owners. And yet it’s a time of embarrassingly few specific, sincere admissions. Doing so would be the right thing. That could be part of A-Rod’s legacy as well.

  • Rob Neyer invokes an excerpt from the Torre book to show just how much A-Rod has jeopardized:

His image, so obviously, so often clumsily constructed, has been shattered into a million tiny pieces. You could say whatever you wanted about his astronomical salaries and his postseason struggles and his “Single White Female” relationship with Derek Jeter, but you couldn’t argue that he wasn’t perhaps the most talented baseball player on the planet.

Until now, perhaps. Now, some of the pundits will argue that A-Rod wasn’t so great after all; and further, that even if he was a great player, his (alleged) cheating should taint his entire legacy and perhaps even keep him out of the Hall of Fame….

From the book:

… One night in 2007 he showed up in the dugout 10 minutes before the first pitch with blood dripping from his hands and knees. “What the hell happened to you?” somebody asked. Rodriguez explained that he just had been running full tilt on the treadmill in the weight room when the belt broke and he went flying off the back end of the machine, skinning his hands and knees as he was thrown into a wall. Who the hell ran at sprinting speed on a treadmill right before a game was about to start? The most talented player in baseball did. That was A-Rod, too.

I covered the Mariners through the end of the 1999 season. Alex was closing in on a major payday, and he was so concerned about his image that he was essentially becoming two people. One was Alex the person, an engaging guy who was eager to learn about almost anything. The other was A-Rod the icon, who pretended not to hear your question or slid into slick, corporate-speak. By the time he got to the Yankees, he was more often A-Rod than Alex.

Some of that was understandable. Rodriguez constructed a protective cocoon around himself because of extraordinary demands on his time and the scrutiny and adulation that follow him. But the dual personas have always posed a question of authenticity that dogs him now in a far different way, after reports of a positive steroid test in 2003.

  • Jack Curry points out the seemingly annual Yankee star Spring apology (Giambi, Pettitte … A-Rod?).
  • Former A-Rod teammate Jeff Nelson has some advice for him … keep quiet.
  • The Post’s Kevin Kernan, on the other hand, believes Rodriguez should come clean.
  • Jeff Passan of Yahoo!Sports uses the word I would choose in describing A-Rod’s actions … narcissistic:

Alex Rodriguez did not need steroids. Scouts who saw A-Rod in high school rave that his bat was more powerful than Moses’ staff. He was born with natural brilliance, a diamond with a perfect cut, just like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. And he allegedly injected himself with performance-enhancing drugs for the same reason they did.

He’s a raging narcissist, consumed so much by the idea of himself that his actions made it crumble into an ironic pile of rubble.

  • Newsday’s Anthony Rieber reflects on the conundrums facing future HOF voters:

And when A-Rod’s name comes on the ballot, whatever year that will end up being, I plan on voting for him, too, even if he breaks down at a news conference next week and admits sticking needles in his tush every year of his career.

Why? It’s simple: We just will never know who did and who didn’t take steroids and HGH during the home-run happy 1990s and 2000s. Heck, we will never know who is and who isn’t taking steroids and HGH today, since there is no test for HGH.

We can guess, and speculate, and wait for the revelations, and weigh the denials and the admissions, and play judge and jury with only a few facts at our disposal.

Here’s the problem I have with that, and have for a long time before Saturday’s A-Rod explosion: What about the guys who got away with it? What about the guys who cheated from Day One, had Hall of Fame careers, retired, and were never caught? And will never be caught? If you think hard, I’m sure you can think of one or two, a player who if you had a gun to your head you would swear took steroids, but has never been linked in any tangible way.

The way things are going, there might not be anybody worthy of going into the Hall of Fame.  Let’s take a vote:

[poll id="6"]

  • The Post’s George King examines the Bombers’ critical issues heading into ’09.
  • The recently-traded Chase Wright turned 26 on Sunday.
  • Fritz Peterson turned 67 on Sunday.
  • Dioner Navarro turns 25 today.  Wouldn’t we all like to have him around as Posada insurance nowadays?  Navarro was instead traded with Brad Halsey and Javier Vazquez for Randy Johnson after the 2004 season.
  • Netherlands native Robert Eenhoorn turns 41 today.  Eeehoorn had cups of coffee with the Bombers in ’94, ’95 and ’96.  Fun fact: Robert is only one of two players in ML history whose last name begins with “Ee” (Harry Eells of the 1906 Cleveland Naps was the other).
  • Yankee Legend Hank Bauer died on this date in 2007, at the age of 85.
  • On this date in 2001, after 13 months of negotiations, Derek Jeter and the Yankees finalize a $189 million, 10-year contract.

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94 comments

1 The Hawk   ~  Feb 9, 2009 8:46 am

Today I just find this all somewhat depressing ... That picture of A Rod taking BP in the NYT - it's just such a drag. What really bothers me is it seems completely unnecessary in the case of Rodriguez. He didn't need the help, really - or at least that's my impression, especially if he had a year like '07 WITHOUT juicing.

2 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Feb 9, 2009 9:03 am

Always enjoy the morning links Diane, thank you very much!

That Stark piece is just awful, what a damn fool.."worse than game fixing"???!
Neyer and Bryant much better.

Probably will never happen, but Olney has it right. 100% full disclosure the only way to end this nonsense..

oh well, time to watch the nightly Japan baseball spring training program. No juice for some of these guys, would hurt their "safety bunt" skills!

3 FreddySez   ~  Feb 9, 2009 9:26 am

OK, geek alert here, but: If you're running on a treadmill and the belt breaks, don't you vault *forward* into the control panel? I'm sitting here trying to picture how it would work the other way around.

This is either completely insignificant nitpicking or the tiny thread that begins to unravel some stupendous conspiracy.

4 MichiganYankee   ~  Feb 9, 2009 9:47 am

Diane, I was just reading over Steve Goldman's BP chat transcript, and I was intrigued by your exchange with Steve over Bobby Murcer. For the Yankees to move into their new championship era, they needed to shed the myth of Murcer as the heir to Mantle. The $100,000 dollar salary perpetuated that myth. The move to right field dealt it a wounding blow, and the trade shattered it entirely.

Bottom line: The Murcer trade eventually got us Rivers and Figgy. Gabe was right.

5 MichiganYankee   ~  Feb 9, 2009 9:52 am

I am amused by all of the calls to A-Rod to "come clean" and "tell the whole story." It depends what the story is. Pettitte and Giambi had good stories with clear beginnings, clear endings and no one else involved. But suppose that A-Rod has been doping to this very day and that the union faithfully tips him three weeks before every test. That's not a story he's going to tell.

6 RagingTartabull   ~  Feb 9, 2009 9:59 am

The idea that this is somehow worse than, or even on par with, throwing games is utterly laughable. Once game fixing comes into the conversation you might not even have a sport anymore. You'll just have this odd....thing. Like WWE or Olympic Figure Skating.

Thats sure to be the worst part of this whole thing, the self righteous hand wringing in the press. Bill Madden, Stark, et. al. Its going to get real tiresome real fast.

7 joejoejoe   ~  Feb 9, 2009 10:05 am

10 gazillion words are going to be spilled by sportswriters repeating as gospel the claims of 4 anonymous sources in SI but it's A-Rod with the credibility problem? Hey scribes, how about doing your own follow up reporting that confirms and expands the SI/A-Rod/PED story before you move on to the English 101 eulogies on the death of innocence in sport?

8 MichiganYankee   ~  Feb 9, 2009 10:06 am

The Ryan Howard contract should mark the end of the Phillies' run.

2006 WARP: 9.0
2007 WARP: 6.6
2008 WARP: 5.0
2009-2001: ????

The Phils could have non-tendered Howard and signed Adam Dunn for well under half the amount!

9 rbj   ~  Feb 9, 2009 10:15 am

[5] Don't steroids stay in your system longer than 3 weeks?

I'd like to know more about the whole testing procedure. How and when do they decide to test, and how do they decide which players to test? Do the testers have to notify the union a month ahead of time? Wouldn't that in and of itself sort of indicate that testing is only for appearance sake? Why have such a long lead time for testing if it's long enough for players to cycle off PEDs and test clean.

Wouldn't it make more sense to decide whom to test 2 days before hand?

10 williamnyy23   ~  Feb 9, 2009 10:18 am

The links today read like a game of can you top this in terms of ridiculousness (except for Neyer). There's so much nonsense in them that it's really not worth rebutting.

The more righteously indignant the media (and fans) get, the more I want Arod's response to HA! or perhaps a few four letter equivalents.

11 williamnyy23   ~  Feb 9, 2009 10:20 am

[9] Under the current testing procedure, I believe players are given no notice, and teams are only given one day's notice to prepare the logistics.

12 MichiganYankee   ~  Feb 9, 2009 10:28 am

[9] Early reports stated that Primobolan was "detectable for a shorter period of time." But Will Carol wrote yesterday that "Primobolan has a six month detectable period for the injectible form, so a tip wouldn’t have helped much."

If you want a conspiracy theory, you could say that the Union wanted to protect its superstars, so it negotiated a testing system that would allow for tipping. If you want to grow the theory a bit more, you could say that MLB saw the benefit in protecting the superstars as well and was complicit in opening the door for the tipping. This theory certainly has its problems, but it would explain the Palmiero case. He made his denial with confidence in the tipping system, but communication lines got crossed and he was exposed.

13 JL25and3   ~  Feb 9, 2009 10:45 am

[7] The Times reported confirmation by two sources of their own.

14 ms october   ~  Feb 9, 2009 10:45 am

[5] agreed - i am always amused by the media's insistence that whenever anyone accused of anything has just fessed up we forgive them and move on and coming clean is the best thing to do ... yeah right.

steroid ambassador schilling and others have called for the other 103 names to be released. there's a good chance that this information is going to come out at bonds' trial, but if it doesn't do banterers want these names released?
i have very mixed feelings about this - while i thought the mitchell report was a major injustice by naming partial names, thereby only casting the steroid user tag on a select few, and this release of just arod's name from this list of 104 is unfair that it is just arod's name released, i am loathe to have the other names released becuase this bs was supposed to be anonymous.

i'm just so disgusted by the way this whole steroid issue has been handled.

15 Dimelo   ~  Feb 9, 2009 10:47 am

Pete Abe made this comment in the comments section of his site, it makes a ton of sense to me:
===
Peter Abraham February 9th, 2009 at 12:26 am

Alex is twice the player Bonds is. Better fielder, better athlete, better base runner. He did things by the age of 30 that nobody had ever done. How can he not be the face of the steroids era? He supposed to be the guy who solved the problem.

Meanwhile, Betsy, just consider this.

Alex gets a huge contract in 2001. He’s set for life. Meanwhile in 2002, it become known that there will be survey test of every player. Are we to suddenly believe that in 2003 he decided to take up steroids for the first time? That is implausible.

But let’s say he did. So he won the 2003 MVP (his first) and then said, “Well, I’m going to stop now.” That seems very unlikely.

The drug he took was prized for two things: it’s lack of side effects and how difficult it was to detect. It also is very expensive. This isn’t Kirk Radomski sending crude anabolics to assorted scrubs. This was state-of-the-art PEDs.

The whole thing stinks. You just can’t believe anything about these guys. If a guy with all the natural ability Alex has decided to cheat, then who didn’t?

==
I don't believe ARod has ever been clean, but I don't really care much about PED usage anyway, but what I won't do is say ARod was clean this year but not this year. You are making suppositions there that will only let you down down the road and make you look foolish.

Just like the spouse who cheats and gets caught, "that was the first and only time". Why the eff would anyone ever admit the entire history?

16 rbj   ~  Feb 9, 2009 10:49 am

[11], [12] Thanks. I thought it was odd that there was a potentiality for tipping off players. I hate conspiracy theories, but given the way the whole steroids thing has unfolded I just don't trust Selig or the owners or the agents, along with the players and the union. The fact that 8% of players got caught in the 2003 test, when they knew such a test was coming says a lot about their intelligence level.

Gawd it stinks that Jose Canseco seems to be the most honest player out there.

17 bp1   ~  Feb 9, 2009 10:50 am

Mentioned this to some friends today.

What if A-Rod comes out and says something like "I got caught up in a bad crowd, did some dumb things, and learned a hard lesson. I've been clean since '03. It was hard to get off the stuff, but I did and my mind is clear. I'm sorry I did it."

Is there forgiveness? Why are steroids treated differently than cocaine or other street drugs? Doc and Straw get standing-O's when the show up at ballparks these days, but people want Bonds and A-Rod lynched.

Crazy world we live in.

Very soon, some doc is going to synthesize some drug that has all the positives of steroids without the negatives. You know it will happen 'cause there is huge money at stake. What then?

18 Dimelo   ~  Feb 9, 2009 10:55 am

[17] That makes no sense, ARod does steroids only this one time and he expects us to believe that. If he did that, he's dumber than I thought, that's about as ludicrous as saying you smoked pot and didn't inhale.

Street drugs affect more people in a lot of families, so a good amount of the public can identify with Straw or Doc. Not too many families have steroid abusers.

19 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Feb 9, 2009 10:56 am

I've differed (quietly) from william on the line he takes that steroids may not or do not help (much). I find the point to be interesting but not central. Corked bats apparently don't actually help, either. The ethics don't turn, for me, on how MUCH benefit is gained, and - frankly - the stats from that decade do raise a kind of 'facts speak for themselves' for me, along with - honestly - some of the body-types photos show, and which we ignored for a long time, or made cute jokes about. You know, 'Jason shrank!' or 'Where did Pudge disappear to?'

But I have to say I am with him, and with Neyer (though Neyer is kind of all-apocalyptic, isn't he? "I will not sit idly by ...'!) as to the thundering denunciations and rhetoric being invoked here by some writers, as Diane links above. Maybe Neyer's going all Emile Zola on us (see Dreyfuss trial!) because he's reacting to the hysteria the other way.

I don't think, by the way, that the 'most interesting' issue or the 'biggest' is the breach of confidentiality, but it sure is a REAL issue. Still, it has happened before. Selectivity (one name, only one) is a part of that mess. My problem is that punishing/jailing/harassing the reporters or sources doesn't do a whole lot to address BASEBALL'S issue, does it? (Getting clear on what Gene Orza did is a different matter.)

20 Simone   ~  Feb 9, 2009 10:56 am

I do like how the revelation of Alex's PED use has silenced the asterisk talk and the Hall of Fame ban for these players from some sports reporters and fans. I have always believe that Bonds was scapegoated and made to eat the sins of a whole era. No one will never know the extent of the cheating, but it definitely appears that just about every single one of the best players in this ear cheated. I have hope that Frank Thomas didn't, but I guess, you really never know.

Here ends the hypocritical pretense that the cheaters can be sorted from the innocent. No more debate or finger pointing or selectively scapegoating specific players. Everyone who is eligible statistically should go into the Hall, from Bonds to McGwire to Sosa to Palmeiro to Alex Rodriguez. No asterisks, but feel free to put up a plaque that damns, the commissioner, owners, organizations, players, media, and fans who all looked the other way.

21 williamnyy23   ~  Feb 9, 2009 11:01 am

Yesterday, I argued that before we raise the pitch forks, we should at least learn a little about what Arod allegedly took. Courtesy of the Neyer blog is a link that does that: http://tinyurl.com/dzok36.

22 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Feb 9, 2009 11:03 am

Sorry, one more note. Diane quotes, and agrees with:

"He’s a raging narcissist, consumed so much by the idea of himself that his actions made it crumble into an ironic pile of rubble."

Honestly, I don't see the connection. Why does his (possibly, until we know more) buying in to the PED culture of the day, along with 100+ named players (and however many others were skipped on that test, or passed it by going clean for a bit, or starting after) mean HE is uniquely narcissistic? I think the word is wrong here for a lot of reasons, not least of which is the leap to psychoanalyze. If you want to cite his (smug) denial on 60 Minutes, that was a clearly coached line, and who - really - isn't denying until forced to deal?

23 Dimelo   ~  Feb 9, 2009 11:06 am

[20] Yeah, I agree 100%. What I also find abhorrent and appalling is when Bonds grand jury testimony was leaked, I was pissed because of how illegal that was and our rights were being compromised.

Everyone was OK with it because it was Bonds and, eff Bonds, but now that it happens to our own and someone who isn't Bonds people want to be outraged. We should always be outraged when things aren't right, no matter who the person is. I'm no Bonds fan and I think even ARod has more redeeming qualities, but it still doesn't make it right when sealed grand jury testimony is leaked to the public.

If I had communicated with a friend of mine who got caught on federal charges for conspiracy, distribution of narcotics, etc, and it was part of a grand jury evidence that was presented as part of the govt's case, would I want that information leaked to my employer or the newspaper? No.

24 williamnyy23   ~  Feb 9, 2009 11:07 am

[14] I don't want the names released because: (1) they were supposed to be confidential tests, and I value contractual integrity; and (2) they are part of sealed grand jury testimony, and I value the integrity of our justice system. Those things seem to be much more important than trying to find out who took what, especially when we really don't know what "what" it is or what effect it has anyway.

25 bp1   ~  Feb 9, 2009 11:10 am

[18] I agree that I would roll my eyes if A-Rod said he just did it once and it was a mistake. But the case remains - steroids are less of a national problem then street drugs. Anyone think otherwise? But street drug users get a pass (for the most part) 'cause it's an addiction. They get treatment at celebrity rehab centers, counseling, teary eyed interviews with Katie Couric, and eventual redemption (if they can get clean). If they can return to their former glory, their story is the stuff of movies. Steroid users, on the other hand, are branded a cheater forever and do not have a chance to rehabilitate their name even if they get off the junk. People would prefer they disappear and their names purged from the record books.

I'm not trying to defend A-Rod, or blast Doc and Straw. I'm just trying to get this straight in my head.

What a friggin mess.

(sigh)

26 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Feb 9, 2009 11:10 am

Simone, a good post and perspective ... though I think you are VERY optimistic that asterisk talk has gone away. Just as likely someone will propose a moratorium on Hall admissions, for all players who were in their prime in a certain decade! I entirely agree that Bonds has been made poster boy/villain, in very large part because he's outstandingly good AND intensely disliked. And, hmm, that remind anyone of a certain Yankee 3rd baseman? Of course Alex's 'crime' is caring too much about being liked, according to many.

The costs and resources involved in 'nailing' Barry Bonds for perjury, by the way AND the prosecutorial abuses (which include seizing and asserting access to 104 names when the warrant was for 10 associated with Balco) is a whole 'nother rant. I have to go back (when there's time!) and review the Clemens issue, how it got to Washington, but my memory is that Roger actually pushed for it, didn't just 'welcome' it and he's been defaming and suing another party, aggressively. Best I know, Barry did nothing of the sort.

27 The Hawk   ~  Feb 9, 2009 11:17 am

[17] Forgiveness is kind of beside the point. This isn't really a matter of hurt feelings - a brief ethical lapse (best case scenario, that is) can be forgiven, but the numbers will be tainted, and trust probably can't be fully restored.

I for one believe an asterisk (or whatever) is still wholly appropriate. If the era is tainted, so be it - that doesn't mean it shouldn't be noted as such in the individual records.

I had this terrible idea: Imagine if Mariano Rivera was revealed as a PED user. That would be devastating.

28 Dimelo   ~  Feb 9, 2009 11:23 am

[24] I agree, but I also found the outrage about Micahel Phelps stupid. I'm probably not the right source for commenting on drug usage, I think it's only the problem of the person who got caught. They don't owe me an apology.

Someone asked me this weekend, were you ever hurt by a player who took drugs (PED or illegal)? The only time I can think of where I was really bothered by that was with Lawrence Taylor. I remember a cousin of mine telling me, "admire them for their talent and what they accomplish for what they are known for, if you think they walk on water then you will always be disappointed".

I love Abraham Lincoln for his ability to take a stance on something he always knew was immoral, I don't admire him for his ability to hit a baseball. There's a distinction people need to draw about the people we root for, they are ultimately as human as each and everyone of us, they commit a lot of the same mistakes that our uncles, parents, cousins, and ourselves make. Very few people can live their entire life w/o a few skeletons lurking behind them.

29 bp1   ~  Feb 9, 2009 11:24 am

[26] Right - but where does A-Rod go from here? Is there a path for him like there was for Doc and Straw? Clemens and Bonds were near the end of their career when they got caught up in this. A-Rod has 9 years left on his current contract. Is there a path to redemption?!? If not - what happens now? If he comes clean and tells us - what next?

I repeat - what a friggin mess. I'd so much rather be talking about rotations and lineups then this crap.

30 Benjamin Kabak   ~  Feb 9, 2009 11:24 am

If you're going to link to articles that sound as absurd as Jayson Stark's rant about A-Rod, you should expand the News of the Day links to cover what the other Yankee blogs are saying. They're generally better written and more coherent than Stark's stuff. And I'm not just saying that as the proprietor of one of those sites.

31 Jeterian Swing   ~  Feb 9, 2009 11:26 am

For the record, I'm personally not especially bothered by the use of PEDs, essentially because the definition of "PED" is necessarily so vague, and also because, based on the rate of advances in medical technology, in 50 - 100 years (assuming human civilization hasn't destroyed itself) athletes will basically be cyborgs, with totally artifically repaired bodies. (Honestly, in terms of "performance enhancement" and the so-called purity of MLB records, I imagine Babe Ruth would find laser vision surgery to tip the scales as much as steroids.)

However, the following practical questions boggle my mind:

This reporter is making, what, $75K a year? Maybe she got a $200K advance on this book? HOW IS IT POSSIBLE that the Yankees -- a multibillion dollar organization that invested $300 MILLION in A-Rod -- did not know about this positive test?

And if they did know, HOW IS IT POSSIBLE that they invested this money without making sure that evidence would never see the light of day?

A-Rod’s contract is essentially structured so that he will be rewarded for setting a “clean” HR record. HOW IS IT POSSIBLE that said contract includes NO language wherein the deal is off if ANY evidence of steroid use, past or present, rears its ugly head?

After Giambi? The Yankees did not see it necessary to include such clauses?

That’s INEXCUSABLE!

This contract was dubious to begin with -- but justifiable insofar as the player would presumably be productive through the first six years and the team would presumably reap countless financial rewards for him surpassing Bonds’ record sometime during year 8 or so. Now? The contract is an albatross! The added value is worthless! Nonexistent! In a Depression economy!! And because the Yankees did not do their due diligence?!

You mean to tell me the Yankees invested $300 million in a player -- whom they surely deemed to be worth at least twice that much in revenue -- and they did not know about this? That they did not *plan* for this?

Again, this is not a reaction to A-Rod's alleged PED usage -- because none of us understand the context, so our moral indignation is childish and myopic -- however I find it inconceivable that the Yankees braintrust could be so arrogant/naive as to not have been aware of this test or A-Rod's drug history, and to not have a plan in place for this contingency.

32 The Hawk   ~  Feb 9, 2009 11:29 am

If doing blow until your nose fell off gave an on-field advantage, there might be more outcry. It's the intent to gain an unfair advantage that's the problem. Doc Gooden was trying to get high; that's another issue entirely.

33 The Hawk   ~  Feb 9, 2009 11:31 am

[30] Agreed

34 Ken_P   ~  Feb 9, 2009 11:32 am

I've said it before and I'll say it again: if your only objection to steroid use is the holier-than-thou moralism of "cheating", then the simplest solution is to give steroids freely and openly to all players. As long as the playing field is level, does it really matter?

I'm only half kidding, but I'm sick to death of this whole media manufactured "scandal". First, there's no conclusive evidence that there is any actual benefit to be gained from use of these drugs, and second, why are we getting so worked up about players who want to make themselves better? Doesn't it benefit the game to have as many players as possible performing at the highest possible level? By all means, we should keep these drugs out of the hands of kids, and educate them on the potentially devastating consequences to their long term health, but we can't instantly villianize anybody who ever touched a syringe. It's just not that simple.

35 Dimelo   ~  Feb 9, 2009 11:34 am

[30] Yeah, the Yankees have 9 more years of this mess and it is squarely on their shoulder for not being able to just turn their back on him. No one to blame here except themselves.

36 The Hawk   ~  Feb 9, 2009 11:38 am

[33] It's ludicrous to assert that objecting to cheating is somehow "holier-than-thou moralism".

37 The 13th   ~  Feb 9, 2009 11:44 am

Is it really that suprising that players would do whatever they thought could give them a competitive advantage? Especially within a system that, at best, turned a blind eye towards PED use and, at worst, encouraged it.

As for cheating, that's almost as old as baseball itself. Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry. Where's the moral outrage over that?

38 The Hawk   ~  Feb 9, 2009 11:47 am

Okay so let's say fuck it - who cares about cheating? It's not like it messes with the integrity of the game or anything. From now on, cheating is okay. We won't even call it cheating because if it's okay, then technically it's not even cheating anymore. We'll just call it ... playing the game. I don't care if batters go up to the plate with knight's armor and the pitcher shoots them with a bazooka. "Strike one, yerrrrr ouuuut!!!"

39 ms october   ~  Feb 9, 2009 11:53 am

the idea of peds and cheating seems to be a hot topic this morning as it was after the mitchell report. my take is:
there is not a clear understanding of how much peds impact performance.
however, it is naive to think it doesn't have some impact, if only psychological, or peds would not have been as prevalent.
we also don't truly know the side-effects of peds and how harmful they are and which are more or less harmful, etc.
if there are serious health concerns for adult male users this matters.
so, if peds give the user a performance advantage and if they also have harmful health effects, thereby creating a moral and health conundrum - then we have to take this into account and i believe they are in a different category of cheating than some of the other issues brought up (greenies, spitballs, stealing signs, etc).

40 williamnyy23   ~  Feb 9, 2009 11:57 am

[31] Without breaking the law, or trying to coerce someone into breaking the law, I am not sure how the Yankees could have know. George Steinbrenner kind of tried something like that with Howie Spira and look where it got him.

[35] I look at it as the Yankees have a great player under contract for a long time. I think that's a good thing.

[36] Unless you don't agree with the absolute terms being used to associate PED use with cheating. If you are working in a dont ask, dont tell environment, it seems hypocritical to condemn the behavior after the fact.

[37] Exactly...I am waiting for the article calling into question every record set since the advent of amphetamines in the clubhouse.

41 Dimelo   ~  Feb 9, 2009 11:58 am

[37] I would love to see a pitcher shoot a batter with a bazooka. Can we have Beckett or that scrappy PEDroia be the first batters?

42 Ken_P   ~  Feb 9, 2009 11:58 am

[36] I'd go so far as too say that people have been cheating at sports for as long as sports have been played. You think the first Olympians in ancient Greece wouldn't have done anything and everything to get ahead of the competition?

[37] This is my point: I don't believe that PED use has in any way affected the integrity of the game. The personal integrity of the users, sure, but that's a completely different issue. The black sox affected the integrity of the game by trying to fix the outcome of the world series. Pete Rose affected the integrity of the game by gambling on games he was involved in. Bonds, Clemens, Arod, etc. have done no such thing. They attempted to make themselves better players. Was it by highly questionable means, certainly. Did it destroy the integrity of competition (considering that we now have ample evidence that players at all levels had access to, and used PEDs), no.

43 williamnyy23   ~  Feb 9, 2009 12:00 pm

[38] If MLB didn't check bazookas to make sure they were really bats, and then didn't punish the player for being caught with a bazooka, you'd be making a valid comparison.

44 williamnyy23   ~  Feb 9, 2009 12:06 pm

[39] You raise some excellent points, but that's why it is counterproductive to simply lump everything into the category of PEDs. For example, everyone is up and arms about HGH, but studies show it has no performance enhancing effect. MLB should be funded research to determine if that is conclusive...this way, they could save time and money trying to come up with a test for it.

Your last point is the most relevant. MLB should have strict rules against PEDs because of the potential health risks to the players. Put another way, it is bad for business if your best players are dropping dead prematurely.

Instead of health, the media and fans have seized onto the integrity of the stats. Of course, under that criteria, amphetamines are elevated to the status of anabolic steroids, so you wind up back where we started.

45 MichiganYankee   ~  Feb 9, 2009 12:11 pm

[17] [18] If it weren't for the tipping accusation, A-Rod would have an easy escape route: "I stopped because I didn't want to get caught, and then I realized how much healthier I was when my body was clear of the stuff ...."

The tipping accuation makes everything really murky, and not just for A-Rod. Until now, we have assumed that 98% of players have been clean since 2004, but if the testing program is rigged all bets are off.

46 The Hawk   ~  Feb 9, 2009 12:16 pm

[42] It's not a comparison, it's a description of the new paradigm. Get on board now while the gettin's good!

47 Jeterian Swing   ~  Feb 9, 2009 12:21 pm

[43] But how can those potential health risks be calculated? Different chemicals affect different people differently. (And anyway, you're probably taking a greater risk having a ball rocketing toward you at 100 mph than you are by using a carefully rationed cocktail of PEDs administered by a doctor.)

As you suggest, the stats have no integrity, because the context is ever-changing. The only rational solution is to regularly test for very specific ILLEGAL substances, and make those tests and their results transparent to the fans and media; if those substances are not located by the testing in place, the player is clean and the numbers stand. But these moral arguments have no beginning, no end, and no logic.

48 MichiganYankee   ~  Feb 9, 2009 12:23 pm

[21] I believe that the "narcisist" label was meant the distinguish the "superstar" steroid user from the more prevelant, financially motivated user. Most players implicated in the Mitchell Report and other steroid hunts have been minor leaguers trying to make it over the hump, players trying to boost their values before crossing the arbitration or free agency thresholds or the Todd Pratts of the world who fight every year for a major league BUC job. Bonds, Clemens and A-Rod, by contrast, had no such financial motivations. They were already at the tops of their professions and wanted to make themselves larger than life. Passan and Diane call that narcissm. I find it hard to disagree.

49 MichiganYankee   ~  Feb 9, 2009 12:29 pm

[47] BTW, Steve Goldman (http://pinstripedbible.mlblogs.com/) echoes the "narcissm" charge:

4. Given the chimerical (sic) benefits of PED usage and the fact that Rodriguez lacked the monetary incentives to use that seem to inspire most of the aforementioned fringe-type users, I am forced to fall back on one of the great explanations for everything, vanity. We already knew, or suspected, that Rodriguez was something of a narcissist. This is the confirmation.

50 williamnyy23   ~  Feb 9, 2009 12:32 pm

[48] Even when Arod takes a steroid, it seems like everyone wants to pyscho-analyze him and read deeper into it. Why can't he just be one of many people who found something he thought would help him peform?

51 MichiganYankee   ~  Feb 9, 2009 12:43 pm

[19] "and - frankly - the stats from that decade do raise a kind of ‘facts speak for themselves’ for me."

Not really. The stats are pretty murky. PEDs probably contributed to the power explosion of the late nineties, but so did juiced balls, maple bats, a smaller strike zone, smaller parks and diluted pitching talent due to expansion.

Naturally, we need to view individual accomplishments within the contexts of their eras. Fifty home runs in 1998 should be no more impressive than thirty homers in 1968. But eras have always varied. The implication of the steroid-era-asterik crowd that statistics were compiled on an historical even playing field until 1995 is hogwash.

52 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Feb 9, 2009 12:44 pm

Thanks, william ... that was my point up above, in part - the impulse to psychoanalyze (and in any case it is misusing the word 'narcissist' if it is employed in a psychiatric way as opposed to pop culture). I'm also a bit surprised to see the allegation that the only non-narcissistic, non-vanity reason to use PEDs is ... money? Wow. I mean, did Alex have to keep going through those killer workouts Torre describes once he'd signed for his 250 million? Those were just narcissism? The guys who sign for big dollars and start slacking off are the mentally healthy ones?

53 williamnyy23   ~  Feb 9, 2009 12:47 pm

[52] In that case, I guess Manny is the most well adjusted of us all...how's that for irony.

54 Shaun P.   ~  Feb 9, 2009 12:48 pm

[22] Agree 100% Dimelo. The worst part is that Williams and Fainaru-Wada then wrote a book using that previously sealed grand jury testimony - and they and their publisher PROFITED from it! We weren't talking about national security - no Pentagon Papers here - and AFAIC, those guys had no excuse, NONE, for doing what they did. Yet when were they or their publisher ever called to task?

[23] I am confused. My understanding is that the list of codes corresponding to the 104 players who failed the 2003 survey testing, and the list that matches names to codes, were not part of sealed grand jury testimony, but rather, were part of a confidentiality agreement between MLB and the MLBPA. The feds, as part of the Bonds/BALCO mess, filed a subpoena to get them (ostensibly to find out if Bonds had failed that testing). The MLBPA had to comply. Thus, whoever leaked A-Rod's name either violated the confidentiality agreement (if it was someone with MLB or the MLBPA), or didn't care to maintain the confidentiality of the lists (someone with the US Attorneys office). In either situation, I find the action reprehensible, but I'm not even sure that its a crime. Thus, its not nearly the same as leaking sealed grand jury testimony.

And on that note, I want to see the other 103 names, dammit.

55 bp1   ~  Feb 9, 2009 12:50 pm

[48] One could easily argue that he felt he had to take to live up to the immense pressure of a $252 million contract. He had to be the best, because he was being paid the most, and one way to help him be the best is to stay up with the crop of steroid users. Or Goldman could conclude he was vain and narcissistic because he didn't need the money.

There are a million ways to look at this, and none of us know for sure why he did what he is being accused of. Certainly not Goldman. People who hated the guy for other reasons will circle him like sharks now that they smell blood. I see no road to redemption for him. He's not the lovable guy like Andy or Giambi. He's closer to Barry Bonds, and he's gonna get creamed.

Kinda sickening, really.

56 Shaun P.   ~  Feb 9, 2009 12:57 pm

[20] Simone, to me, the scapegoat for all of this is McGwire, not Bonds. Why is McGwire not in the Hall? Because of suspicions and a misquoted, taken out of context, two or three lines of testimony. That's it. Read the whole thing and the "I'm not here to talk about the past" line makes a lot more sense.

Bonds, at least, gets his day in court. He'll always be guilty to some people, but when he's found innocent of the 11 indictment counts, he will always be able to point to that and say, "A federal court found me innocent."

McGwire has nothing.

In the meantime, I can't wait for Cliff's season previews, because I'm already resigned to not being able to read anything in any traditional sports media thanks this mess.

57 The Hawk   ~  Feb 9, 2009 1:03 pm

[49] Psychoanalyzing A Rod has just become a habit, I think ... Probably not a good one, and in this case, yeah - the answer is pretty clear as to why he'd do it - for the same reason as anyone else.

58 Yankee Mama   ~  Feb 9, 2009 1:09 pm

I have a most inspired solution: create a new baseball league called the Juice League. There, let anyone who chooses, to dope, juice, inject, imbibe cutting edge supplements from Roumania. They can have 40 inch necks and shrinking genitalia. They can even have special trainers who are educated in "sports enhancers." They'll even rub testicles with hot, greasy liniment.

They can have their own Hall of Shame where they compare body measurements. Or, gage their raging tempers by how many bat boys they throw at a reporter.

I know I'm being cynical, but.......

59 UKRoss   ~  Feb 9, 2009 1:16 pm

[43] "For example, everyone is up and arms about HGH, but studies show it has no performance enhancing effect."

What studies? Say what you like about everything else, but the fact about HGH is that if you are on the field instead of in the trainers room because of its ability to heal you quicker then i'd say that your performance is going to be greatly improved. i.e, the athlete is actually performing.

And those who are unsure as to how significant PED's are to performance, i guess we never know, but take a look at the risks players are willing to take and it should be clear. plus look at brian roberts numbers from 04 to 05 (4HR's .376slg, 18HR's .515slg) makes you wonder.

60 Simone   ~  Feb 9, 2009 1:18 pm

[22] Dimelo, you nailed why I don't take the convenient outrage over the leaking of Alex's positive test seriously, in fact I laugh at the hypocrisy. Where was the outrage when it happened to Bonds? In San Francisco alone. Few others else gave a damn. I didn't cry when the lawyer who leaked the grand jury testimony got 2.5 years in prison.

As long as they weren't lying or spreading propaganda like Judith Miller, I have no problem with reporters doing their jobs and pursuing their careers.

[25] Horace Clarke Era, it is incredulous all the resources spent on the case to pursue Bonds all these years. That IRS agent who is always in the media as a hero pursuing Bonds, clearly has nothing better to do like investigate the shell companies that corporations use to avoid paying taxes. What a waste of my tax dollars. The money could have gone to developing and implementing a public health awareness program to prevent young people from using PEDs.

Bet all those people gleeful that Bonds could go to prison aren't so happy that Clemens' turn is coming.

61 Yankee Mama   ~  Feb 9, 2009 1:19 pm

That's the whole point. Now, we'll be wondering. First Brian Roberts and then anyone else who has a break out year or whose stats are an anomaly. The era of trust is gone as of this day. That's the true paradigm shift.

62 RagingTartabull   ~  Feb 9, 2009 1:22 pm

I don't know if this has been mentioned, but word is that A-Rod is going to sit down with Gammons on SC tonight

63 Ken_P   ~  Feb 9, 2009 1:25 pm

[58] Say what you like about everything else, but the fact about HGH is that if you are on the field instead of in the trainers room because of its ability to heal you quicker then i’d say that your performance is going to be greatly improved. i.e, the athlete is actually performing.

By that logic, no pitcher who has ever had Tommy John surgery should be allowed into the Hall of Fame.

There's a huge difference between performing to the best of your ability and enhancing that ability beyond what you would normally be able to do. I'm certainly not convinced about the latter, but the former seems more plausible. Yes the players are idiots for sacrificing their long term health, but I don't look to baseball players for role models. Again I ask, how, exactly, have these players harmed the game by trying to be better?

64 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Feb 9, 2009 1:32 pm

[52] william, I am a bad person (non-steroidal subtype) and can't resist.

Your referencing your own post [52] in post number 52 just PROVES, to the whole world out there that ... you're a narcissist! Go on tv and apologize! (Fix your hair first!)

65 UKRoss   ~  Feb 9, 2009 1:34 pm

[62] I don't remember a pitcher having to come out in Spring Training and apologise for having Tommy John Surgery.

66 The Hawk   ~  Feb 9, 2009 1:38 pm

[62] They're not just "trying to be better" ... talk about a straw man. They are breaking the rules and thus gaining an advantage over those who follow the rules. Every juiced up home run or strikeout or stolen base harms the game. If PEDs were allowed, it would be different. But the league has made a (I believe wise) distinction in terms of what constitutes merely trying to get better and what constitutes artificial enhancement, and these bozos are flagrantly going against that.

67 Yankee Mama   ~  Feb 9, 2009 1:44 pm

That's preceisely why they should have their own league.

68 Ken_P   ~  Feb 9, 2009 1:55 pm

[64] That's an arbitrary distinction between "good" healing and "bad" healing. Tommy John underwent an incredibly risky and completely untested procedure to have a shot at going back on the field, and was hailed as a hero for it. Players who use PEDs for the same purpose are reviled. I want to know why.

[65] You haven't answered my question about how they harmed the game. You just stated without any evidence that PEDs are bad, and then used that as the basis of your conclusion that users must therefore have harmed the game, but offer no reasoning to support that conclusion.

To be clear: I am not condoning steroid users as people. I think they acted foolishly by risking their health in the pursuit of negligible competitive gain. I have very little respect for those who act so unwisely. I am, however, able to separate my dislike for the actions from my love of the game, and in looking as rationally as I can, fail to see any way in which the competitive core of the game has been compromised.

69 Shaun P.   ~  Feb 9, 2009 2:10 pm

Anyone with any questions as to what hGH does should go over to JC Bradbury's sabernomics blog and read what he's got posted on the subject.

My understanding, from reading what Bradbury has written of the matter, is that this statement “For example, everyone is up and arms about HGH, but studies show it has no performance enhancing effect.” is pretty much right.

70 williamnyy23   ~  Feb 9, 2009 2:18 pm

[69] This is not even secret research, or obscure analysis being done by an internet nerd. The same Congressional hearing that featured Clemens and McNamee also featured a panel of scientists who testified about the lack of evidence linking HGH to performance enhancement. Somehow, that got lost amid the bigger issues...like who atteneded Canseco's BBQ.

71 Dimelo   ~  Feb 9, 2009 2:18 pm

I really think it's not smart to question the merits of a PED and whether or not it enhances performance. I know a bunch of people who smoked pot one time and they say, "I tried it one time and I didn't get high". Should we argue that there's no proof that pot gets you high?

To say you don't care about PED usage is one thing, to say there's no proof that it helps is not smart either. IMHO. Just because a number of players have tried it and it didn't help them then maybe they just SUCK that much - i.e Randy Velarde.

ARod was a juicer, bottom line. I don't care that he is or was a user last night, last year, yesterday or 10 years ago, do I feel differently about him? Ugh, no. I still find the ARod to be a polarizing and highly annoying, but I still root for him to help the Yanks win. What I won't do is defend his usage and say unequivocally that he didn't do it in 2007, or this year or that year, he's quite simply a PED user. Anything else is just noise.

72 Dimelo   ~  Feb 9, 2009 2:23 pm

[68] Why do people take stuff that doesn't help? This isn't Ponce De Leon's fountain of youth we are talking about. Did Ben Johnson take steroids so he can beat the pants out of everyone? If it helps you run faster, where you can get to fly balls that you couldn't get to before, then isn't that an enhancer.

I drink coffee in the morning so I can be more alert at work, that's an enhancer, albeit a legal one. He took an illegal enhancer, how exactly he was enhanced then we are splitting hairs at this point.

73 williamnyy23   ~  Feb 9, 2009 2:24 pm

[71] There are volumes of data showing that marijuana gets you high. No one is making an anecdotal argument when suggesting that not all drugs classified as PEDs are performance enhancers (just like all herbs don't get you high). Instead, they (I) am referring to the lack of research showing that they do enhance performance, as well as research that shows they do not.

Also, defining people by an action seems very slippery to me. I don't think I need to provide examples about how such logic can run astray. You may think that's noise, but ignoring mitigating circumstances strikes me as holding ones hands over their ears.

74 Jeterian Swing   ~  Feb 9, 2009 2:25 pm

Per Francesa (via ESPN), A-Rod has admitted to taking steroids.

75 williamnyy23   ~  Feb 9, 2009 2:27 pm

[72] I just read an article about 10 common home remedies for colds that many people take. The conclusion was that none of them work. Why do people take them? Because they believe they do.

The bottom line is that we have created a very broad category called PEDs without actually caring to find out if the drugs actually do what many think they do.

76 Rich   ~  Feb 9, 2009 2:30 pm

[72] Even granting the point arguendo, the placebo effect is pretty powerful as well.

77 ms october   ~  Feb 9, 2009 2:31 pm

[73] and to gammons of all g-damn people.

the bit i caught arod said the pressure of the contract in texas led him to to use from 2000-2003.

78 williamnyy23   ~  Feb 9, 2009 2:31 pm

He has admitted to taking substances, many of which he doesnt even know, from 2001 to 2003.

79 williamnyy23   ~  Feb 9, 2009 2:32 pm

[77] Gammons is not a bad person...he is pro-Red Sox, but he is fair to players.

80 ms october   ~  Feb 9, 2009 2:33 pm

[76] sorry that should be 2001-2003

81 rbj   ~  Feb 9, 2009 2:33 pm

[73] Just saw that. Sound is off on the tv at work. It's really just about the only thing he could have done, now we'll have to see how extensively he used.

AS for marijuana getting you high, I don't recall that ever happening to me. Of course I was stoned at the time.

82 MichiganYankee   ~  Feb 9, 2009 2:35 pm
83 Dimelo   ~  Feb 9, 2009 2:36 pm

[74] I don't know, Bonds hitting an obscene amount of homeruns at age 36 - 42 sure strikes me as an enhancer. I don't care that they decided to take PEDs, however, when they get caught there's a lot of public backlash they have to deal with. I won't sit here and say it doesn't effect their fast twitch muscles, which is why I hear people take roids.

84 Dimelo   ~  Feb 9, 2009 2:37 pm

[80] Yeah I never remember getting stoned either, so it obviously doesn't work. hahahaha

85 Rich   ~  Feb 9, 2009 2:46 pm

Gammons is the Larry King of baseball interviewers, i.e., he doesn't ask tough follow up questions.

86 The Hawk   ~  Feb 9, 2009 2:47 pm

[67] I absolutely answered your question. If someone does something that affects a game that they couldn't do without PEDs, then the game has been harmed. A fly ball turns into a HR. A ground out turns into an RBI single. A 92 mph fastball turns to a 95 mph fastball, etc. It's pretty simple.

87 Ken_P   ~  Feb 9, 2009 2:57 pm

[84] You answered my questions based on unproven assumptions about the effects of PEDs. You can't make those claims without being able to back them up, and current science can't do that. Also, despite the rules, it's very clear now that many players used, on all levels of ability. It really doesn't seem to have changed the distribution of talent all that much, if at all.

88 The Hawk   ~  Feb 9, 2009 2:58 pm

"He has admitted to taking substances, many of which he doesnt even know, from 2001 to 2003."

Awesome. He's innocent!

89 Rich   ~  Feb 9, 2009 2:59 pm

Release the names of the other players that tested positive. A selective release of those who tested positive is as patently unfair as a selective prosecution.

90 The Hawk   ~  Feb 9, 2009 3:00 pm

[84] Riiiight. But I did answer your question, even if it was based on fringe science that asserts such crazy ideas.

91 rbj   ~  Feb 9, 2009 3:00 pm

New "I confess" thread up.

Hey, even the Banter needs some spring training.

92 The Hawk   ~  Feb 9, 2009 3:03 pm

Wow, the excerpts from the ESPN interview read like A Rod is spinning hard. Though I didn't read any claims that PEDs don't enhance performance. Even he's not gonna try that one.

93 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 9, 2009 4:53 pm

Hey Diane, I know it's still early, but I'm gonna guess you won the straw poll today >;)

94 Shaun P.   ~  Feb 9, 2009 5:10 pm

[81] Dimelo, I hear you, but I just wanted to point out that the four year period in which Hank Aaron hit more home runs than in any other 4 year period of his career was when he was 36, 37, 38, and 39 (including a career high 47 when he was 37). So its not entirely unheard of for a guy to go on a power binge at such an advanced age . . .

[74] "The bottom line is that we have created a very broad category called PEDs without actually caring to find out if the drugs actually do what many think they do."

You're absolutely right, william. I'd also like to point out that its pretty clear that, in other sports football, using steroids clearly provides a huge advantage. People are copycats by nature, so I'm not surprised that baseball players thought to themselves, "Well this will help me, so and so said it helped him!" and then used.

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