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News of the Day – 2/9/09
Posted By Diane Firstman On February 9, 2009 @ 8:37 am In Diane Firstman | Comments Disabled
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Article printed from Bronx Banter: http://www.bronxbanterblog.com
URL to article: http://www.bronxbanterblog.com/2009/02/09/news-of-the-day-2909/
URLs in this post:
 Jayson Stark: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=stark_jayson&id=3892788
 Howard Bryant: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=bryant_howard&id=3891297
 Buster Olney: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=olney_buster&id=3890934
 Olney: http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID=3892544&name=olney_buster
 Rob Neyer: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID=3891343&name=Neyer_Rob
 Tyler Kepner: http://bats.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/02/07/questions-of-authenticity-for-alex-rodriguez/
 Jack Curry: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/09/sports/baseball/09yankees.html?ref=baseball
 keep quiet: http://blogs.nypost.com/sports/backpage/archives/2009/02/nelson-to-a-rod.html
 Kevin Kernan: http://www.nypost.com/seven/02082009/sports/yankees/only_the_truth_can_save_rodriguez_now_154034.htm?page=1
 Jeff Passan: http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=jp-arodreax020709&prov=yhoo&type=lgns
 Newsday’s: http://www.newsday.com/sports/baseball/yankees/ny-sprieber0209,0,5327125.column
 Post’s: http://www.nypost.com/seven/02082009/sports/yankees/______but_rehabbing_mo__posada_are_real__154117.htm
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