Sports Illustrated had it right: Alex Rodriguez, baseball’s $275-million man, was a steroid freak. The no-good cheat confirmed it himself, admitting to ESPN that he injected an illegal mix of performance-enhancing drugs during his final three seasons as a Texas Ranger (2001-2003). “I did take a banned substance,” said the Yankees third baseman, who pocketed $271 in the time in took to say those six words. “I’m guilty for a lot of things. I’m guilty for being negligent, naive, not asking all the right questions.”
Not asking all the right questions? Really, Alex? It sure seems as though answering the questions was your real problem. Like these two, from Katie Couric back in 2007:
“For the record, have you ever used steroids, human growth hormone or any other performance-enhancing substance?”
Couric: “Have you ever been tempted to use any of those things?”
Fast-forward a couple years, and A-Rod is suddenly A-Pologetic, begging his fans (if there really is more than one) to forgive and forget. Ironically enough, he did exactly what so many pundits said Barry Bonds should have done a long time ago: admit wrongdoing, say you’re sorry, and let time heal all wounds. Nobody’s perfect, right?
But after watching Alex try to pass off his excuses as an apology, it’s clear that the New York Post had it right. He is an A-Hole. He broke the rules, he reaped the rewards, and he only confessed to the truth because someone else uncovered it first. That’s not an apology. That’s damage control.
A-Rod may have a legitimate reason to feel singled out. In 2003, when baseball’s steroids era was about to explode, the league and the union agreed to a set of random, anonymous exams that were supposed to establish, once and for all, whether the national pastime really did have a drug problem. The players, Rodriguez included, were assured that the results would never be released—and for more than five years, they weren’t. But when a California lab was raided in connection with the BALCO scandal, federal agents seized the secret results and labeled them as evidence. Now the leaks have begun, with A-Rod—the player with the highest profile and the highest paycheque—being the first to fall. As S.I. reported, 103 others tested positive for banned substances, yet his is the only name to hit the papers.
But let’s not get all teary-eyed. Alex Rodriguez is no victim. He broke the rules of baseball, regardless of how many others followed right along. Steroids were officially banned in 1991, yet there was the league MVP, pumping himself full of Primobolan and testosterone to fatten his biceps, his stat sheet and his bank account.
Not surprisingly, Rodriguez says the juice was all part of the times (or as he put it, that “loosey-goosey era”). There is, after all, ample evidence that both the league and union turned a blind eye to the syringes and the whispers for many years—especially when more home runs equaled more ticket sales. But that logic won’t get Bonds or Rafael Palmeiro or Mark McGwire into the Hall of Fame, and it shouldn’t be enough to send A-Rod to Cooperstown, either. A cheat is a cheat, and they don’t belong in bronze.
If Alex thinks otherwise, then he’s lying yet again. To himself.