A-Rod Admits Steroid Use

In an interview with ESPN’s Peter Gammons, A-Rod admitted to using “a banned substance” when he was with Texas from 2001-2003.  Looking red-eyed as if he had been crying, and with a voice that occasionally broke as he paused at length, A-Rod told Gammons

“When I arrived in Texas in 2001, I felt an enormous amount of pressure, felt all the weight of the world on top of me to perform, and perform at a high level every day.”

“Back then, [baseball] was a different culture,” Rodriguez said. “It was very loose. I was young, I was stupid, I was naïve. I wanted to prove to everyone that I was worth being one of the greatest players of all time.

“I did take a banned substance. For that, I am very sorry and deeply regretful.”

I can’t say that I have gained respect for A-Rod after the revelations and events of this past weekend and today.  What he did was wrong, stupid, illegal, and added further weight and damage to the steroids scandal affecting baseball. His legacy in the game is very much in doubt, given the way that players under suspicion such as Mark McGwire have fared in Hall of Fame voting.

But A-Rod did the right thing for himself, the team, the organization, and the game.  He has blunted the level of media attention this would in all likelihood have received through Spring Training and the season.  He’ll still get harangued from fans at home and on the road.  Given his star power and public appearance record, he has a chance to use various forums such as public service announcements to positively influence young kids and aspiring athletes. I’ll afford A-Rod the same sentiment that I did to Andy Pettite last year–he did the right thing, and I’m glad for that.  It also showed a maturity that I honestly did not know he would display.  I feared that he would cling to innocence, d I didn’t believe he was innocent after the SI.com report surfaced.  Come what may, he should be thankful that he didn’t choose that path.

All this is a big disappointment, for I did not harbor strong suspicions that A-Rod was a steroid user because his numbers never jumped through the roof, or his physical appearance noticeably change, as they did for Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, and others.  It could very well be that A-Rod has been clean since 2003, when he said he stopped using them in Spring Training that year.  It could very well be that A-Rod has earned his way with the Yankees for the last five eyars on his own steam. Yet questions will linger about those years and his career as a whole.  It could be that A-Rod simply has acquired better steroids with better masking agents. I don’t know, but I do know that I won’t spend considerable time concerning myself with such suspicions.

A-Rod’s interview also raises and potentially questions about some information in the SI.com report, that Gene Orza tipped off A-Rod to an upcoming test, and that A-Rod knew that he has tested positive the following year.  According to ESPN.com

Rodriguez said he was told by Gene Orza, the chief operating officer of the MLB Players’ Association, that he might, or might not, have tested positive in the 2003 survey. That conversation happened during the 2004 season. A source told ESPN on Saturday that Rodriguez knew he had failed the test.

According to the Mitchell Report, all players who failed the test in 2003 were notified by September 2004.

Rodriguez said he didn’t know for sure he had failed a test until Sports Illustrated contacted him last week.

I have doubts that A-Rod did not know about the failed test result.  I think he might be covering for his (non-)reaction to Roberts’s attempts to interview him.  It also matters little to me right now.  He lied enough in the past about using steroids, and confessed to that now.  But his comment that he did not know what illegal substance he took is odd, and difficult for me to believe.  I’m also still miffed about how this information about A-Rod’s positive test result was released.  The point of the 2003 tests was not only to see if 5% of major-league players were taking banned substances, but also to send notice to all players, however flawed testing was and has been, that they might get caught.  Maybe A-Rod was scared straight with the tests looming, or through the tests.  Only he knows that.  But the federal government’s seizing BALCO’s records clearly resulted in leaks of what were supposed to be anonymous test results.  I don’t know exactly how these were organized by baseball and the MLBPA, nor do I know whether or not this leak violated HIPAA.  But there is no doubt in my mind that the federal government has no right to this information.  What benefit has it definitely produced?  Illegal steroid use has been compounded by illegal leaks of confidential information.  No one should take comfort in that.

Ironically and rightly or wrongly, A-Rod may have gained some measure of support among Yankees fans for how this came to light.  From others, he’ll undoubtedly get a rough ride.  It won’t be from me.  However, for various reasons negative and positive, I won’t view him the same way I did several days ago.

Four days until pitchers and catchers report.  It’s even more difficult for me to wait than usual.

Published in: on February 9, 2009 at 3:18 pm  Comments (9)  

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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Honesty is always the best policy. Good for Alex that he admitted what he did. Lord knows how many public figures have failed to do so. Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, etc. What Alex did was stupid but hopefully this can now begin to blow over.

  2. steve phillips said today that he thinks back in the late 90’s/early 00’s that about 70% of the players were using. this problem lies with owners / mlb-Selig more than players

  3. […] Jason at Heartland Pinstripes says A-Rod did the right thing. …A-Rod did the right thing for himself, the team, the organization, and the game.  He has […]

  4. I will feel a little different to Alex but all I want to do now is support Alex and that is what im gonna do.

    I wish Pete Abe would have stayed away a little longer the guy is really annoying me. His last few post towards Alex have been so full of hate. He does seem biased towards Giambi and not to Alex. I admit the big G was a nicer guy but its like its was ok got the G to come out admit he did it and not Alex. Be fair Pete

  5. You make some great points Jason. Here’s the thing, if he didn’t admit it as bad as his admission was, he would of “really” took a beating by the media.

  6. Interesting point in the interview when Gammons asked him why he lied to Katie Couric. He said something like, “I told myself it was true at the time.” That moment felt very real to me. He did a bad thing and he knew it, and yet he was in total denial about it, hoping it wouldn’t come back to haunt him. Haven’t we all done that sort of thing at one time or another?

  7. Good. He admits it and now we can move on. My next question is what about the other 103? When we find out about them. A-Rod !”#¤% ed -up and now baseball must step-up+ and clean up its act and be hard about it. I hope that the names are spread because this can’t just be a NY problem.
    What about a full-disclosure amnesty for all that have ever done this then year long penalties for those who violate policy afterwards.

  8. Hey, Jason …

    I think Alex Rodriguez took the right approach by admitting he used “performance enhancing drugs” in his interview with Peter Gammons yesterday.

    Even though it is way past the fact, A-Rod was honest about this very sad situation. And, for that I would say most baseball fans, including myself, give A-Rod credit for coming clean about his involvement with PED’s. He still has many questions to answer, though; and, it will be interesting to see how he handles the media when he reports to spring training next week.

    This is just what A-Rod doesn’t need, “another controversy” that puts him center stage on the world stage, again, causing him more distractions to think about on the baseball field. As a Yankees fan, the only center stage I want to see A-Rod on, is during a Yankees World Series victory !!!

    Until Alex Rodriguez receives his first Yankees World Championship ring, the focus will always be on his PED use !!!

    Take care, Jason … Spring Training is just around the corner, and that’s a good thing !!!

    — Jimmy [27NYY], “BY&L”


  9. Lots of good comments, everyone. I too am hopeful, Tim. If nothing else, A-Rod tamped this down a lot.

    I agree that owners and MLB are hip-deep in this Mike, and posted something just now to that effect.

    Thanks to Chris and Trevor at Generation Third for linking my post. They have a good thing going over there for those who don’t read it yet.

    I think you might be right on Pete Abe, Nick. He gives A-Rod a tough go, not without some reason, but looked more on the bright side with Giambi–at least in the last couple years. I’ve not checked how he covered Giambi back in 2005. He might have warmed up to Big G.

    Thanks Sean. I think you’re absolutely right that the media would have trashed A-Rod all season and beyond. It still might happen, but won’t be nearly as bad as a result of his admission.

    That’s a good point, Jane. I haven’t seen the whole interview with Gammons yet, just parts. I wonder if admitting this will get him to loosen up and soar even more.

    It’s a very interesting thought about steroids disclosure Swedski, although I have misgivings about releasing the other 103 names, for reasons I discussed in a post this morning.

    I agree Jimmy. And boy, Spring Training can’t come soon enough.

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