“Just when I think I'm out, they pull me back in”
I would say that quote works two fold in this situation, because just when we thought we were finished discussing the whole steroid fiasco, (except for a few cases, but really who takes Clemens seriously anymore?) it decides to rear its ugly head yet again.
The quote also works in the sense that for Michael Corleone, as with Rodriguez, a shady past eventually caught up with him. Let's just hope for Alex's sake the end results aren't as tragic.
Do you ever look back and wonder how one event, one moment in time can drastically effect the future? What if Jose Canseco never wrote a book and named names? What if BALCO had never been raided by the federal government? And what if Barry Bonds never lied (assuming all the evidence we currently have before us is true) to a grand jury about using steroids? If Bonds had followed the route set by Jason Giambi and admitted to the grand jury that he had used performance enhancing drugs, the US government probably would never have seized the positive test results from 2003 that were being held by the MLB Players Union. Without a fraction of the US government dedicating itself to uncovering all things steroid related, the MLB players union probably destroys the positive test samples, and Arod is never outed as a steroid user.
But as we are taught when we are young, cheaters never win and your past will always catch up with you. I hope this is the last time I have to discuss steroids in depth, and hopefully now that Arod admitted to using a banned substance the story won't linger as long as it would have if Alex chose to live in a world of denial. However I'm sure someday in the future the other 102 names on the list of positive test results will also be leaked to a reporter, and we'll be having this same conversations all over again.
So what did I make of Arod's sit down interview with Peter Gammons? Aside from the fact that while Arod has dabbled in steroids, he has yet to discover sunblock (did his red skin color not remind anyone else of when Cosmo Kramer buttered himself up and then fell asleep on the roof of his building on Seinfeld?) and I'd say the interview itselfÂ was 60% bull and 40% truth, give or take.
His main reasoning for using steroids, aside from being stupid (duh!), was that he felt pressure to perform and put up monstrous numbers after signing a $252 million dollar contract with the Texas Rangers. I guess I can believe this to a degree, since if we've learned anything from his time in New York it's that Arod is very self aware. But as Tim Kurkjian pointed out on ESPN soon after Arod's interview aired, we'd be as naive as Alex if we believed everything he said. My problem with Alex's reasoning to use steroids was that he showed us in his 5+ years in Seattle that he could put up numbers that hardly anyone could replicate. So if he could be that great in Seattle, and wasn't using steroids at that time as he claims, why couldn't he do the same thing in Texas?
Alex also pointed to the culture of baseball in the early part of the decade as a reasoning for him experimenting with steroids (I lost count of how many times he said culture after hisÂ 30th reference to it). I can imagine that for someone with an ego like Alex has, seeing other players use steroids to elevate their game to elite levels, he became envious and curious. Many claim Barry Bonds started experimenting with steroids after seeing all the attention McGwire and Sosa received in 1998. Still blaming the “culture” is a cop out in my opinion. Didn't Alex's mom ever ask him “if everyone else is jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge, does that mean you should too?”
I also think he was full of it when he said he's glad that the story came out and that he is now able to clear his conscience. I can't imagine anyone would want to be raked across the coals by the media, especially someone whose so protective about his image like Arod. However I'm really not going to harp on the Katie Couric interview from 60 minutes and call him a liar. Obviously he lied in that interview, but did anyone expect him to admit he had tried steroids at that time? When in life does anyone admit something that they think they can get away with? If I run a red light in my car, I'm not going to flag down the next police officer I see and ask him to give me a ticket. I'm going to thank my lucky stars that I didn't get caught. Is that the right thing to do? No not really, but that is just human nature.
Basically I think back in 2001 or possibly even before that, Alex saw a large portion of his colleagues using performance enhancing substances, and probably figured that if he could get away with using and that if it would make him play at a higher level, he'd have nothing to lose. He won't say exactly what he used or where he got it from (more of the BS I talked about from the interview, since a health nut likeÂ Alex would always know what he's putting into his body) but if he really did start using in Texas there were a number of guys in that locker room who could have helped him obtain such substances (Caminiti, Palmerio, Velarde, Pudge, all linked to steroids). Also I do feel bad for the Texas Rangers in all of this, as their clubhouse is being discussed as some sort of a steroid hotbed. When in actuality it doesn't appear steroids were anymore prevalent in their locker room in the early part of the decade then they were in Oakland, New York or any other city as far as we know.
So where does Arod go from here? Well luckily for him he got caught while he is still in his prime. He has at least another 9 years to try and persuade his critics that he can be the best player in baseball without any performance enhancing assistance. What will his punishment be? I'd say his punishment is that no matter how well he does, no matter how many records he breaks or home runs he hits, he'll never be mentioned in the same class as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays. Just a week ago people were already placing him among the upper echelon of elite players that ever played the game, but his name has quickly faded from that list. Â I still think he'll be remembered as one of the best players to ever play the game, but he'll forever have a taint associated with his name. And that's something that for a guy who is supposedly driven by being regarded as the very best, will eat away at him over time.
Looking back at the events that unfolded this past weekend, I find myself disappointed by the whole mess. I'm not surprised Alex was found to have used steroids, nor do I feel sorry for him. I'm sure Arod is deeply sorry as he said in the interview, however he's probably mainly sorry that he got caught while other steroid users continue to lurk in the shadows. But sometimes life isn't fair, and he's the one that got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He'll have to live with the consequences of his action, and according to his interview that's what he intends to do. I will still cheer for him when he takes the field as a member of the NY Yankees in April. I'll cheer for him because he's a member of my favorite team, and as the saying goes “root for the uniform, not the player”. Also I really don't feel bad for the game of baseball or its executives, since it was their refusal to address the problem of steroids in the late 90's which led us to where we are today. I am glad though that they have a strict testing policy in place now, and hopefully the next generation of stars can evolve without any suspicion of cheating surrounding them.
Personally though I still put guys like Arod, Clemens, Bonds, Palmerio, McGwire and Sosa intoÂ the hall of fame. And I
9;m on record as saying this before Arod got caught cheating, so you guys can't call me a Yankee homer or a hypocrite, lol. Because honestly will we ever know who was and wasn't using? Is it fair for us (or the media in this case) to act as the moral gatekeepers of the hall?Â Weren't we the same people that turned a blind eye to the suspicion of cheating when we were being entertained by 500 foot home runs?Â Also where do we draw the line? Â Should Garylord Perry have an asterisk on his plaque because he admitted to deceiving hitters with spitballs, or should Don Sutton have one for using vaseline to doctor balls? I've even heard people say we should throw out all the numbers that were accumulated between 1990 and 2003, aka the steroid era. But I ask you this, is the steroid era anymore tainted then the era before 1947, when African Americans weren't allowed to play in the major leagues. Would we view players stats as being credible if baseball banned all Hispanic players from the league starting this April?Â Obviously I'm using an extreme example here, but I think it gives us something to think about.
Only time will tell how we remember this era in baseball, but there is no changing it now. Let history decide how we remember Bonds, Rodriguez and McGwire. I'll remember them as very very good players who chose an unethical way to gain an advantage.Â Clearly it was wrong and I wish they hadn't done it, but it is what it is.Â Baseball will live on, as it always does.Â As for Alex,Â I'm willing to believe that he hasn't used since 2003, only because if he were using I'd imagine a test would have come back positive by now (unless God forbid another undetectable drug has been created, which is always possible, or an even worse scenario being the players union tipping off players in advance which was suggested but has been denied). However for Alex's sake let's hope he wasn't lying about using before 2001, and that someday down the road another story doesn't come out to prove him to be a liar again.Â Because I'm not blogging on it anymore….
Few other closing notes:
- Former major league pitcher Jim Kaat had an interesting take on cheating and its relation to baseball:
- One person Arod wasn't afraid to hold back on was Sports Illustrated writer Selena Roberts, who originally broke this story on Saturday. Whether or not what Arod said about her stalking him is true, I give her all the credit in the world for breaking this story. However before we go off praising her for being such a great investigative journalist, lets not forget she was front and center in smearing the names of the Duke lacrosse players, who turned out to be innocent of all alleged charges.
- Anyone else wonder if things would have turned out differently for Arod if he took less money to play for the Mets during the contract negotiation of 2001?
- Now that the “monkey is off my back” to quote Alex, will he finally be able to let go of what people think about him and just play baseball?
- I'll be honest, if someone could give me a substance that, although forbidden, could increase my salary by say 30%, I wouldn't hesitate to use it. Truthfully ask yourself that question before you decide to act as the moral police.
- I'm sure Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling, two guys who many considered borderline HOF candidates, just got themselves a few extra votes over the weekend.
- Should the remaining 102 players who tested positive for steroids in 2003 be revealed? Is it fair just to single out Bonds and Arod? Do we really want to go down this road again?
- Little extreme don't you think Bill? I'd say he's the leader of the moral police at this moment, see for yourself:
- I find it funny that a paper like the NY Post rips a player for being being morally irresponsible, then post a headline in the morning paper that says “A-HOLE”.
- If you get a chance google Primobolan, which is the steroid that showed up in Arod's positive drug test. It's quite interesting and helps discredit the belief that all steroid users are supposed to look like bodybuilders.
- Finally (thanks for those who actually read the whole blog) let me end with a quote from Jose Canseco's book “Juiced”:
“What I've learned is that there is a way to stop the aging process, or at least slow it down by 90 percent. If you stick with a program of good nutrition and a consistent approach to fitness, and know the right mix of steroids and growth hormone to take, you should be the same at fifty years old as you are at thirty. We've still got a lot to learn about the power of steroids.”
So I ask you to decide, steroids: evolution or cheating?
Questions and comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading!
About the Author
Written by Joseph Gallo