illustration by Samara Pearlstein
So I suppose we all know by now that Alex Rodriguez has admitted to using steroids. Paws knows there’s nothing much going on in the Big Cat World right now, so we may as well talk about it.
A few things stood out in this whole glorious, glorious mess. First of all, A-Rod claims he had no idea what he was taking, blaming youth and naiveté and baseball’s acceptance of Mr. Met’s giant steroid-enhanced head for his unquestioning use of whatever he was given. A-Rod was 25 when he got to Texas (which is when he claims his steroid use began) and had already been in the big leagues for 7 years (five full years). Naive? OK…
He also never says where he got it, even though Peter Gammons specifically asks. This is despite the fact that according to reports he tested positive for testosterone and Primobolan, the latter being an anabolic steroid that is illegal in the US. Not questioning something your doctor or team trainer gives you, that I can understand, but the likelihood of A-Rod getting this stuff from a doctor or team trainer is pretty low, as it can’t be prescribed in the US. I reckon that he evaded this question (the only one, I think, that he straight-up sidestepped) for one of two reasons:
–to avoid implicating someone else… perhaps another player? We’ve seen how popular that sort of thing made Canseco,
–to avoid shedding light on the obviously illegal channels through which he acquired the stuff, which would make it clear that he knew at the time that what he was doing was wrong. This is something that he has basically denied; he repeats over and over that he was stupid, that he was negligent, but the implication is still that, at the time, he thought whatever he was taking was on some level delicious chemical rightness. This is reinforced by his repeated mentions of GNC and the fact that there are things players could get there that would show up on a drug test. Prior to serious steroid testing in MLB, there are few players who would have mistrusted something they bought at a mainstream store like GNC. THAT is perhaps naive. It’s hard to claim naiveté when you’re getting stuff through some plainly illegal route.
Primobolan is not something that A-Rod could have purchased at GNC. I guess my point here is that some people are going to applaud A-Rod for “coming clean” about his steroid use. Even if you set aside his point-blank lie in his 2007 interview with Katie Couric (“Have you ever used a steroid or performance enhancing substance?” “No.” Wah wahhhhh), the fact is that he’s not coming completely clean even now. He saw what happened to Roger Clemens; he (and Scott Boras) knew that he had to admit that he used at the very least. This isn’t really something to commend.
Now, as Tigers fans, what do we care? We already know that having a steroid user on the team doesn’t much affect our day-to-day fandom. I don’t think there’s anyone still delusional enough to believe that Gary Sheffield didn’t use some sort of PED (with the possible exception of Gary Sheffield himself), but if the Tigers needed a big hit and Sheff was at the plate, fans rooted for him, no question.
And, of course, we’ve had plenty of time to recover from the pain of the Nook Logan steroid use revelations– although o! how deeply did they wound us!!
Here’s the thing. One of the things? Here’s A Thing. The positive that snagged A-Rod was one of 104 positive results in a supposedly anonymous 2003 test. Now, despite everything I said above, and despite the fact that I’m not an A-Rod fan for a variety of other, mostly shameless Red Soxian reasons, I do think it’s pure coprolites that his name came out here.
If the test was anonymous it should have friggin’ stayed anonymous. How on earth are they going to get players to submit to anonymous testing for anything else if they know there’s a chance it won’t truly be anonymous at some point down the unethical Road of Ha Ha, Got You Now?
And if names are, for whatever reason, going to come out, it is COMPLETELY unfair that A-Rod’s is the only one we’re hearing. There are 104 players involved here. Maybe none of the others are big, Madonna-humpin’ names. Maybe they’re 103 Fernando Vinas. Maybe some of them tested positive for substances that DID come from places like GNC, substances that were more ambiguous in legality at the time.
I know, I know. On some level, a lot of us don’t even really care anymore. We can recognize that there’s unfairness on all sides: acceptable supplement guidelines are not clearly explained to the players (especially the non-English-speaking players), anonymous testing is anonymous in name only, the development of new undetectable PEDs continues to outpace MLB’s ability to test for them, players are apologetic about cheating only when they’re caught, and on and on and on. And, like I said, on an everyday, ‘this dude is playing for the team I desperately want to win because I am a rabid fan’ level, it’s hard to give a rat’s pelvis.
Still. Just imagine your favorite Tiger in A-Rod’s position. Not the greatest feeling, is it?
I have rambled far afield (as is my wont). Tigers fans, and indeed all baseball fans, should care at least a little bit about A-Rod– and Clemens, and Pettitte, and Giambi, and McGwire, and Sheffield, and Brian Roberts, and Rafael Palmeiro, and Alex Sánchez, and Barry Bonds, and Nook friggin’ Logan. Why? Because if we don’t care, that’s just one more reason for these guys to keep on being naive. They’re going to carry on with the boo hoo hoo stupidity.
The prospect of Trial by Court of Public Opinion isn’t going to stop a player who’s determined to cheat his balls off (literally). But if we deride the snot out of guys like A-Rod, maybe, just maybe, somewhere down the line a couple of players will start thinking twice before slathering themselves with sketchily-obtained creams.
I hadn’t thought of it like that before, but I LIKE it. I’m booing A-Rod for the good of baseball and society! :D
I’m beyond sick of steroids. Now I get to hear about it, AGAIN, with the start of this season.
I’m with Schilling on this one. Baseball needs to air all of the dirty laundry, and do it soon. Everything needs to come out. Steroids are an (ugly) relic of the past and we, as fans, would desperately like to move on.
I hereby resolve the following:
1. Lots of players took steroids not that long ago. LOTS.
2. Some of them were really famous guys, names you’d know.
3. Most of them weren’t.
4. Until 5 years ago, there was no testing, no penalties, no enforcement of any kind, though using PEDs was technically against a decree issued by then-Commish Fay Vincent.
5. Baseball players are, as a group, highly competitive individuals… With no testing and no penalties… Come on, WHAT ELSE DID YOU EXPECT?
6. Comparing across eras is a fool’s errand. You can’t replicate the American League Babe Ruth played in, so you can’t really say if Hank Aaron’s 755 HR or Bonds’ 762 HR are worth more or less than Ruth’s 714. Or pick any other number that is considered hallowed for any reason.
7. We don’t know what players of the past did or didn’t do. Amphetamine use now has testing and penalties, but I haven’t heard Hank Aaron say one word about whether he took greenies or drank the “leaded” or “unleaded” coffee in the clubhouse. Nor have I heard anyone say we should put an asterisk on Pete Rose’s hit record (Pete being a widely admitted vigorous user of greenies).
8. We know Raffy Palmeiro, Jose Canseco, Manny Alexander (remember, you can’t spell “Manny Alexander” without “AAA”), Fernando Vina, Nook Logan and F.P. Santangelo did roids of some kind or another. I don’t see any of them with a “7” as the first digit in their career home run total, nor with individual seasons of 60+ HR. So the vilification of Bonds, McGwire, and now A-Rod can just come to a screeching halt. Really.
9. They have testing now, and penalties. Furthermore, they have improved testing procedures since the testing started, and have also lengthened the penalties.
10. You can take all the roids you want, but you still have to lift the weights.
11. Baseball is still and will always be a skill game. If I start taking steroids tomorrow, it doesn’t mean I’ll be the starting 1st baseman for the Mets next week, because I haven’t learned to hit the curve ball.
In sum, will they just (a) quit all the hyperbole; (b) admit that the greats of The Steroid Era are still mighty fine players, and, yes, Hall-of-Famers; (c) admit that we’ll never know how Steroid Era players compare to the most famous players (Babe Ruth being the prime example), the same as we’ll never know how Hank Greenberg compared to Ruth, either; (d) move forward and focus on the game and how it’s being played, and, yes, those who are caught by the testing and penalties that are currently in place — along with some room for stories on the next generation of chemicals that do not yet have tests available.
Cuz I’m tired of 6-year old test results making news for days on end. Seriously.
We’re all about healing society through Yankee booing here.
Yeah, John, that’s the thing. You’re sick of steroids, I’m sick of steroids, Bud Selig is more than sick of steroids I’m sure, but if we DON’T have all these annoying stories– if this stuff just gets backburnered or swept under the rug– that’s only going to prolong the stupid ‘era’. So I guess we just hafta suffer.
Jeff, I gotta object to #4. It almost doesn’t matter what baseball’s stance on the stuff was– substances like Primobolan were and are illegal in this country. It’s one of the main differences between this ‘era’ and the ‘spit-ball era’ or whatever: cheating within the sport is one thing, riding a gray area while breaking the law is another.
You know what, I’m actually in agreement with you… Mostly in the sense that, if a player gets involved with “shady characters,” then who knows what’s next, maybe they blackmail him into throwing a game that they then gamble on — the worst sin of them all. Look, I’m glad they (owners & players, that is) got their act together. I’m glad they’re testing and that there are penalties nowadays. And I agree that there must be a certain number of steroids stories to keep the owners and players vigilant, because look what happened when there weren’t. Still, I stand by my last 2 sentences (If you consider “Seriously” to be a sentence, that is). When a 6-year old steroid test is news for days on end, that’s where I draw the line. Enough, already. And don’t get me started on Babe Ruth’s dalliances with known gamblers and prostitutes… Talk about opportunities for blackmail.
Paws wonders how quickly A-Roids would jump of the Golden Gate Bridge of other players did.
He didn’t do it because other did it
he did it because he did it
//(“Have you ever used a steroid or performance enhancing substance?” “No.” Wah wahhhhh)//
lol, if you watch that scene of the interview closely, he nods ‘yes’ as he says “No.” I’ve been watching too much Lie to Me.
It’s only ’cause it’s A-Rod, though. I mean, I figure that if the first name of the 104 to come out was a Nook Logan equivalent, the story would have been (relatively) minor. There still would’ve been a story, but not like this.
Weren’t you listening to him, LM? He’s never been a follower!! Except for that time he was…
ivan, LOL. I did not watch that closely, but if that is the case… fantastic observation! :P
This was pretty interesting.
//Speech and body-language experts around the country gave the performance less than stellar reviews yesterday, and said that there were multiple points where Rodriguez looked as though he was being less than truthful.
“The overall impression is not only that he’s lying throughout, but that he’s unwilling to admit full guilt in all of this with his verbiage,” said Patti Wood, a body-language expert who helps teach corporate clients on how to detect deception. “All that lip stuff where he’s pulling his lips in, all this pulling up the left side of his mouth. It shows he’s not willing to admit full guilt in this.”
Smithtown resident Tonya Reiman, author of “The Power of Body Language,” was intrigued by a movement that Rodriguez kept making with his left shoulder.
“He does a lot of that one-armed shoulder shrug,” Reiman said. “Typically, when someone does that, it means they don’t believe their own statement.”//
This bit made me laugh:
//”It kills me to say this because I’m from Boston, but I believe he was telling the truth about not doing steroids when he was with the Yankees. His demeanor there actually seemed sincere.”//
Oh my goodness I love that people ACTUALLY ANALYZED HIS BODY LANGUAGE. Oh maaaaan. Oh baseball. You so crazy, baseball.