As we edge ever closer to pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training, it’s a relatively quiet time in Major League Baseball. Sure, the best hitter on the free agent market remains unsigned, but there don’t seem to be many suitors for him. Anyway, it’s fair to state that early February, right after the Super Bowl, is sort of a lull period where not much happens in sports, with the exception of the fantastic NBA All-Star Weekend.
Oh, and maybe this SI report:
In 2003, when he won the American League home run title and the AL Most Valuable Player award as a shortstop for the Texas Rangers, Alex Rodriguez tested positive for two anabolic steroids, four sources have independently told Sports Illustrated.
Rodriguez’s name appears on a list of 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball’s ’03 survey testing, SI’s sources say. As part of a joint agreement with the MLB Players Association, the testing was conducted to determine if it was necessary to impose mandatory random drug testing across the major leagues in 2004.
When approached by an SI reporter on Thursday at a gym in Miami, Rodriguez declined to discuss his 2003 test results. “You’ll have to talk to the union,” said Rodriguez, the Yankees’ third baseman since his trade to New York in February 2004. When asked if there was an explanation for his positive test, he said, “I’m not saying anything.”
In case you forgot:
The announcers asked Canseco directly: “Has A-Rod ever taken steroids”
Perhaps the most damaging news from the SI article is this bombshell:
Three major league players who spoke to SI said that Rodriguez was also tipped by Orza in early September 2004 that he would be tested later that month.
Obviously, A-Rod has been looked upon as the great hope for baseball, the guy who was “doing it all naturally.” As such, the New York media had to find other ways to make his life in the city agonizing. Of course, A-Rod managed to step on about a million landmines on the way — postseason struggles, becoming The Man Without A Country, that mannish stripper in Toronto, the whole Madonna thing, and, most recently, the Joe Torre A-Fraud thing. (I’m doing this off the top of my head, so I may have missed one. Oh yeah!)
Still, for his portrayal as a complete putz and headcase off the field, there wasn’t a lot that stuck to A-Rod in terms of his on-field performance, postseason and “numbers padder” allegations notwithstanding. The angle of his being clean was played up relatively frequently while the national media demonized the likes of Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire.
I suspect it will not be pleasant for Rodriguez to deal with the onslaught that comes from sportswriters all across the country, not so much because they’ll hop aboard their soapbox and decry him for being a poor role model for our children because he’s a cheater (they’ll ignore his “I Got It!” in Toronto or the Slappy McBluelips incident to better make this point) but because it makes them look like the bunch of spoonfed buffoons that they actually are. Your average sports columnist DESPISES having to admit he’s wrong and usually just finds somewhere else to shift the blame, and as someone in the New York market, I can immediately tell you how unlikely it is that any national voice will willingly take his share of the responsibility for perpetuating the notion — and possible, now probable, myth — that the last five years, at the very least, of Rodriguez’s career have been done free of performance enhancing drugs.
So let’s all sit back and wait for the displaced moral outrage of those in the sports groupthink bubble to start filing in. As McGwire and Bonds (and Rafael Palmeiro, if he even counts) might tell A-Rod, it’s not going to be all that pretty.