Monday, February 9, 2009

After Aroid report, who's to blame?

Not surprised.

That seems to be the general reaction of SI's report that Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003.

Which doesn't make it right. It's just that the more names come out, whether it's Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Jason Giambi, the more you realize that the steroid issue was so wide-sweeping in the late-90s and the earlier part of this decade, it's becoming a non-story.

So, Arod is really Aroid. Add another log on the fire. Yawn. Back to the Manny watch.

The fact that Arod admitted to doing performing-enhancing drugs in a Monday ESPN interview is actually the brightest part of this story. Baseball fans are forgiving of a lot of thing, but we don't like a phonie.

Please don't insult our intelligence with the insistent denials.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not condoning this. And I'm not advocating that 'roids were good for the game. Or that Arod is a hero because he came clean.

Here's the deal: The game knew what was going on and did nothing about it for years and years, while the home run ball exclusively saved its hide and padded its pockets with a revenue stream that no one could have imagined after the 1994 strike.

Talk radio and sports Internet sites have been rampant with the Aroid talk since news broke Saturday and that's exactly what it is - a talker. And it's a slow news day.

But as much as I'm not an Arod fan, seems he's not getting a fair shake here.

The 2003 test when he was with the Texas Rangers was completely anonymous and done just to get a percentage of how many players were actually using. Why the results were not destroyed is the most interesting part of this story.

I've been taking an unscientific poll trying to get an estimate of the percentage of MLB players who were using steroids before testing. The over/under is somewhere around 65 percent.

Think about all the players you've heard come out and preach about how wrong steroids are. How many have done that? Hmmm....

I remember John Smoltz speaking up once. And, um ... well ... uh, hmmm ... lemme get back to you on that.

If there were that many players who have always been clean, don't you think they'd be a little more vocal about this issue?

Is Arod guilty? With this report and admission, the answer is yes. And he's also guilty of lying to Katie Couric in a Dec. 2007 interview, which is exactly why Bonds is in so much hot water. It's not so much that he used 'em, but he lied about it.

And of course Bonds did so to a Grand Jury, which is just a scoch more serious than Katie Couric.

Why players don't come out and admit to using steroids is the biggest mystery. Those who have admitted it to at least some degree -- Pettitte, Giambi and Brian Roberts for starters -- are being treated with much more respect in the court of public opinion than McGwire, Bonds and Clemens who are clinging to their denial like saran wrap on a slab of Alaska Salmon.

I guess it's all about their chances of getting into the Hall of Fame. Popular opinion is that the old-timers voting will never enshrine someone who did performance-enhancing drugs.

But the rub is, that in the next two decades, it may be as high as 7 or 8 out of 10 players on the ballot have "experimented" at some point in their career. The real numbers we won't ever know.

That most were never caught is really not the issue.

The issue is that 1). It was more the rule than the exception and 2). It wasn't illegal. At least not by baseball's rules. So, why hold it against a player when it comes to the Hall?

If anything, blame baseball, and everyone who knowingly kept silent, for not cracking down sooner. Blame the game's greed of filling seats, selling merchandise and signing lucrative TV contracts at any cost.

That is, until Congress intervened. Had they not, we still might not have testing.

For years, MLB looked the other way.

It's about time fans do the same.

Let's move on.

Fantasy Spin: With your draft coming up in the next month or six weeks, you have to ask yourself what this will do to Arod's draft status. Do you drop him out of the first round?

With all the testing going on now, I doubt seriously, he's been using 'em in the past few years. And you saw what he did in 2007. Could that have been 'roid-inflated? Possibly. But the risks of getting caught are just too great. That was probably more about a contract year than anything.

A top-3 pick in most mock drafts, I wouldn't take Arod before 7 or 8 this year, not because his production will suffer because he's off the juice. But because of the pressure. Arod is one of the biggest image guys in the game and he puts tremendous pressure on him. With this news following him around this year, like a Springsteen roadie, you can only imagine many long 0-4 summer nights with 2 Ks.

Will he hit .290, 35 HR an drive in 110? Probably. But don't expect too much more.


jpt said...

You have to blame baseball. You have to blame the Players. And finally, you have to blame the fans.

It was a vicious circle of all three that made the mess that MLB is in now.

What I'd like to know is what else were they using? Speed to keep awake. Beer to go to sleep. Roids to be able to play. Pain meds to stop the hurt of playing.

Anonymous said...

C'mon t-bone. You forgot to blame the players union for making it difficult for owners to crack down on roids.