As several commenters mentioned, there’s nothing like perfect timing. I posted something that just happened to be on A-Rod and headed out the door for a late breakfast with my wife (which included pancakes for the table, by the way) … only to get a call midway through about the SI story. You can’t make this stuff up. Sadly, my company has not provided me with a BlackBerry or iPhone so I had to wait to get back before I could post. Looks like you guys went on just fine without me, though.
I understand that many of you are upset about the news – certainly if I was as big a Yankees fan as most of you, I would be, too. Feeling as though one of your favorite players has a) let you down b) cheated and c) been targeted, or some combination of all of these, is certainly reasonable. But I think it’s unreasonable and unbecoming to lash out at SI or Selena Roberts, and I’ll tell you why:
1. There are FOUR sources cited in this story. Four. Most media outlets would require at least two for a story like this one (though some might need only one), but to have four independent sources indicates to me that they have the information cold. Are anonymous sources irritating to readers? I’m sure they are. I know they bother me sometimes, but they are a necessity in certain cases and I can absolutely understand how this is one of them. That’s why it’s important there be more than just one person saying this is what happened; having four gives it serious validity.
2. Selena Roberts is an excellent reporter, someone who has always done thorough work and is incredibly respected in the journalism business. I do not believe for one second she would “make this up,” as one person wrote to me, or otherwise fabricate it. Add to that Sports Illustrated’s standards and history, and it’s very difficult to believe this story isn’t true.
What does it mean? That’s something I’m planning to spend the next few hours thinking about as I write a column for tomorrow’s newspaper, but I think it’s fair to say this: It means that Alex Rodriguez’s reputation and credibility are severely compromised.
This failed test does not mean he only took steroids one time. It only means that he was caught once, which is a very different thing. Don’t forget, there was no testing prior to 2003 even though using steroids without a prescription was both against MLB rules (though not particularly enforceable or punishable) and illegal in the United States. Also don’t forget that this isn’t one of those GNC slip-ups where someone didn’t read the label or can claim that he didn’t know what was in a supplement. Rodriguez took a serious, injectable steroid, SI says, and one which was more expensive than standard anabolic steroids because it was, among other things, less detectable. Put it this way: That doesn’t sound like a “gateway” drug.
For those who say that A-Rod was “clean ever since then,” make sure you read the sections of the SI report that discuss how a union official allegedly tipped off Rodriguez about upcoming testing – something which adds another layer of conspiracy potential to an already-dramatic revelation.
As for whether this will affect the upcoming season, I don’t see how it can’t. Do I think Rodriguez will go into a shell and be terrible? I don’t. But I also think it’s been proven that Rodriguez has a soft exterior and is prone to distractions. This will most certainly be one. We’re not talking about stupid Madonna stuff anymore. These are real questions about real cheating for a player that has prided himself on being the greatest player of all time.
That was A-Rod’s identity. Now, because of this story, the entirety of his baseball existence is suddenly debatable.