So A-Rod is reportedly holed up in the Bahamas, trying to figure out what comes next. Spring training is, literally, days away, and there are all types of opinions flying around from fans, writers, players and officials about what the SI story on Rodriguez means.
I’ve scanned some of the comments, read all the emails I’ve gotten from you and other readers, and have a few thoughts:
— I believe this story is true. I understand some people may disagree with that, but to me, four sources is four sources and SI has done nothing to give me a reason to disbelieve them. As a journalist myself, I can safely say that it takes a lot of reporting to get a story like that one in print, and it’s something that isn’t done casually.
SI does not have to apologize for printing information it acquired – that is its job, its mission. If you are upset about the name being leaked, that’s absolutely understandable but the person to be upset with is the person who leaked it, not the person who learned of the information and then did exactly what their job tells them to do.
It’s also worth noting that those who claim SI shouldn’t have run the story without the entire list is unreasonable, too: Would it have been great for SI if they had uncovered all 104 names? You bet. That would have been an even better story. But not having the other 103 names doesn’t make discovering A-Rod’s test any less newsworthy. If a reporter found out that the Yankees were going to sign two pitchers but could only learn the identity of one of them, would the reporter print a story about the one name he knew? Of course he would. And you, as fans, would want him to. News is news and A-Rod’s failed test was news with or without the other names.
— There absolutely is a greater issue here. Several, in fact. Those who have talked about that element are correct – to say this is only a story about one player failing a steroid test is myopic. Discussions about how the testing procedure should be changed, as well as changes to the people who oversee it (Selig, Fehr, Orza, etc.) are absolutely necessary and should take place. Same with discussions about the leaks. But …
It’s also a little short-sighted to think that is what the discussion will be about today, tomorrow or even the next day. Fact is, the one player who was outed is universally recognized as the greatest player in the game and plays for the most popular team in the game. There are upsides to being Alex Rodriguez and to being the New York Yankees, and on many days those upsides are wonderful. There are also downsides. And one of those downsides is the amount of public attention and scrutiny.
While some may think fans (or columnists, for that matter) are overreacting in their comments about A-Rod, it’s hardly a stretch to think those people feel some level of betrayal from a star player who has now let them down. Yes, absolutely there are other issues worth examining within this story, but that doesn’t change the fact that people may feel misled and/or hurt by the revelation, and want to vent on it. Frankly, the level of emotion I’ve read – both in comments and other columns, including my own – is about what I would have expected. This is a BIG deal. It just is.
— It’s hard not to wonder how the Yankees feel about what they did with Rodriguez last winter. They were very nearly done with him and, if they’d kept their word about letting him go when he opted out, this would be someone else’s problem right now and for the next decade. But they didn’t. And so now, only a few months after their last steroid superstar (Giambi) finally left, they have another one to handle.
— Here are two things I’m not: A lawyer or a drug-test coordinator. So I can’t necessarily offer up any good advice or answers on a) why those tests weren’t destroyed to begin with; b) what the legality of someone leaking the results to a reporter is; or c) the best way for MLB to overhaul its testing. I can say that, in my mind at least, the biggest difference between leaking info like this and leaking info like the name of a CIA operative is that there is no national security concern with steroid test results. That seems like an obvious (and serious) difference, so it would not surprise me if they are not treated the same way.
In terms of testing, one thing I think would be interesting to see is if there were some kind of way to have a national PED testing agency that covered all professional sports leagues – i.e. if your athletes get paid to play, you’re subject to these codes and standards. That would at least make testing uniform. The problem, of course, is that the unions in these leagues have varying strengths. So, since you – as a Yankee fan – are likely in favor of free agency and no salary cap, that means you have to accept the fact that the MLBPA is going to do whatever it can to make testing and punishment for PEDs as minimally invasive as possible.
— In other news, it seems that Andruw Jones is likely to end up with the Texas Rangers on a minor-league deal. He earlier turned down a minor-league deal from the Yankees.