To A-Rod’s credit, his response to ESPN after being caught sounded pretty honest. He said he was young and naïve and he wanted to prove he was worth the biggest contract in baseball history. 'Roids were part of the culture of the game then, so he took whatever the other guys were taking that helped them play better.No matter how sincere, one single apology isn't going to win over Rodriguez's toughest critics, but the fact is that he has already done more than Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro and Mark McGwire put together in response to the allegations. Instead of blanket denials and legal threats, he took responsibility, showed accountability, brought water to the raging bonfire instead of gasoline. It's not the end of the story, but it's a step in the right direction.
It might sound shallow, but the guy’s a jock. What do you expect?
I know Rodriguez lied a couple of years back when Katie Couric asked him if he had ever used the juice, but I’m not going to hold that against him. That was the same as asking him if he had ever cheated on his wife. Or asking elected officials if they’re atheists. People don’t answer those questions honestly unless they are under oath or confronted with the evidence against them. Even then, they try to wriggle out of it because if you admit it, you’re dead.
No matter how much you despise him, A-Rod is as much victim as wrongdoer in this ugly saga, unveiled yesterday by SI.com's Selena Roberts and David Epstein. Whatever level of embarrassment A-Rod feels today, the United States government should be 20 times more ashamed...BP colleague Derek Jacques, a lawyer by trade, succinctly explained the story arc of the samples relative to the subpoenas and search warrants:
For A-Rod's name to get out is a journalistic triumph for Roberts, an established, terrific reporter, and Epstein. And it's a disgrace for our government, which couldn't protect this very sensitive information.
While it's too late for A-Rod, it's not too late for our government to be reprimanded some more. We saw it this past week, as Judge Susan Illston indicated that she would not permit some of the crucial evidence that the feds had compiled in their perjury case against Bonds.
Back in 2004, when IRS agent Jeff Novitzky first acquired the testing records, Illston questioned Novitzky's tactics and honesty, as reported by Jonathan Littman of Yahoo!
"I think the government has displayed . . . a callous disregard for constitutional rights," Illston said in open court, according to Littman. "I think it's a seizure beyond what was authorized by the search warrant; therefore, it violates the Fourth Amendment."
The authorities' seizure of the non-BALCO 2003 tests was a little more than "serendipitous." A search warrant is supposed to be very specific, limiting the authorities to only searching for and/or seizing specific items they have probable cause to believe may be evidence of a crime. The IRS search warrant related to baseball players connected to BALCO, and since BALCO was allegedly dealing in PEDs, they had probable cause to think that MLB's survey testing of the players in question would turn up evidence that the players in question were using steroids, possibly sold to them by BALCO. The Feds should have only grabbed the results of those ten players, but they instead wound up seizing the test results for all the more than 1,000 players tested. This was convenient, since they'd requested all the results in a subpoena that the two laboratories were fighting at the time the IRS raided their offices. It's a long story that's still pending appeal.Rodriguez's former teammate Doug Glanville, who writes the occasional Op-Ed piece for the New York Times, was able to looked beyond A-Rod's transgressions, echoing Davidoff's unease with the violation of rights:
I'm not surprised by baseball's extensive drug culture. It's part of the game's history and has as much to do with insecurity as greed. Players have to capitalize on opportunity, and at the hypercompetitive major-league level that’s like threading a needle — no wonder they will do just about anything to get ahead. Not that this justifies taking performance-enhancing drugs.The Daily News' John Harper suggested that the heads of the Major League Baseball Players Association, executive director Donald Fehr and chief operating officer Gene Orza, should roll
But before we get self-righteous, we should look in the mirror and ask ourselves whether exposing A-Rod, or any player for that matter, is worth stepping all over rights, privacy, confidentiality and anonymity.
There is a lot of outrage out there about Alex. Not surprising. But what really surprises me is the lack of outrage about how a confidential and anonymous test could be made public. We seem to gloss over the fact that these players voted to re-open a collectively bargained agreement in a preliminary effort to address the drug problem. When privileged information is shared it effectively hurts anyone who has expected privacy in any circumstance, just as when someone made Brittany Spears's medical records public.
The 2003 test was only supposed to assess whether the number of players using performance-enhancing drugs exceeded a certain threshold. If it did, as part of the agreement, a full drug policy would be instituted in the following testing year. One that was more comprehensive with penalties. This was at least a step in the right direction.
So: if Alex tested positive then, but he hasn't since (and Monday he stated that he’s played clean since joining the Yankees), maybe that program served its purpose as a deterrent. If we take the higher ground and talk about the greater good of the game, then why create trust issues between owners and players by allowing an agreement to be breached this way? It undermines any sense of cooperation.
So now it's likely to get messy again, and scary for players whose names are on that list with, allegedly, A-Rod. You'd think that this might stir up the union's rank-and-file, but players have long been intimidated by the clout Fehr and Orza have held as leaders of the most powerful union in sports, clout earned over decades of tough negotiating that made their membership incredibly wealthy.Orza stood accused of tipping off Rodriguez to a 2004 test, according to Selena Roberts and David Epstein's report, a similar allegation to one voiced in the Mitchell Report that was later attributed to David Segui. In a press release, the union denied any wrongdoing (surprise) and laid out a timeline regarding the federal governemnt's conveniently-timed subpoenas which prevented the relevant samples from being destroyed. Plausible, perhaps, but the union hasn't exactly basked in glory by failing to clarify this until now. And if there's more than a sliver of truth to Harper's description of a union in thrall to a thuggish, unresponsive leadership, now would be a good opportunity for a change of direction.
As such, players have rarely challenged Fehr and Orza in public, or even in meetings behind closed doors. And one former player last night said that even after all the embarrassment brought on by the various steroids incidents, he can't imagine current players overthrowing the union leadership.
It would take an organized movement," the former player said. "And players aren't going to want to get involved with something like that. Players won't do anything that might mess with their careers or their money, and there has always been a feeling that you don't want those guys (Fehr and Orza) mad at you."
In fact, the former player said he preferred not to use his name because even in retirement, he feared the possibility of ramifications for speaking out against Fehr and Orza.
Knowing Alex Rodriguez used PEDs, in the context of those names, isn't information that changes anything. A great baseball player did bad things with the implicit approval — hell, arguably explicit approval—of his peers and his employers. It's cheating, yes, which would be a problem if we hadn't been celebrating cheating in baseball since the days when guys would go first to third over the pitcher's mound. You can argue that it's different in degree, though the widely accepted use of PEDs by peers and superiors, and the use of amphetamines before them, is a strong point against that case. What is clear is that it's not different enough, in degree, to warrant the kind of histrionics we're reading and hearing over this. It's not different enough to turn Alex Rodriguez into a piñata.Colleague Steven Goldman, writing over at YES, offered not one but 11 reactions to the news:
Of course, the screaming is about the screamers. The loudest voices on the evils of steroids in baseball are in the media, and there's probably a dissertation in that notion, because for all that we have to hear about how greedy, evil players have ruined baseball by taking these substances (and then playing well, according to this selective interpretation; no one's ripping Chris Donnels these days), the reason we're talking about this in 2009 is that so many "reporters" — scare quotes earned — went ostrich in 1999. We hear every year around awards time that the people closest to the game know the game better than anyone, because they're in the clubhouse every day, and they talk to everyone, and they have a perspective that outsiders can't possibly understand. For those same people to do a collective Captain Renault, which they've been doing since beating up players for this transgression became acceptable, is shameful. Take your pick: they missed the story, or they were too chicken-shit to report it. In either case, the piling-on now is disgusting.
In the same way that the reporters who vote for the Hall of Fame are going to take their embarrassment out on Mark McGwire, and probably Barry Bonds and Rafael Palmeiro behind him, and god knows who to follow, they should punish themselves as well. I propose that for as long as a clearly qualified Hall of Famer remains on the ballot solely because of steroid allegations—or for that matter, proven use—there should be no J.G. Taylor Spink Award given out to writers. If we're going to allow failures during the "Steroid Era" to affect eligibility for honors, let's make sure we catch everyone who acted shamefully.
3. Most of the players caught taking steroids have been of the most fringe-y types. These fellows did not turn into Barry Bonds or Alex Rodriguez. It's hard to see that they received any benefit at all. When we turn to a Bonds or an A-Rod and say that they received a great benefit from using, not only are we automatically in the realm of conjecture about the basic effects, we're also positing that they received a benefit beyond what other users received. While it is known that certain medications will affect various individuals differently (the impact of side effects varies, for example), it is something of a stretch to say that one guy gets nothing and the next guy gets 50 home runs, or even 10 extra home runs. If you've had radiation administered to your eyes, as I have, you will find out that some people have their vision reduced, and some go completely blind (as I have). One guy in a hundred does not turn into Cyclops of the X-Men and go about shooting bad guys with his optic force beams. That kind of result just isn't on the menu of possibilities.Goldman hits on a great point, one that I made several times in the course of my radio rounds. For every A-Rod or Bonds whose numbers fit into our stereotype of what performance-enhancing drugs do to the statistics of the game, there are dozens of obscure players from the ranks of the BALCO files or the Mitchell Report who saw no discernible improvement. Trying to weed such players out of PECOTA, as some Baseball Prospectus readers have suggested, is a pointless exercise, not only because we have no basis to accurately determine what was used and when, but because the bottom line is that in the grand scheme it makes little difference to our ability to measure performance in retrospect or to forecast it going forward. And trying to wish the numbers away by expunging the record books -- a common theme on the talk radio circuit -- isn't going to happen. If the stats from the 1919 World Series are still on the books, the ones compiled by A-Rod, Clemens, Bonds et al ain't going anywhere.
...5. Rodriguez had the best offensive season of his career in 2007. His 2008 offensive output wasn't too different, when adjusted for context, than his now-tainted 2003 performance. How do we reconcile these things, assuming Rodriguez was clean after 2003 or 2004? Wouldn't it be naïve of us to believe that 2003 was the only time A-Rod was using?
6. Clearly, using PEDs does not help you come up with the big hit in a postseason game.
June 2001 July 2001 August 2001 September 2001 October 2001 November 2001 December 2001 January 2002 February 2002 March 2002 April 2002 May 2002 June 2002 July 2002 August 2002 September 2002 October 2002 November 2002 December 2002 January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010
Subscribe to Posts [Atom]