Casting The First Stone

The “confession” isn’t even 24 hours old and the public trial of Alex Rodriguez has already begun.  After a published story by Sports Illustrated came out this past Saturday claiming that Rodriguez had failed a Major League Baseball sanctioned survey drug test in 2003 A-Rod went before the ESPN cameras and Peter Gammons yesterday and said, “I did it.”

This admission directly contradicted what he said in an interview that aired on 60 minutes in 2007 where he told news anchor Katie Couric he never used any illegal substances to try and better his performance:

Couric: “For the record, have you ever used steroids, human growth hormone or any other performance-enhancing substance?”

Rodriguez: “No.”

Couric: “You never felt like, ‘This guy’s doing it, maybe I should look into this, too?  He’s getting better numbers, playing better ball.”

Rodriguez: “I’ve never felt overmatched on the baseball field. I’ve always been a very strong, dominant position. And I felt that if I did my work as I’ve done since I was, you know, a rookie back in Seattle, I didn’t have a problem competing at any level. So, no.”

OK, so we know now A-Rod wasn’t being truthful a year or so ago.

Now, put yourself in this guy’s shoes.  You are the poster boy for Major League Baseball.  In 2001 you signed the richest contract in baseball history to the delight of the player’s association who would now use that contract as a measuring stick.  And, even though you’re playing in Texas there is going to be the never ending comparison of your performance with your paycheck.

On top of all that, look who’s on the team with you; Ivan Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro, Randy Velarde, and Gabe Kapler.  Keep in mind that using steroids wasn’t illegal in 2001, 2002 or 2003.  So A-Rod does something stupid and gets caught up in the “everybody is doing it” syndrome.  Was it right? No. Was it stupid? Yes.

Can anyone actually look in the mirror and say they haven’t done anything in their life that secretly they’re ashamed of, but never got caught at?  So why should we be sanctimonious and condemn A-Rod for doing something that although wasn’t morally right, but wasn’t deemed cheating by the MLB until 2004?

At present, A-Rod says he is drug free and he hasn’t injected, ingested, rubbed on or supositoried any illegal substances into his body since the spring of 2003.  Other than the 2003 test, as far as we know, Rodriguez has never failed a test when given one.   We can speculate all we want about that, but until somebody can refute that statement we shouldn’t be inferring anything other than one failed test.

Let’s get back to that test.

The test was supposed to assure anonymity of those players taking the test, especially any of those who failed it.  Allegedly there were 104 names on the list of players who failed the drug screen, with Rodriguez being one of them.  He apparently had the banned substance Primobolan and testosterone in his system.  He told Gammons he didn’t even know what drug he got busted for.

“To be quite honest, I don’t know exactly what substance I was guilty of using.”

Also, there was no punishment for testing positive.  The test was given only to see if steroid usage in baseball was a serious problem, and if a certain percentage tested positive, then mandatory drug testing would be implemented.  The test revealed there was a problem, and mandatory testing was initiated, along with punishments for those who got caught.

The player’s association, according to the agreement, could’ve had had the results of the 2003 test destroyed per the association’s agreement with the MLB, but didn’t do so.  According to union president Donald Fehr federal investigators seized the results in 2004, which according to he and Commissioner Bud Selig seriously threatened the drug testing program, because the anonymity of the players couldn’t be guaranteed.

Well, since Saturday, I guess we can all figure out the end result of that concern.

In jumping around the news websites today I saw all the comments by readers calling for A-Rod’s head, polls asking if fans still want A-Rod on the team, or should he be in the Hall of Fame, and some self-righteous sportswriters calling A-Rod a bad citizen.  Before making a comment or voting one should ask themselves have I ever lied, cheated at something or hidden something in my past I knew was wrong.

I know I have, and I appreciate the fact that Alex Rodriguez came forward and took the blame on himself.  He only got caught in 2003, but he went so far as to say he used in 2001 and 2002 as well.  Nobody, but A-Rod brought that information up.  He didn’t blame baseball and he didn’t blame the player’s association.  He didn’t feel betrayed.  He looked into the camera and said he did it to himself.  He put his predicament squarely on his shoulders.  That took guts, more guts than some other big named athletes have done.

Ask yourself another question, who do you have more respect for, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro or Alex Rodriguez?

Should A-Rod go into the Hall of Fame when his playing days are done?  If I had a vote I would mark his name down on the first ballot.

He deserves to be there.

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