Fooling Nobody

There’s a new show on FOX called, “Lie to Me.”  It’s about a group of body language experts who use their skills to identify people who are lying or not telling the whole truth.  These guys would have had a field day with Alex Rodriguez this past Tuesday when he sat down with approximately 200 members of the media to readmit his use of performance-enhancing drugs.

A-Rod promised to tell the truth and give everyone the who, what, when, where and why he took illegal substances.  Bolstered by most of his teammates, who were sitting and or standing nearby, Rodriguez read from a prepared statement where he said he used an over-the-counter drug found in the Dominican Republic with the street name of “Boli,”  and that was supplied by his cousin; a cousin whom A-Rod refused to identify.

Rodriguez explained that his cousin told him this substance would give him an “energy boost, but was otherwise harmless.”  He told us he and his cousin decided to use the drug twice a month for six months over the course of a season.  This occurred during the 2001, 2002 and 2003 seasons.   A-Rod said he and his cousin tried hard to keep their use “between them.”  He also said, We consulted no one. It was pretty evident that we didn’t know what we were doing.”

In the telling of his side of the issue, Rodriguez pointed to his youth, being naïve, not asking the right questions and being stupid for his reasons for doing what he did.  He said after taking a drug test in 2003 where he apparently tested positive for evidences of Primobolan and testosterone, A-Rod quit taking “Boli,” because of a serious neck injury and the fact the player’s association voted for a mandatory drug policy.  He stated he saw how serious the circumstances were.

Rodriguez told everyone he was clean while playing in Seattle and has been clean while playing in New York.  He made sure we all knew how many times he’s been drug tested in the time he’s been in the Bronx.  He concluded his statement by thanking his teammates for supporting him.  That took approximately 37 seconds to do, because A-Rod paused a long time for effect before getting the rest of his thanks out.

This was when the all the fun started.

The members of the press corps were permitted to ask one question with no follow up questions allowed.  Here were some of the highlights of the Q & A, followed by my observations.

On the subject of whether or not Rodriguez thought he shamed the game of baseball as stated by Commissioner Bud Selig, A-Rod sidestepped the question and answered, “”I certainly made a mistake, and I feel poorly for that.”

A-Rod was asked if he would’ve come forward on his own if his name hadn’t been revealed in the Sports Illustrated article that started this whole mess.  He said, “I-I haven’t thought about it much. The fact is that it came out and I’m here to share my story and, uh, put it out there and hopefully I can put this behind me and my teammates to have to carry the burden of answering all the questions for me.”

(How can A-Rod say something like that?  Of course, he’s thought about it.  The obvious answer should have been something like – “Yes, I’ve thought about it, and I knew then I made a huge mistake back then, and that I was wrong.  No, I wouldn’t have come forward if my name hadn’t surfaced.  Why would I want to put myself through what I’m going through now?  I was promised anonymity, so I assumed my name would be kept secret, along with all the other players who tested positive.  It wasn’t so here I am.  Now that it’s out there I want to be as honest as I can so I can get this behind me and get back to playing baseball.” – Let’s face it, nobody in their right mind would come forward, but answering honestly instead of skirting around the question would have gone a long way.)

On why he said he used steroids in Texas to protect the large contract he signed while playing for the Rangers, but discontinuined once he came to New York Rodriguez said, “I think I was curious. And, like I said in Peter’s (Gammons) interview I was young, and, uh, I was 24-35 years old, I mean, I keep going back to…I entered the game when I was 18 and if I had a son I would definitely recommend going to college and have an opportunity to grow up, and I didn’t…..”

(So from 1995 until 2001 while he was playing for the Mariners A-Rod managed to be mature enough not to stick illegal substances into his body, but because he signed a big contract, one which he obviously commanded because of his numbers in Seattle, he became young and stupid then?  How is that possible?  You were smart enough to play naturally for six years, smart enough to sign a contract for one-quarter of a billion dollars, but stupid and immature enough to start using steroids?  That just doesn’t wash A-Rod.)

A-Rod was asked by Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record why he didn’t disclose taking these illegal drugs with his cousin during his interview with ESPN’s Peter Gammons; an interview he arranged himself.  Rodriguez responded, “Good question Bob. The thing is, when I was, uh, when a reporter came into the gym maybe 38 hours, or 48 hours I thought it was important to get the truth out there, early, and be forthright, and as far as all the details I didn’t want to speak from a position of non-factual. I thought I was putting myself out there already with saying the truth and over the last 9 days I sat down with my cousin and we’ve had several conversations and here are the facts 9 days later.  I wasn’t prepared, Bob, to say that when I sat down with Peter, because it was a long, long time ago and I really didn’t remember.”

(Huh?  The story comes out on a Saturday, and Rodriguez speaks to Gammons on the following Monday. Even if as little as 5 years would be considered a long, long time ago this is a cousin who has evidently lived with Rodriguez for many years as one of A-Rod’s entourage.  So why would he need more than a couple of days to sit down with a cousin he can readily contact to refresh his memory about the events as they occurred back then?)

A-Rod was asked if he now thought what he did was cheating.  “That’s not for me to determine. I’m here to say that I’m sorry. I’m here to say that in some ways I wish I went to college and got an opportunity to grow up at my own pace. You know, I guess when you’re young and stupid, you’re young and stupid and I’m very guilty for both of those.”

(A-Rod did the deed, but can’t determine if he was cheating or not?  Hey, Alex, do you think Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Raphael Palmeiro, or Barry Bonds were cheating?  You don’t need to go to college to answer this question.  How about, “Yes, I was cheating.  I did it, because I wanted to be the best player I could be.  I know now it was wrong.”  This was one of A-Rod’s lamest responses.)

Joel Sherman of the New York Post asked the best question of the day.  He asked Rodriguez that if he didn’t know what the drug he was putting into his body did, and if he wasn’t sure he was administering it right why would he continue, being a professional athlete, to put something into himself over a 3 year period?

A-Rod replied, “Yeah, instead of saying a general, I try to bring it in a box for you. Now that may be once a month it may be three times a month. I want to clarify that. O.K., you’re asking me why I would do that.  Again it goes back to being young and being curious and when it started it was probably in the middle of ’01 and when it ended it was the ’03 and I realized, thank God, that I realized after my neck injury that I was being silly and irresponsible. And I decided to stop and I was a young guy.”

(Nowhere in Rodriguez’s response do I get the answer to Sherman’s question.  A-Rod said he was curious, and he was young.  It took a neck injury to make him realize he was being silly and irresponsible?  Once again, he completely goes around what we want to know.  A proper answer to the question could have been, “I kept hoping that the benefit would come, but after 3 years I never felt like it was helping my performance to go beyond what I could do naturally.  I started, because I was curious, and I stopped because I needed to.  It didn’t help me and with the neck injury and the mandatory drug policy being implemented I knew I could be doing more harm to myself than good.”)

Many other examples of Rodriguez’s, less than candid responses could be given, but you get the picture.  A-Rod admitted he took steroids, because he got caught.  He’s sorry, because he got caught.   He wants to educate young men and women in sports to avoid taking steroids or HGH, because he got caught.  If the Sports Illustrated story had never come out we would never know that Alex Rodriguez was a cheater.

A-Rod came off looking poorly after the press conference concluded.  His performance only created more questions and did little to stave off the media coverage Rodriguez can expect to get for the foreseeable future.  He needs to acknowledge that he was a drug cheater and that he was wrong.  He needs to become completely honest in his answers about his cheating.  The more he evades in giving a direct response to a direct question the more he leaves the door open for more questions and conjecture.

The Yankees are understandably less than thrilled with A-Rod’s presentation.  In a year where the Yankees need to focus on winning a championship they will instead spend a lot of time focusing on A-Rod’s needs and comforts.  In order for the Yankees to thrive Alex Rodriguez has to put up big numbers.  However, those numbers, heretofore thought to be produced by a natural, God-gifted athlete will now be forever tainted by steroids.

If it was A-Rod’s plan to convince all of us watching him Tuesday afternoon that he was being completely honest he missed badly.  I would recommend to A-Rod that he not go into the field of acting when his playing days are finished, because he’s really, really bad at it.

Let’s play some baseball shall we?

Note:  ESPN reported this morning on its Web site the cousin who Alex Rodriguez said injected him with steroids from 2001-03 has been identified as Yuri Sucart, 46, of Miami, Florida.  Sucart was identified by his wife Carman as the cousin Rodriguez mentioned during his 33 minute press conference at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Tuesday.

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