A-Rod’s Worst Enemy? It’s A-Rod, Of Course!

Major League Baseball investigators finally got around to their highly anticipated meeting with Yankees’ third baseman Alex Rodriguez regarding his recent admission that he was had used illegal performance-enhancing drugs from 2001-03 while playing for the Texas Rangers.

Rodriguez, playing in his final spring training game before leaving the Yankees to play for Team Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, left Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Reds after collecting 2 hits. Afterwards, he sat down for about 2 hours to answer questions relating to his use of illegal substances before coming to the Yankees.

After the meeting A-Rod wouldn’t talk about what went on behind closed doors, but Rodriguez was described as “cooperative” with investigators. However, does cooperative equal truthful?

The substance of the interview is not known, but what is know is that A-Rod appeared to be less than 100% genuine when he faced nearly 200 members of the news media on February 17 at George M. Steinbrenner Field to answer questions after reading a prepared statement. Reporters were allowed to ask one question with no follow up, and though Rodriguez admitted he screwed up he couldn’t or wouldn’t answer questions as to whether he thought he was a cheat, on why he took the illegal substances or why he continued to use them when he said he didn’t know if they did him any good or whether he was using them the right way. Often he appeared to be at a loss for words, searching for the right response to a question that caught him off guard.

Rodriguez’s answers left everyone with a lot more questions. It’s a good thing Rodriguez didn’t blame anyone else for his circumstances, because there is no one who gets in A-Rod’s way more than he does. Need proof? Here are a few examples.

Exhibit A:

During the press conference Rodriguez said he received his supplies through his cousin, whom he refused to identify, and that his cousin injected him with a substance with the street name of “Boli.” A-Rod told the audience this substance was a legal, over-the-counter drug that could be purchased in the Dominican Republic. “Boli” is possibly the term used for Primobolan, which is a banned steroid. After the press conference reporters contacted authorities in the Dominican and were advised that “Boli” was not a legal over-the-counter drug, nor was it back during A-Rod’s admitted time frame of use.

Reporters later identified the unknown cousin as Yuri Sucart. Sucart has been a staple in Rodriguez’s life for many years. Often seen with A-Rod at his home in Miami, Florida, Sucart’s identity was established by his wife Carman who told reporters that her husband was the cousin A-Rod referred to in the press conference. She refused to speak beyond that.

The Wednesday, following the press conference, with the media smelling stories due to Rodriguez’s less than candid responses, A-Rod left the game against the Toronto Blue Jays and hopped into an SUV being driven by none other than Sucart. Rodriguez was later contacted by Yankee officials and was told his cousin wasn’t welcome around any of the Yankees’ facilities.

The Yankees made their responses to the situation brief.

Brian Cashman said to reporters, “It’s been handled.”

When reporters reached out to manager Joe Girardi for a response his statement was just about as short.

“That situation has been addressed, and I’ll just leave it at that,” he echoed.

This position begs the question, just how dumb is Alex Rodriguez? Why would an athlete who is under the most intense microscope of scrutiny allow the guy he said supplied, injected and used illegal substances with to appear anywhere near the New York Yankees?

This is where anyone in their right mind would say to themselves I trying to repair my reputation so I need to use discretion and caution and not add more attention to myself, my teammates and my organization. Apparently, that didn’t resonate with A-Rod. The cousin shows up, more questions are asked and the Yankee organization has to bear further embarrassment, because their most talented and expensive asset can’t see the circumstances surrounding him for what they are and make smart choices.

In other words, he either says or does the wrong thing.

Exhibit B:

In Joe Torre’s book, “The Yankee Years,” Torre referred to Rodriguez’s relationship with his teammate and Yankee captain Derek Jeter as, “single, white female.” That is to say, Rodriguez emulated Jeter. That emulation obviously hasn’t gravitated to A-Rod’s character flaws and big mouth.

Jeter has often been criticized in the press, because he doesn’t reveal much about his private life relating to A-Rod or otherwise, and that he always, always says and does the right thing. Jeter’s response to these critiques is strictly out of his playbook.

“I understand my job is public, but your personal life is your personal life. Once you open that door, it doesn’t stop,” he said recently. “Away from the field, people want to keep tabs on how many times we go out to eat, things like that. That has no bearing on what we’re trying to do.”

Jeter knows his status in New York. He knows whom he represents, and he acts accordingly. In a city where tabloid news runs rampant Jeter does a great job in avoiding the trappings that usually fall upon big time stars. Jeter keeps his public persona as a New York Yankee far away from his private persona as Derek Jeter, citizen. You won’t find Jeter the subject of the smokinggun.com, the New York Post’s “Page 6,” or the National Enquirer. You won’t find pictures of Jeter following a buxom, hot blond into a hotel room after spending the night visiting strip clubs. And you won’t see photos of him hanging out with superstar singers who were married to successful movie directors.

Derek Jeter doesn’t do things that will embarrass himself, the City of New York or the New York Yankees.

Alex Rodriguez seems to make a habit of it.

Exhibit C:

Whether he tries to or not anything said by A-Rod has the potential of being taken in the wrong context. Remember, the supposed ironclad friendship between Rodriguez and Jeter rusted and fell apart after an interview Rodriguez and his agent Scott Boras did for the April, 2001 issue of Esquire Magazine. For those of you who have been living in a cave, in the story Rodriguez told Esquire Jeter wasn’t a real leader.

“Jeter’s been blessed with great talent around him,” Alex was quoted as saying. “He’s never had to lead. He can just go and play and have fun. And he hits second-that’s totally different than third and fourth in a lineup. You go into New York; you wanna stop Bernie and O’Neill. You never say don’t let Derek beat you. He’s never your concern.”

Since that quote emerged in print Rodriguez has spent a lot of time backpedaling and justifying his words. However, the damage was apparently done. Jeter doesn’t use the term “friend” or “friendship” in describing his relationship with Rodriguez since A-Rod came to the Yankees in 2004.

So, the only time the Esquire story is brought up since it was big news nearly 8 years ago is when A-Rod says something that could possibly be construed as knocking Jeter. Like yesterday, when asked what he thought about Dominican teammate Jose Reyes’ running ability Rodriguez gushed about him.

“I wish he was leading off on our team or playing on our team; that’s fun to watch, A-Rod said.”

Here’s the rub with that statement. I don’t think Rodriguez was knocking anyone. I think he was genuinely complimenting a very gifted athlete in Reyes. However, perception is everything and choosing your words wisely is important.

First off, away from the World Baseball Classic, Reyes plays for the Yankees’ cross town rivals, the New York Mets. Next to complimenting somebody on the Boston Red Sox, complimenting someone on the Mets is cannon fodder too. Two, he plays shortstop, which is the position currently occupied by Jeter, and third, the leadoff batter is Johnny Damon.

So, in one fell swoop A-Rod gives the appearance that he’d rather have Reyes in the lineup and playing shortstop over his aforementioned teammates. As I said, I don’t think that is what he was trying to convey. But, when you stick your foot in your mouth as much as A-Rod does any time you say anything those words are going to be picked apart.

A better way to have responded to the question is, “I think Jose is a really talented ballplayer and any team that has him leading off and playing short is fortunate. I’m enjoying playing beside him for the Dominican Republic. That said, I’m also lucky to be playing on the Yankees next to another talented shortstop by the name of Derek Jeter who will be a first ballot hall of famer. We also got a pretty good leadoff guy in Johnny Damon.” That way you can compliment the one player without giving the appearance you are slighting others.

Alex Rodriguez said he came to the New York Yankees to win a championship. I’m sure that’s true, but there might be underlying reasons why he hasn’t won any before coming to the Bronx. Rodriguez, since arriving in New York has been a lightning rod of controversy and tabloid material. Look at what’s happened over the past month or so. C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira were the biggest free agent signings over the winter. All accomplished by the Yankees. But, here we are two weeks into spring training and in every New York newspaper, Yankees blog and fan website all you read about is Alex Rodriguez.

There is no doubt about it, A-Rod is his own worst enemy, and in the end he may prove to be the Yankees’ worst enemy as well.

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