Monday, February 9, 2009

The Texas sun makes you do crazy things.

Like take steroids, evidently. In a revealing interview with Peter Gammons today, Alex Rodriguez surprisingly came clean about his positive test for steroids in 2003. Sort of. Although he admitted to taking a banned substance, and although he apologized with tear-stained eyes to his "millions" of fans for his stupid behavior, there were plenty of curious comments which leave me unsure what to believe. First, the interview:

Let me give A-Rod some much deserved credit here. He admitted it. Pure and simple. Even when caught red-handed, almost all of the other baseball greats who used steroids refused to acknowledge or take responsibility for their actions. A-Rod, by coming right out and saying he's guilty of taking performance-enhancing drugs, now has an opportunity to achieve some form of redemption, something that Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire will never be able to achieve. And, as his tear-stained eyes seemed to indicate, A-Rod seems sincere and appropriately remorseful. I also LOVE the fact that he didn't read some script prepared for him by his agent. He was clearly speaking extemporaneously and it didn't feel as though he was a puppet who was having his strings pulled. This was A-Rod speaking, not Scott Boras. I respect that.

That said...

Since when in the fuck is Texas the most pressure-filled destination in baseball? I know the contract he received was beyond epic, but we're talking about a guy who ultimately wanted to play in New York, a city whose bright media spotlight shines, oh, just a wee bit brighter than in Arlington, Texas. Texas has never fielded a winner and its fans have never really demanded one. There is no easier place to be a stud hitter than Texas. Also, why is he complaining about the hot summers in Texas when he grew up playing baseball in the Dominican Republic and in Miami, Florida? Weird.

There were a few other things in his "confession" which bothered me as well, most notably his demonstrative effort to keep his legacy with the Yankees intact. It may be well and true that he has not been on the juice since coming to the Yankees, but A-Rod has plenty of motive to be less than forthcoming on this point. With headlines like "A-Hole" splashed across the NY tabloids this morning, A-Rod is understandably desperate to rally some support. He's a Yankee and he's going to stay one, so his only chance at surviving the vicious attacks he's going to be subjected to by his own fans is to give them some small reason to believe he hasn't tarnished Yankee pinstripes...only Ranger blue. That part seemed a bit over-emphasized, a bit too self-aware.

I also wasn't thrilled with his trying to mitigate the severity of his choices by insisting that the era in which it happened was more permissive. Was it? Yes. But that's not an argument for him to make. That's an argument for sports writers and fans to make. The only thing he should have been saying was, "I did it. I was wrong. I knew it was wrong. I have no excuses. I take full responsibility for my actions. I'm sorry." Honestly, a prepared statement that says only that much would have been far more compelling and, strategically speaking, far more successful in restoring some of his credibility.

A-Rod's confession does have one important result. It's the final nail in the coffin for Major League Baseball for the years 1992 to 2004. Nothing from that era counts now. Everyone is either guilty or under suspicion, right or wrong. The only players who have any sort of credibility were the fat ones like John Kruk, David Wells, Cecil Fielder and Steve Balboni. These are the new legends of baseball. Fernando Valenzuela never looked so good.

P.S. So, I guess Jose Canseco is the most honest scuzz bucket in the history of the world. Has he alleged anything that hasn't turned out to be true?


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