Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Is it possible A-Rod did everything right?

Let's take a brief look at A-Rod's current situation and take what he has said to be mostly truthful. Statistically, the evidence is there that, in fact, he was mostly truthful. 2001-2003 were three of his best power years, though by his own admission, the Ballpark at Arlington is a better hitters park.
But just think of his situation. He was 25 years old and had just signed the richest contract in major league history. Expectations were reasonably high, and he wanted to meet them. Look at the team that he joined in 2001. Rafael Palmeiro. Ken Caminiti. Ruben Sierra. Randy Velarde. Take an impressionable youngster wanting to succeed and throw him with veterans such as these, and they will undoubtedly steer him in the wrong direction.
Additionally, at the time of his use, there was no penalty for the use of his steroids. From the standpoint of an owner paying a guy 25 million dollars a year, wouldn't you want players to do everything in their power to win? Especially if it was something that wasn't punishable by the league? Now, obviously, with such stringent policies regarding steroid use, even as an owner desperate to win, you wouldn't want your guys using if only to avoid suspension. He claims he stopped using in 2003, and indeed, he hasn't tested positive since. In short, nobody has proved that A-Rod has done anything that was disallowed by baseball.
As for the testing, he didn't try to skirt it, didn't avoid it, he just did it. He took the test and failed. So did 103 other people. Thats 3-4 other guys per team. If the players on the 40 man rosters at the end of the season were the ones tested, thats almost 9% of players in major league baseball. Clearly, it was a leaguewide problem.
Even though A-Rod was the only one identified by SI, he didn't take the opportunity to assign blame elsewhere, even though he justifiably could have. He could have blamed the Rangers for forcing him into steroid use. He could have blamed the Players Union and Sports Illustrated for throwing him under the bus for failing to keep what was supposed to be an anonymous test and making it public. But he didn't. He claimed he was stupid and naive, and thus far, the evidence seems to indicate this was the truth.
So far, in my mind, the worst thing A-Rod has done has been lying to Katie Couric. But goodness, who hasn't done that? At the time, however, think of the consequennces had A-Rod told the truth in this instance. Sure, A-Rod would have saved some of his own credibility, but it would have been ruinous for baseball. A-Rod says he used steroids, then MLB would have been questioned as to why he never tested positive. Then MLB has to divulge the fact that he did indeed test positive. Why wasn't the test reported? Why wasn't A-Rod suspended? It saves a little face for baseball that the specifics of the test were released with the positive test.
I don't think A-Rod has really done himself a huge disservice. I think, if anything, he has toed the company line, be it for the Rangers or the league, and in the end, he has been the one thrown to the wolves. If anyone should come out of this looking bad, its those organizations and not Rodriguez.

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