Monday, February 09, 2009


Wow. Big news in the world of sports over the weekend, huge news here in New York, is of course word that Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez tested positive in 2003 for two anabolic steroids, as part of the Major League's "survey" drug test where they performed an anonymous, random screening across 1198 players in the league in an attempt to determine if the steroid problem were prominent and widespread enough to merit further intervention by the league. The names of the players whose samples were being tested were not kept with the results, and the only way the union would ever acquiesce to allow this survey test was with explicit agreement from the league that there would be no penalties or punishments as a result of this purely "diagnostic" test, and the names or individual results could never become public. The actual samples of the 1198 players tested were kept in the testing lab in Las Vegas of all places, with the samples tied to numerical codes without the player names included. The list of the names of all the tested players and their corresponding codes was in an office nearly 300 miles away in Long Beach, California. The two were never supposed to be united, and never would have until BALCO got raided in 2004 and then suddenly the federal government found itself seizing all sorts of information and documents, among which included the list of names and the corresponding results. And as the folks on ESPN have been putting it all weekend long, it was only a matter of time until this stuff came out, once the two lists had been put together.

This is a huge story for a couple of reasons. First, of course, is that A-Rod is the premier offensive player of the past whatever many years in the Major Leagues. Having this guy now tainted as badly as Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro along with most of the other offensive stars of the Steroid Era is probably the very worst thing that could have happened right now for the sport, or something close to it. But I think there's a larger reason why this story is hitting so many of us so hard at the moment, and that has to do with bullshit. See, I recently heard this theory that I really subscribe to that given what has transpired in this country over the past several months, the American people at this exact point in time have, in historical terms, seriously low tolerance for bullshit. Not from our presidents, not from our legislators, not from CEOs, not from investment advisors, brokers, bankers, lawyers or anyone. Right now, bullshit is trading at an all-time low compared to mostly all of our lives. And in a nutshell what we just learned is that Alex Rodriguez is a Class A bullshitter.

Seriously. It turns out, A-Rod really is A-Fraud. Not just because he did steroids, but because, like Bonds and Palmeiro and Sosa and so many others before him, he openly and brazenly lied about it. Here is A-Fraud with Katie Couric on December 7, 2007, talking about the steroid controversy:

In a scoop that has every network and media outlet scrambling for all the random video they can find of A-Rod chatting it up with Rafael Palmeiro there in the Rangers' dugout in 2003, it turns out that I guess A-Fraud actually did feel overmatched on the baseball field, enough in his MVP year of 2003 to take both testosterone and Primobolan, an illegal anabolic steroid that can be injected or taken orally to improve strength without significant side effects. So A-Rod is a liar, and as I said above, liars are never a great thing, but ten years ago when our president was the king of all liars the whole dishonesty thing was much more accepted. Nowadays, after a year of everyone in government, everyone on Wall Street and basically anybody in any position of authority lying through their effing teeth to us and costing millions of jobs and literally trillions of dollars in the process, A-Fraud is gonna get as little slack as you can imagine for this stuff.

Perhaps surprisingly, I am really of two minds about this whole thing. I mean, clearly this changes the way I view A-Rod, and the entire game of baseball, forever. I have made no bones here for years about my lack of respect for anything even remotely related to cheating, and to have to add a guy to the list who I've always held out in my own head at least as the best example there is of a clean superstar in this sport is devastating for my view of the game as a whole. But you know what? I don't think I'm going to have much more to say about this. Because A-Rod got effed with this whole thing. Hard. Those test results were required to be private and confidential forever. Originally, even the players who were tested were not given the results of their own screenings (though ESPN has since confirmed that A-Rod was in fact aware of his positive tests), and as I mentioned, the results and the player list were kept a long distance apart, very much by design. I understand that the government seized what they could related to the BALCO case and of course I defend their right to do that, but I have to wonder, why on earth were those test results and that list of names and testing ID numbers even retained in the first place so that they would be seizable by the government a year later? More than anything else, Alex Rodriguez's union threw his ass under the bus in a huge, huge way, by allowing those test results to exist for long enough that they could be discovered as part of an investigation, matched up with the right identities of the test subjects and then released to the public.

The bottom line is, this information was supposed to never be disclosed, to anyone, for any purpose whatsoever, and then through a series of events that were completely and totally unknown and pretty much unforeseeable to everyone involved at the time, the fact that A-Rod used steroids ended up being leaked anyways. I simply don't feel like using my blog to crush a guy based on information, though credibly true, that was never supposed to be made public. The players' union would never in two trillion (i.e., one bank bailout's worth) years have sanctioned these "diagnostic" tests if they thought there was even the slightest possible chance of the results coming public six years in the future. Not a chance. So I'm going to at least give that the slightest modicum of respect and not kill A-Fraud any more than I already have here, even though I could say a lot more about him under different circumstances.

Suffice it to say, it seems that over the past eight years or so, the world really has become an increasingly worse place to try to explain to my kids. And I find that to be very, very sad.

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Blogger Riggstad said...

THe kid test... hmmmmm

How aptly written.

Seriously, what the hell am I supposed to do now? I love the game. I am a season ticket holder.

How do I let this slide by? How does anyone continue to support the game while knowing that it is tainted in the way that it has been?

And you know what? For me, if they want to juice up and play the game so be it. I don't know that anyone else would still be able to play the game with roids, if they don't already have the talent. Roids helps those who have the talent to recover faster, put up bigger numbers, etc.

It's not a miracle pill to help some dog like me all of a sudden be talented enough to play in the show. Let them kill themselves for production and a short lived monster paycheck.

But the lying, the deception, and the overall arrogance behind that deception is just mind boggling to me.

How do we as fans continue to support, and condone this behaviour by still watching, buying, and supporting anything MLB.

Is the history and tradition of what baseball was enough to overcome the douchbagery of the recent past?

To date is seems that it's the only reason.

I'm saddened as well. I feel like a friend just died. I want my game back.

10:51 PM  
Blogger Loulou said...

Nice article indeed...
Wonder what the impact on the Yankees clubhouse will be now?

I follow the Yankees for 3 years now (foreigner living in NY) and I have to say I really do enjoy the games.

I have mixed feelings about the whole steroid hunt as it appears that a lot of players used it (104 over 1189 tests?!) but reglementations were very fuzzy at the time. Now that the rules are a little clearer A-Rod wasn't caught cheating since, except for that Katie Couric interview. The fact that what he took was anabolitic doesn't give a chance for an accident imho..

I guess baseball will become like know that records are tainted but you have the choice of either removing all records (you can't just target the tainted records) or live with it..

Good news is that apparently the Juice doesn't do all...otherwise we wouldn't be stuck to 26 rings :D

I intend to continue go cheer the Yankees while keeping in mind that as everywhere cheaters and liars exist...

11:24 PM  
Blogger VinNay said...

Baseball is now dead to me. A-Rod being clean was one of the only things left in the game that kept me watching. I soooo looked forward to the day when he overtook Bonds and the record could be clean again.

Now thats dead, and so is baseball to me.

12:12 AM  
Blogger Chad C said...

This "leak" kind of reminds me of this time that bodog people gave away peoples personal information to non-employees.... Both are extremely unproffessional IMO...

I could really care less about A-Rod testing positive though. I mean everyone SHOULD have been using roids when MLB was not testing! They knew if they didn't some kid in the farm system would and they would come take their jobs.... Whenever there is money to be made people will cheat for it, this includes any buisness really... I see lawyers charging people three grand tp seal peoples records at my local courthouse everyday. This is a simple process that only costs $50 to file and an hour to fill out.... Who's worse, thay guy or A-Rod?

12:16 AM  
Blogger Bayne_S said...

Pedro Martinez and Greg Maddux are probably the only clean dominant players from era.

12:24 AM  
Blogger Shrike said...

I'd add Frank Thomas and Ken Griffey to that list; check them out for a relatively normal aging curve. People forget, but Thomas from 1990-1997 was every bit the hitter that Albet Pujols is now.


1:04 AM  
Blogger Julius_Goat said...

My take? This is a more major problem for MLB because it is such a stat-driven sport, and this is a lost era for the sport, statistically speaking. Basically all stats for a couple decades have an asterisk by them. In my opinion, it's the same for the long period of segregation, when Negro Leagues were barnstorming and non-white players (Babe Ruth aside, perhaps) weren't allowed in. Another case where the stats are atificially skewed in a way that is unrecoverable.

Baseball will recover, but it needs to feel this pain. I think as fans we should probably use our spending dollars to make it feel this pain.

From now on I am sticking to track and field and swimming. Aaah, clean, drug-free track and field and swimming!

1:06 AM  
Blogger PokahDave said...

How about giving Jose Canseco some credit (I hate to do it but he was right).....he's the first one to put it out there about A-Rod and the other things in his books might just be credible....shocking!

1:31 AM  
Blogger DuggleBogey said...

Haven't you yourself been "remotely associated with cheating?"

1:53 AM  
Blogger OES said...

Possible link to poker. It's not deemed illegal (yet), but the issue with poker software. It's rather pervasive in the higher stakes games and not deemed illegal, however, if i knew the villain's cont bet record on the first hand of a sng, I feel like I would have an edge.

Compare this to the issue of roids when it wasn't being tested, possibly same thing?

2:14 AM  
Blogger Astin said...

So what?

An overpaid choker who doesn't have the slightest thread linking his life with a concept of reality gets busted for doing what everyone else was doing 6 years ago? Big whoop.

A-Rod's a moron, but so are most MLB players. Go watch them smack balls over the wall or pitch no-hitters and don't give a shit if they're clean or not. Treat it like wrestling.

3:05 AM  
Blogger Mundo said...

How is this any worse than harvesting parts from dead bodies and then having those parts sewn on to your body?

How is it worse than having someone shoot laser beams into your eyes so you can see better?

I'm not sure why most modern medical advances are OK, but if someone used Deca that means they've ruined the innocence of children.

12:09 AM  

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