Tuesday, February 10, 2009

More on A-Fraud

Yesterday, I noted that I did not expect to talk much further about the A-Rod topic, since the news was related to a drug test which he would never have agreed to take if there was any chance that the results could ever become public. But now, A-Rod has opened the whole mess up himself to the public by doing what I think was definitely the right thing on Monday afternoon, sitting down with ESPN's Peter Gammons and giving the following interview where among other things he admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs from 2001-2003:

It's worth watching the entire clip I think, if you have the time and the inclination. And now that A-Rod has decided to go public about this story, I feel a little better in talking some more about my opinion on this whole thing.

My reaction to this interview is mixed at best. I mean, for starters, A-Rod is clearly very broken up about this whole issue. At one point in the middle of this interview, you can see the pink splotches form under his eyes, and it actually looks like Rodriguez might cry. He pulls himself together and recovers, and by the end of the interview those prominent pink areas are gone from his face, but he almost loses it there in the middle. But, try as I might, I simply do not believe that A-Rod is broken up about the poor role model he is for children, or for cheating the game that he loves, or for the fact that he simply did something he knew was wrong. No. I think A-Rod is all upset because he got caught, and he knows that now all of the great records he will amass in his career will and should be asterisked just like those of fellow cheater Barry Bonds, and that his entire legacy is tarnished beyond repair, among current fans and in the record books over time.

There were a lot of things about this interview that rubbed me the wrong way. First and foremost, the first few minutes of A-Rod's answers sound like a speech that has been written by someone with experience deflecting scandals, and like A-Rod is just going through the motions repeating what he's been told to say. In fact, I'm sure that's exactly what it was, as his agent furiously worked with him over the weekend to plan a response, and this is what they came up with. Just tell 'em it was many years ago, and keep saying how sorry you are. No matter what happens, keep emphasizing how sorry you feel for the whole thing.

But is he really sorry?

"Back then, it was a different culture. It was very loose. I was young. I was stupid. I was naive. And I wanted to prove to everyone that I was worth being one of the greatest players of all time."

"Back then". I love it. Rodriguez makes it sound like this is the 1880s we're talking about here, or at least the 1980s. "I was young, I was stupid, I was naive." You were young, Alex? We're talking about five years ago here. Not 15, or 25, and not when A-Rod was a young boy of 7 years old or something. It's not exactly accurate or fair to talk about how young he was when he made this decision. It was this decade. Well into this decade in fact. The guy hasn't aged all that much since then. I just don't buy it.

"I did take a banned substance. And for that, I am very sorry and deeply regretful."

Wow! Very sorry and deeply regretful! That's like saying I'm a pompous ass and an arrogant prick. I mean, doesn't it just sound like these are his talking points, and he is trying to focus on how sorry he is over and over and over again, saying it as many different ways as he possibly can? I just really get the feeling that A-Rod thinks he can just come out and apologize for what he did, and that it will go away.

"Again, it was such a loosey-goosey era. I'm guilty for a lot of things. I'm guilty for being negligent, naive, not asking all the right questions. And to be quite honest, I don't know exactly what substance I was guilty of using."

To me this one really strains all credibility. I get the feeling that A-Rod and his people somehow think it makes him seem less guilty if he claims not to even know what substance he was taking. I don't buy that for even half a second. This guy had just signed a $250 million contract, he works out hard every day, he feels all this pressure to perform as he admits himself in the interview, and yet he ingests things that he doesn't even know what they are? You know what, I don't believe that for a second, and more than that, I simply don't think it makes him look any better even if it were true.

"I am sorry for my Texas years. I apologize to the fans of Texas."

Again, it's just not that simple. I really think A-Rod thinks he can just say over and over again how sorry he is, and that's all he needs to do.

Gammons then went on to ask about A-Rod's years as a Yankee (since 2004), and A-Rod assured Gammons that those years "have been clean."

"I've played the best baseball of my career since. I've won two MVPs since and I've never felt better in my career. Of that I'm very proud of."

Is that so? A-Rod has played the best baseball of his career since 2004, huh? Let's take a look at some of the numbers on that one, because living in New York and having to live with the puss that is A-Rod for these past few years, I can only say that most of us baseball fans in New York don't think he's been all that in his time here. So let's take a look at A-Rod's career numbers, by season, keeping in mind that he admits to having used performance enhancing drugs just during the three years from 2001-2003:

1994 Sea 17 54     0  2    .204
1995 Sea 48 142  5  19  .232
1996 Sea 146 601 36 123 .358
1997 Sea 141 587 23 84 .300
1998 Sea 161 686 42 124 .310
1999 Sea 129 502 42 111 .285
2000 Sea 148 554 41 132 .316
2001 Tex 162 632 52 135 .318
2002 Tex 162 624 57 142 .300
2003 Tex 161 607 47 118 .298
2004 NYY 155 601 36 106 .286
2005 NYY 162 605 48 130 .321
2006 NYY 154 572 35 121 .290
2007 NYY 158 583 54 156 .314
2008 NYY 138 510 35 103 .302
Total -- 2042 7860 553 1606 .306

OK so you can see it for yourself -- I don't see how there is any conclusion other than that the peak of A-Rod's statistical career was 2001-2002, smack in the middle of the period when A-Rod admits to using steroids. I mean, yes, 2007 was a great year with the Yankees for sure, but he hit more homers and had a higher average in 2002 with the Rangers, and 2001 also saw him hit more than 50 home runs for the only other time in his career.

It seems pretty obvious to me what went on with this guy and the steroids. He started taking them in 2001, and watched himself break his previous personal best for home runs by a full 10 dingers when he hit 52 in 2001. He loaded up again on the roids in 2002, and hit 57 home runs for the best season of his career. Then in 2003, the rumors about the steroid testing started, and at some point during the season I would bet that A-Rod either lightened up on the performance-enhancing drugs, or possibly stopped entirely in an attempt not to test positive during the coming diagnostic tests, and it hurt his results, with him hitting 47 homers -- his lowest output since 2000 -- and 118 RBIs, his lowest run production since 1999. So I can't really explain how or why 2007 was such a great statistical year for Rodriguez -- for all we know, maybe he got in to HGH for a while then, who knows -- but what I do know from those numbers is that "the best baseball of his career" was surely 2001-2002, again right smack in the middle of his anabolic steroid days. So nice try Alex, but I'm gonna have to call bullshit on that one. The best years of the man's career were surely right while he was taking the performance-enhancing drugs, end of story,right there in black and white.

Another element of the Gammons interview that I thought was interesting and telling was when A-Rod was asked what he thought the steroids did for his performance. All A-Rod could say was "I can't say, I don't know, it's so hard to tell." Yeah right. So let's see. 1998? 42 homers and 124 RBIs. 1999? 42 homers and 111 RBIs. 2000? 41 homers and 132 RBIs. Then cue the steroids. Now in 2001? 52 homers, 135 RBIs, both career highs at that point in time. 2002? 57 homers, 142 RBIs, again both career highs. But he can't say what the steroids did for his performance, huh? Nice try, Alex.

Taking this a step further, let's look at what happened in 2004, the year after Rodriguez stopped taking the steroids as the league implemented its performance-enhancing drugs policy. 36 home runs and 106 RBIs -- both his lowest since 1997. In fact, both of those numbers sound relatively average among strong hitters. Phillies fans out there will recognize them basically as Pat Burrell stats. Certainly not where A-Rod wants to be, and not even close to his output at the plate in his previous two steroid-fueled seasons. Over the following two seasons in 2005-2006, A-Rod would average 41 homers and 125 RBIs; better numbers than in 2004, but still not close to his 2001-2002 form. Not even close. I mean, over the three seasons when A-Rod admits to having used steroids, he averaged 50 home runs a year. Since 2003 when he got off the juice, he has hit under 40 home runs three out of five times.

And again, who knows what A-Rod might have been taking in 2007 when he busted out with that 54-homer, 156-RBI season for the Yankees in nabbing his third MVP. One of the most interesting answers given in his interview with Gammons is something you barely see written about anywhere. This was when Gammons asked A-Rod if his performance-enhancing drugs use took place only from 2001 through 2003. Rodriguez responded, "That's pretty accurate, yes." Now, no one made him use the word "pretty" there. That was solely by A-Rod's own choice, and I would say it belies the fact that he knows -- beyond a shadow of a doubt -- that he has used other performance-enhancers at other times in his career. I mean, if the guy felt all that pressure coming to Texas in 2000 and that's the reason he turned to roids back then, lord knows he felt immense pressure coming to New York and playing for the Yankees in the mid 2000s. And you have to admit, those numbers in 2007 kinda came out of nowhere, yknow? And he's playing there in the Bronx with Jason Giambi, a known, admitted steroid user, and Roger Clemens, who we all basically know used PEDs, and Andy Pettitte who has since admitted to using "the clear" and "the cream" to rehab from injuries. So to suggest that anyone is sure that A-Rod was clean in 2007, or in 2004 or 1999 for that matter, is absurd.

When Gammons asked A-Rod for the best evidence that he's been clean since 2004, Rodriguez kind of dodged the question in a way, and responded instead by pointing out that he has gained only 15 pounds from when he came in the league in 1994 until now, from 210 pounds then to 225 today. Now, for starters, I have no actual idea what he actually weighs today, nor do I know what he actually weighed then. And more than that, I believe him that he did not use any PEDs in 2008, a year that saw him play the fewest games, hit the fewest home runs and by far knock in the fewest runs in any season since he became an everyday player. So what's to say that he didn't lose 10 or 20 pounds of bulk since a couple of years ago? I just find that answer to really miss the point of how we know he's been clean since 2004. We don't know that, we don't know it at all, and there is no good evidence to demonstrate something that may very well not be true in the least.

To me, A-Rod does sound in the Peter Gammons interview like he is truly sorry. Sorry that this whole story came out, angry at the reporter who worked hard to get the scoop, sorry that his union effed him so hard to let these results become public. Sorry that he got busted and now has to sit on national tv with Peter Gammons and talk about the performance-enhancing drugs he used. Sorry about what he's going to face from the fans even in Yankee stadium and certainly on the road for the foreseeable future. Sorry at the thought of what the Philadelphia fans will do to him when he dares show his face in that park during inter-league play. But is A-Rod actually sorry about taking the performance-enhancing drugs to begin with, for what he did to the game, and what he did to his fans? I just don't see it.

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Blogger Astin said...

We'll assume you didn't use a ruler when lining up the stats.

2001: 52 HR 135 RBI .318 AVG
2002: 57 HR 142 RBI .300 AVG
2007: 54 HR 156 RBI .314 AVG

Yah, 2001-2002 was his best two years, but 2007 is arguable a better year than either of those. He had 3 less HR than 2002, and 2 more than 2001. He crushed both years' RBI numbers, and his BA was only .004 lower than 2001's. Doesn't quite mesh with what you typed up after.

And I fully believe he didn't know what he was taking. I'm sure he knew he was taking a performance enhancer, or even 'roids, but probably had no idea what it was called. The guy has an the IQ of a tadpole sometimes and listens to everything his agent tells him.

When he signed his $250 Mil contract with Texas, he went house-hunting. He was shown a house for around $1 Mil and had to ask his agent if he could afford it. No concept of reality.

2:55 AM  
Blogger ScottMcM said...

Dude can A-rod fold KK when he has 2 raises in front of him?

4:16 AM  
Blogger Julius_Goat said...

A-Fraud is not the proper name anymore, is it? I'd go with A-Roid, myself.

I would have lost all the respect I ever had for A-Roid if only I had had any in the first place.

5:06 AM  
Blogger BadBlood said...

To me, the most telling statistic is the one that's most over-looked. Games played. 2001-2003 he missed ONE game.

I've always felt that steroids allow people to stay on top of their game for LONGER. Six months is a long season and players break down over that stretch quite frequently.

Take a look at this page:


Prior to the 'roid era, NOBODY who'd hit 30 homers before the all-star break got to 50 for the year. Then look at the post-1994 stats and see how player's performances did NOT tail off the second half of the season like they used to.

To me, that's where the advantage lies in performance enhancers - staying on top of your game for longer.

8:24 PM  
Blogger BadBlood said...

That link got crushed in the last comment, here it is with some spaces thrown in so you can see it all.


8:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How come steroids only work for batters and not pitchers?

Anybody who didn't take steroids in that era was a moron. $250M is a ton of money. Fuck $50M is a ton of money.

I'm surprised at how naive everyone is on this non-story.

12:09 AM  

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