Thursday, February 19, 2009

A-Rod At It Again

So Alex Rodriquez is back at it again this week, giving a press conference to the New York media for the first time since the reveltation that he took steroids some years ago. He made his statements in front of several Yankee teammates, co-own Hal Steinbrenner and team GM Brian Cashman earlier this week, once again opening himself up to an entire wave of speculation about his lack of true candor with respect to his steroid use. All I can say is, here in the New York market, we are going now on two straight weeks of basically constant A-Rod talk on the sports talk radio shows.

Here is a transcript of A-Rod's prepared remarks, which he read from five pieces of paper for the first several minutes of his press conference:

"First, bear with me. I'm a little nervous, or a lot nervous, so bear with me a little bit.

"Let me start by thanking the Yankees, my teammates, our fans, for your support over the last couple weeks. The fact that you're sitting with me here today means the world to me. The last couple weeks have been difficult and emotional.

"On the one hand, it's extremely tough to admit mistakes. But on the other hand, it feels great to be moving forward. I know that I'm in a position where I have to earn my trust back, and over time I am confident that at the end of my career, people will see this for what it is: a stupid mistake and a lesson learned for a guy with a lot of baseball to play.

"Last Monday, I began the first step in the process of earning back trust when I sat down with Peter Gammons. I did so to accomplish two things: to tell the truth and to apologize to my teammates and baseball fans everywhere. Now the next step is to address the media about what I took and where it came from.

"On reflection, here's what I remember:

"As I discussed with Peter Gammons, in the year 2001, 2002 and 2003, I experimented with a banned substance that eventually triggered a positive test. In September 2004, I had a meeting with Gene Orza. During that meeting, he explained to me that I had been among the players from which people might conclude that I tested positive. That was as specific as Gene could be, because Gene stated to me that there were a number of players on that list who might not have actually tested positive.

"I think it is important to know that the tests that were taken in 2003 were requested and voted by players to determine the extent of the drug problem in Major League Baseball.

"Going back to 2001, my cousin started telling me about a substance that you can purchase over-the-counter in DR know as, in the streets, known as boli or bole. It was his understanding that it would give me a dramatic energy boost and otherwise harmless. My cousin and I, one more ignorant than the other, decided it was a good idea to start taking it. My cousin would administer it to me, but neither of us knew how to use it problem, providing (sic) just how ignorant we both were.

"It was at this point, we decided to take it twice a month for about six months during the 2001, 2002 and 2003 season. We consulted no one and had no good reason to base that decision. It was pretty evident that we didn't know what we're doing.

"We did everything we could to keep it between us, and my cousin did not provide any other players with it. I stopped taking it in 2003 and haven't take it since.

"I stopped taking the substance for several reasons. In 2003, I had a serious neck injury and it scared me half to death. I was scared for my career and truly my career after baseball -- my life after baseball. Secondly, after our voluntary test, all the players voted for a major league drug policy. At that time, it became evident to me how serious this all was, and I decided to stop then.

"Since that time, I've been tested regularly. I've taken urine tests consistent with Major League Baseball and blood tests for the World Baseball Classic. Before I walked here today, I took a test as part of my physical, and I'll take another blood test next week for the Classic.

"In the days ahead, I know that a lot of people are going to debate my past with various opinions. People are going to talk about my future as though it's already been determined, however, I realize that these opinions are out of my control. What is within my control is going out and doing the job that I am blessed to do. Spring training represents a new start for me and a chance to win a championship, two opportunities I'm very excited about.

"It isn't lost on me the good fortune I've received from playing baseball. When I entered the pros, I was a young kid -- the major leagues. I was 18 years old, right out of high school. I thought I knew everything, and I clearly didn't. Like everyone else, I've made a lot of mistakes in my life. The only way I know how to handle them is to learn from them and move forward. One thing I know is for sure that baseball is a lot bigger than Alex Rodriguez.

"And to my teammates -- (37-second pause)

"Thank you."

The first thing that struck me right away upon hearing this speech is how prepared it sounded, how orchestrated. I knew A-Rod was just going through the motions as he read it -- the proof is right there in the transcript, in the one line where A-Rod says "My cousin would administer it to me, but neither of us knew how to use it problem, providing just how ignorant we both were." The word isn't supposed to be "providing" -- it's supposed to be "proving", since that proves just how ignorant both Alex and his alleged cousin were being. My point is, A-Rod wasn't meaning, or even hearing, these words as they came out of his mouth on Tuesday. He was simply reading from a prepared statement, not even listening to the actual words as they came out of his mouth. Real sincere.

Furthermore, the statement itself, which is startlingly short on some details, miraculously happens to contain a surprisingly strong recollection of certain other details like who actually purchased the drug, where it was purchased, who administered the drug, etc. Why would A-Rod use a prepared statement to take such great pains to clarify all of these seemingly minor details in this story? Because, I say it's just that -- a story. This thing is made up, plain and simple. Here's what I think really happened.

When A-Rod finally got to sit down with his agent, superagent and also lawyer Scott Boras, A-Rod told Boras he just wants one thing and one thing alone from all this mess -- he wants to put it behind him. A-Rod has said as much time and time again in the week since Sports Illustrated first broke the news that he had tested positive for testosterone and Primabolin in 2003. Now, seeing what has happened to Miguel Tejada, and watching the Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds prosecutions progressing, with talks about indictments, serious offenses and even jail time being discussed, A-Rod also wants to make sure he is going to keep his freedom and remain able to do the things he wants to do in his life. He tells this all to Scott Boras as he pours out his feelings, and Boras begins to hatch an idea. He asks A-Rod if A-Rod would be willing to lie in his statement to the New York media. When A-Rod asks if he can be prosecuted if they catch him in the lie, Boras assures him that no, a press release is not legal proceedings, he is not under oath and therefore not subject to perjury or any other form of prosecution if he is later found not to have been truthful, other than in the court of public opinion. Alex says he can live with lying then, if it will help him to move beyond this and get himself out of any further steroids-related trouble, in particular with the long arm of the law.

So here's the story that Boras concocts, putting on his lawyer hat here for a minute.

First, the drug itself. In 1989, the Food and Drug Administration banned Primobolan from the United States, saying still today that there are no approved uses for the hormone replacement product. So naturally Alex's story is that the drug was purchased outside of this country, raising questions right off the bat of the applicability of U.S. laws to the purchase. No illegal drugs were purchased in the U.S., so no U.S. laws about purchasing of controlled substances have been violated.

So now let's look if there is a crime committed in the country where the Primobolan was purchased. A-Rod says the drug was purchased in the Dominican Republic, where "boli" or "bolee" is allegedly legal. So, no crime committed in buying this illegal drug in the U.S., and conveniently, no crime was committed in the jurisdiction where the drug was allegedly obtained, either, because A-Rod says it was legal there in 2001.

What about getting this substance, legal in DR but illegal in the U.S., into America to begin with? Isn't that a crime in the U.S.? Hells yeah it is. But A-Rod never mentioned in his prepared statement above how the drug found its way to America for A-Rod and his unnamed cousin to take twice a month for six months each year from 2001-2003. It must have been here, because if A-Rod took it all during the baseball season, it's not like he was flying down to DR every other week for a shot. But that's where the cousin comes in.

It's a tricky question as to whether or not A-Rod could be compelled to out the cousin. So far, mum is the word on the actual identity of this mysterious cousin, who just popped up out of nowhere in time for Tuesday's press conference. The cousin allegedly has not committed any crime, and A-Rod never explicitly stated that it was the cousin who smuggled the Primobolan into the U.S. But in any event, the clear impression left by A-Rod story to the New York media is that he did not purchase the drug, it was purchased by an unnamed someone in A-Rod's family -- not a father or a brother or someone that would be easily trackable like that, but a "cousin" -- and that it was not A-Rod who brought it illegally into the United States.

Also worth noting is that in some jurisdictions and under certain federal codes, mere possession of needles with the intent to inject an illegal substance in the U.S. can be classified as a crime. But don't worry, fans and media of New York, because A-Rod's prepared statement -- again I have to remind you, prepared by a team of lawyers no doubt -- was very clear that he himself did not do the injecting. Nope. Twice a month every month for six months, three consecutive years, all injecting into his body, but A-Rod never once touched the needles. How convenient.

Lastly, I have to note that I heard on the radio this week that the statute of limitations in federal cases like this is five years. This means that the government may only bring a case against someone for violation of the substance-related laws of the United States for up to five years after the infraction occurred. Conveniently, A-Rod only admits to having used illegal substances for three years starting in 2001. Convenient in that this means that he last took steroids in 2003, and wouldya lookie there, now it's 2009 so these actions are not prosecutable by the government anyways, even if they found additional corroborative evidence at some point in the future. Very clever.

So here's what A-Roid came to New York with earlier in the week. Despite none of this coming up in his previous interview at all, and none of it turning up in the Sports Illustrated story last week either, we were suddenly told that the real truth is that the illegal substance was not actually illegal where purchased, that A-Rod had nothing to do with bringing it into this country, where it is illegal, and he never had possession of the needles or other paraphenalia either. And, it's been more than five years anyways since all this happened, so A-Rod can't be touched in any event. Uh huh. Like I said, how picture-perfect convenient, for everybody on the A-Roid team.

In addition to going out there and reading a statement, prepared by his lawyers, that just happens to involve Alex skirting around every possible loophole in every possible law in connection with his steroid use, but A-Rod also managed to once again dodge any comments about the effects of the drug on his performance.

“I’m not sure what the benefit was,” Rodriqeuz said. “I will say this: when you take any substance, especially in baseball, it’s half mental and half physical. If you take this glass of water and say you’re going to be a better baseball player, if you believe it, you probably will be. I certainly felt more energy, but it’s hard to say.”

Right. It's hard to say. 47, 52 and 57 home runs in three years he admits he was on steroids. Under 40 home runs in out of 5 years since then, when he claims to have stopped taking the juice. Yeah, I'm sure the effect is just mental. Riiiiiiiight.

Another of my favorite weasel moments for A-Rod during this press conference was when he was asked why he stopped using the substance in 2003. Rodriquez responded that his awakening moment was after suffering a neck injury in spring training of 2003, which made A-Rod open his eyes and say, What am I doing with myself? "Thank God that I realized after my neck injury that I was being silly and irresponsible," Rodriguez said, "and I decided to stop." So, to be clear for the fans and the eventual hall of fame voters out there some day, A-Rod did not do steroids right up until he learned there would be testing for the substances in 2004, and then stop out of fear of getting caught, after already getting caught once in the diagnostic tests in 2003. No, his decision to quit the juice in 2003 had nothing to do with him getting caught then and in the future, but rather he figured out himself how silly he was being. God that must be great.

A-Rod also reiterated several times in his speech how he and his cousin were being "amateurs", how the cousin obtained the drug and how A-Rod did not even know what he was putting into his body. "We knew they weren't tic-tacs," A-Rod said, but he did not know they were steroids. But then consider this -- A-Rod has long been known as someone who considers his body to be like his temple, as well as someone who consults with a team of advisers before his every move. And he had just signed a 10-year, $252 millino contract with the Texas Rangers. To think that he took this substance for three years and never once knew what it was, strains all possible credibility in my view. Plus, Primabolin is apparently known as an ultra-expensive steroid designed to increase lean muscle mass, and according to steroid experts, steroid users often use Primobolan in conjunction with testosterone because the combination builds strength but doesn't add extreme bulk, a process known in body building circles as "stacking". This suggests that whoever was helping A-Rod administer the drugs clearly knew what they were doing.

The last bit of fakery I will mention about the A-Rod press conference the other day was the ridiculous 37-second pause at the end prior to thanking his teammates. I don't know about you -- go check out the video if you haven't already -- but I sure as hell think that entire thing seems quite contrived. A-Rod has long been known as someone who choreographs his words and actions, and I don't see how you can't question the legitimacy of that emotional display toward his teammates. Just watch what he does during it. He looks around, he makes some faces, he looks down to his left, he drinks some water, he faces his teammates a couple of times, and then -- finally -- he thanks them.

This entire thing came off to me and it seems to most of the people in the room with A-Rod as one big phony bit of bullshit. I say A-Rod is lying through his teeth, and I challenge anybody who says they think the have reason to believe anything that comes out of A-Rod's mouth at this point. I bet he got the drugs himself, I bet he got them in the U.S., I bet A-Rod injected himself, and I bet he worked with someone loosely associated with baseball who knew all the details of how best to use these drugs to combine to give A-Roid the illegal and unfair cheating edge he sought. I can only hope that someone will uncover the truth and A-Roid will have to go through this all over again, only much, much worse.

Labels: , , , ,


Blogger l.e.s.ter said...

Awesome analysis. I almost have a little respect for A-Rod hearing how crafty all this really is (which it certainly didn't seem on the surface). Although I guess the credit really goes to Boras.

1:37 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home