|A-Roid Should Embrace the Truth||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on February 08, 2009
(Update 2:16 pm EST: Rodriguez admits to using performance-enhancing substancesÂ in an exclusiveÂ interview with ESPN's Peter Gammons.)
If Alex Rodriguez had been innocent, I wish he would have climbed to top of the Empire State Building, shook his fists in defiance and bellowed his denial of steroid use.Â But maybe he remembers what happened to the most famous, larger-than-life figure who took to the top of that spire to fight to prove his dominance.Â Instead itâ€™s his rather mundane â€śtalk to the unionâ€ť quote, to Sports Illustrated reporter Selena Roberts, that speaks volumes.Â
Alex has chosen not to defend himself.Â Perhaps thatâ€™s wise, at least while he figures out what to do.Â Because unless someone truly in the know steps forward and denies that A-Rod tested positive for steroids, be it Bud Selig, head of the lab which did the testing or a government official who has the tests in hand, A-Rod will be tainted forever and known as a steroid user.ÂÂ
Thatâ€™s disappointing, although I think every fan knew deep in his or her heart that it was likely.Â Too many stars of this great era of the game have been cheaters, including those whose feats seemed superhuman.Â Thatâ€™s because they were.Â Barry Bonds is facing jail time for his involvement, Mark McGwire wonâ€™t talk about it, Clemens is on the edge of being indicted for lying to Congress and others have vanished into ignominious obscurity.Â
Except, of course, for those who apologized.Â Jason Giambi and Andy Pettitte both signed contracts for this year.Â Both came clean (or at least sort of), admitted their mistakes and testified as to their involvement.Â Maybe thatâ€™s the route for A-Rod too.
Only there is a difference.Â
A-Rod, Bonds, McGwire and Clemens all share two things (well three if you want to count the use of performance enhancing drugs), they were the gods of the modern era, so far above even other exceptional athletes that they shattered records left and right, and that they were driven by their egos to become legends of the game.Â Protecting that legacy has left Barry and Roger in danger of being sent to prison and has left Big Mac so alienated from baseballâ€™s most important arbiters, the BBWAA (The Baseball Writers Association of America), that he couldnâ€™t even manage to get 24% of the votes during Hall of Fame balloting.Â
That is the legacy of steroids and the steroid era.Â
No matter how much we believed in them, no matter what records they shattered, no matter how much money they earned in their career, we cannot look at these players the same way.Â
It doesnâ€™t matter if they cheated to keep up with the Joneses (no, I have no knowledge about Andruw, Chipper, Todd or Jacque - itâ€™s merely a turn of phrase), did it to help their team, did it to get more money in contract negotiations, to be the best of the best or even just because they wanted to win.Â The reason is irrelevant.Â These men are cheaters who got exposed.Â Â They arenâ€™t heroes. They didnâ€™t come forward and come clean.Â Even those who apologized didnâ€™t do so until they were exposed.Â
The exposing of Alex Rodriguez isnâ€™t a surprise. Itâ€™s a disappointment for those who held him up as a paragon and trumpeted that skill didnâ€™t require steroids.Â No matter how talented he is, heâ€™ll never be remembered as the best player ever.Â Not now.Â
Alex can salvage his career and retire with his piles of cash, but if he thinks heâ€™s going to be a hero of the game without evidence that clears him, heâ€™s dead wrong.Â Heâ€™ll be remembered as A-Roid, a cheat in an era of cheats.Â He can try to fight that image, but heâ€™d be wise to look at what has happened to those would be legends who tried to deflect, or deny their use of PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs).ÂÂ
No, if Alex is wise, or at least counseled well by his agent, heâ€™ll apologize, admit he was guilty during the time in question and swear that heâ€™s clean.Â He wonâ€™t insult our intelligence by lying.Â Heâ€™ll just change his focus from being a legend to playing out his career.
And heâ€™ll keep his nose clean the rest of the way.
What's your advice for A-Rod? Let it be heard below in the comments section.