Feb
08

Disappointment

By

When the A-Rod news broke this morning, I wasn’t surprised or outraged. Nothing that comes out of this ongoing steroid mess can shock me anymore. Rather, I was deeply and truly disappointed.

Alex Rodriguez was supposed to be one of the Good Guys. Since he was drafted in the early 1990s, he had labels attached to him, labels tagging him as one of baseball’s all-time greats. He was a natural talent who knew how to play the game hard. When, at the age of 20, in his first full season, he took Seattle and the AL by storm, we knew we were witnessing history.

Over the years, we know the A-Rod saga. He signed on with Scott Boras who pushed him to become the best in everything. A-Rod couldn’t just be the best player in baseball. He also had to have the best contract ever and eventually had to play on the best team ever on baseball’s biggest stage.

Now, I don’t mean to intimate that Boras’ pushing or A-Rod’s own internal demons led him to steroids, but it’s hard to ignore that theme in all that we know about A-Rod. As the last five seasons have unfolded, we have seen A-Rod’s highs and lows. We’ve seen Slappy McBluelips turn into a two-time MVP winner turn into a non-clutch post-season choker turn into an adulterer and now a steroid user.

Underneath it all, the kid I once was and the baseball fan I still am are both disappointed. I’m disappointed that one of those Good Guys, one of those players who went on TV and told Katie Couric that he never used steroids would turn out to be a liar and a fraud, disappointed that one player destined for enshrinement on his natural talents alone would throw it all away because everyone else was doing so why shouldn’t he.

Maybe I’m being too willfully blind to the history of baseball. Ty Cobb was a racist who never would have played against non-white players. Babe Ruth was hardly a model citizen. Mickey Mantle was a drunk, and countless players have philandered their ways across the baseball landscape.

Maybe the problem isn’t with the players, but maybe it’s with the fans who try to idolize guys who are just professional athletes. Maybe our heroes never existed; we just dreamed them into existence and refused to acknowledge their flaws until it was far too late.

In the end, moral outrage is sure to rule the day. The same reporters and league officials who turned a blind eye to steroids for twenty or thirty years will breach on about the ills of the drugs and baseball’s corruption, past and present. The games will go on, and I will live and die with the Yankees. But as anything scandal breaks, as another big name falls, the part of me that believes in baseball as America, that, as Annie Savoy does in Bull Durham, believes in the Church of Baseball, will feel a little less sure about the game and a lot more disappointment. Who are our heroes after all?

Categories : STEROIDS!

96 Comments»

  1. KPR says:

    Agreed wholeheartedly. So many things about this make me sad.

    1. A-Rod is supposed to be the good guy
    2. How can 2 jerks get away with giving away info supposed to be confidential
    3. Why don’t we find out EVERYONE? then all baseball heroes will be destroyed.. then what? Do we punish all of them? Who do we cheer for?

    Nice post Mr. K!

  2. RCK says:

    Yes, exactly. At this stage of the game it would be ridiculous to be shocked at anyone taking drugs, but the disappointment is profound. I feel ridiculous for being this invested in the actions of a human being who I don’t even know, but I am. I loved watching him, and I’ll probably continue to eventually, but it will never be the same.

  3. Evan says:

    I have had this internal monologue a few times. While the disappointment is deep at the moment, I just realize that it will wash over soon. Perhaps this points toward some deeper moral problem within me but after the initial sting, I have a sense of “Whatever. When does the season start?”

  4. Miles Roche says:

    I’m too disgusted to comment right now. All I’ll say is that, as it stands right now, i’m totally not looking forward to Yankees Baseball circa ’09 and the whole circus that’ll be attached to it. . .

  5. Tom Zig says:

    I bet if A-rod played for Boston, no one would reveal this information.

  6. JM says:

    I thought he wold end up being the hero of the steroids era. The man to break Bonds’s tarnished HR record. But he killed it. I never really liked him and now i probably never will.

  7. hoosier daddy says:

    you know.. i still dont know what to think about this.. im not a huge a rod fan but i dont hate him either.. there is really no proof.. its all just speculation.. i would have to see the “official” documents of the 104 players (that wasnt photoshopped) to really have a solid opinion.. i would love to see players like manny, ortiz, lowell, schilling (god i hope so) on the list.. and who knows who leaked it.. it could be all bullshit.. no documentation.. wtf??? its all hear say..

  8. Jonny says:

    Brett Gardner.

  9. Ed says:

    I think Ben hit it dead on.

    The thing A-Rod had going for him was he was going to take away the all time home run record from the steroid cheats. There was never any suspicion about it, which made it easy to root for him, even if you did curse him out when October came.

    Now, even if we find out later that this isn’t true, the cloud of suspicion will always be there.

    It’s kinda sad though. He cares so much about what people think about him, yet he doesn’t make it that easy to like him. He been gaining a lot more acceptance, but now this hits…

  10. Macphisto says:

    The thing that makes this even more disappointing is the fact that A-Rod was given his 10 year contract to break the HR record as a clean player in pinstripes. That is what brought the Yanks back to the table after they said they were out. And A-Rod knew this was out there. He knew when he spoke to Couric days after the MR was released. He took on the mantle of that player when he knew he wasn’t. Here is Hank’s quote after the deal was done: Now, we get to live with this for the next nine years. It will follow A-Rod and the team every day and as he approaches the record it will grow again causing the kind of distraction that Bonds chase caused. It is beyond disappointing. It gives me a sense of dread.

  11. hoosier daddy says:

    there is still no proof.. remember tex was going to the redsox.. its all speculation..

    • Tom Zig says:

      If the results were under seal by a court order, how did this information get leaked? These “sources” are going to be in a world of trouble. I highly recommend watching the interview of Buster Olney on ESPN.com. Just don’t read the comments on the articles.

      Did baseball just become “The Crucible” ?

      • hoosier daddy says:

        i wanna see paper.. legal documents.. before i decide.. this could be all bullshit.. but who knows.. im not trying to defend a rod i just want solid proof rather than a yankee hating bitches comment on it..

  12. inman says:

    let’s go yankees ! im at the point now where i dont care who did roids- i wouldnt care if the entire 04 red sox team did them or if jeter did them.
    when the games start i’ll be cheering for the yanks and even a-rod. if and when they start talking about steroids i’ll hit the mute button and enjoy the game.

    • bogan says:

      Thats the first reasonable post Ive seen on any message board since all this came out. Im over who did it and who didnt. Lets just play ball and move on.

  13. Thomas A. Anderson says:

    This post pretty much sums up my feeling.

    Am I disappointed in Arod? Yeah.

    Am I shocked that he did it? Not really.

    The thing that all of us as fans have to come to grips with is the fact that no matter how many games we go to or see on tv, no matter how many stories we read and no matter how much we pay attention to sports, we just do not know these guys.

    Furthermore, we have to drop the idea that we know for sure who uses performance enhancing drugs and who doesn’t. We aren’t around these athletes 24 hours a day. We all have no idea who uses and who doesn’t

    The fact is that every single player for the last 25+ years in Major League Baseball, and all of professional sports, really, has to be under suspicion. Not Manny, not Ortiz, not Pujols, not Griffey, not Miggy or DLee or Posada or Bernie, Jeter, Mo or Tino, NO ONE is above reproach or suspicion.

    We may hope against hope that they haven’t used, but the stark reality is, many of our favorite teams the last 25 years have been littered with guys that have used performance enhancing drugs. The fact is, many of our favorite players in the last 25 years have at least tried or even abused performance enhancing drugs. If you refuse to believe that, then ask yourself this: How many of us would have EVER thought that Andy Pettitte of all people would have used? No one. But he did. If you still can’t come to grips with reality after that, then you are just a total mark.

    While this news disappoints me as a baseball fan, I will move on from this and I will enjoy the games as I would any season. Being only 23, I have grown up outside of the Age of Innocence when it comes to sports. So I don’t have the same emotional, wholesome attatchment to the glory days. The steroid era, free agency and all of the other things about pro sports that fans bemoan, I have seen as status quo. It may be sad for fans who are a bit older and remember simpler, fonder times, but at least it gives me the perspective to take this for what it is.

    Athletes that are on Arod’s level are just like any insanely sucessful person. The very personality traits that make them great are what cause them to do things like this. Did Arod need PEDs to be a great player? Of course not. But he, much like many successful people will do anything they have to in order to be the absolute best they can be and make crazy scratch in the process. If that includes cutting corners and taking shortcuts to get there, so be it.

    I hope we find out who the other 103 names are that failed in 2003. It doesn’t make Arod any less guilty, but I find it almost impossible for the list to consist of him and a ton of mop up relievers and utility infielders. Perhaps then people will realize the fantasy world fans have been living in the last 25 years when it comes to this stuff.

    Oh yeah, all you fans of opposing teams had better tread lightly in your criticism. Because YOUR favorite player may be next.. And if you scoff at that and say: “My guy would never do something like that” would you be willing to bet your life on that? Cause you may get burned soon enough.

    • Tony says:

      I’m with you.

      now about: “The steroid era, free agency and all of the other things about pro sports that fans bemoan, I have seen as status quo. It may be sad for fans who are a bit older and remember simpler, fonder times,”

      I’m 34 & I can say that their where no simplier fonder times – people just gloss over things over time. In the early 80′s the sport was rocked with a cocaine scandal. thats why the cardinals traded away keith hernandez to the mets.

      The best saying I can think of is “This to Shall Pass” and it will.

      We will all still follow the sport & enjoy it for what it is – a distraction from real life. To hope your team does well & to watch greatness. I enjoyed baseball in the 90′s & 00′s – I just hope that the crackdown on roids will not dilute the product to the point that it becomes boring. Baseball was good in the 80′s but it rocked in the 90′s & 00′s. It may have been artificial – but watching the older players dominate was great – in a way I wish I never knew. But I do so I enjoy the games for what they are – entertainment.

  14. mustang says:

    Ben,
    I must compliment you on one of the best pieces you written.
    I truly have nothing else to say because you have captured my feelings so well in this thread.

    Thank you

  15. Old Ranger says:

    It seems as though A-Rod can’t do anything without getting his head handed to him.

    This year we have a writer, who just happens upon some information about A-Rod and his use of Rods. Guess what, she just happens to have a book coming out this spring, about…you guessed it…A-Rod!

    Weather he used or not, is a moot point but, it will sure as hell sell books. If the information proves to be wrong, it won’t matter to her…she sold the books, predictability making a lot of money in so doing.

    If this thing turns out to be true, I will (and am) be very disappointed in him. I have never been of the A-Rod cheer club group of fans. His god given talent is indisputable, is it tarnished…yes! Is it the deciding factor in my cheering for him…No!

    One thing keeps nagging at me; All the guys that have been outed as taking this stuff have had injuries, mainly with their lower body. If A-Rod took the junk…why is he exempt from those injuries? For all we know, he may have tried them and quit…for any number of reasons. After all; as Mike wrote, “Most everyone was doing it”, so, trying them was the most natural thing for him to do.

    But, as we have been watching him for low these many years, last year was his 1st time on the DL, with the Yankees. As evidence of injuries; Mac, Bonds, Conseco, Jason and Robertson, plus…where is this big jump in ability>

    For me, it’s over with…these guys aren’t gods, most of them are kids making a very good living playing a kids game. Do be treating them as if they are better then anyone of you (us) they aren’t, they just have the talent each one of is very envious of…not jealous.

    Sorry, got carried away.

  16. Rich says:

    What’s past is past and can’t be undone. At this point, I just hope that he decides to be forthcoming. He should be humble and admit his mistake, then apologize and vow that he will never do it again, while offering to be tested as often as anyone wants, and embark on establishing a foundation to teach kids about the danger of PEDs. No one could reasonably ask him to do more than that.

  17. TheLastClown says:

    Penultimate paragraph of this article FTW.

  18. O'Neil21 says:

    Whats really sad is who is clean.Pettitte a nice family guy who even McNamee said he didn’t want to give him steroids,Jason Grimsley who had the body of a retired math teacher and A-Rod our savior from Barry Bonds records and the hardest working player is sad.

    Albert Pujos,Miguel Cabera,Santana,Ortiz and Manny how can we any be trusted…..really/

  19. Babe's Ghost says:

    Who are our heroes after all?

    In the immortal words of Bob Sheperd, “DEREK JETER

    If he were revealed to be a cheat then I would truly be disappointed.

    But if you take a step back and look at Arod’s personality and the way he’s acted, are you really surprised? I stopped hating him once he became a Yankee, but I never loved him. Even when he put that dagger in Pimplebottom… I did root for him, not just because he was a Yankee, but also because I felt a little sorry for him. (As much as anyone feels sorry for the obscenely rich.) Personally, I’d like Arod to come clean, apologize, have his teammates rally around him, have a great year and then win his ring. But I’m not holding my breath.

    I love DJ, he’s a great athlete and I admire the way he plays the game, but at the end of the day he’s a ballplayer. Jumping into the stands to catch a ball doesn’t belong in the same sentence with rushing the cockpit, dedicating your life to public health like Paul Farmer or just waking up everyday and going to work at a job you don’t much like to make sure your kids can go to college. DJ doesn’t even crack the top 10 in my list of heroes.

  20. Ben–this is a great post. Thank you.

  21. Steve S says:

    Im sorry but everyone is entitled to their opinion but this grand awe or disappointment seems a little sanctimonious. Yes taking steroids is a character flaw and its a form of cheating but is it any worse than womanizing, drinking and driving, other forms of substance abuse? I dont think so. I know Bob Costas has been replayed stating (eloquently) the impact of this revelation but in all honesty athletes should never be anyone’s heroes. But Bob Costas is the first one to celebrate Mickey Mantle, who was an amazing ball player but his character flaws were endless, it doesnt change the fact that he was great ball player and brought a great deal of joy into peoples lives. Baseball is a game and a form of entertainment, maybe there was a time that we had high expectations for these guys and what they were off the field but in the end that time seems to coincide with the same era where the level of scrutiny was no where near what it is now. No blogs, no twenty four hour sports channels, etc….Id also wager that if the same things and the same money were available to Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Joe D and all of those hallowed, they would have probably taken the same risks and made the same mistakes. Its not a justification but its a reality. Enough already, all of us here were never good enough to play professional baseball and we cant act so high and mighty unless were in the same position. And I know I cant say that if I were as good as Arod or as mediocre as Randy Velarde, that I wouldn’t be tempted to take steroids, especially if it added all of those zeros at the end of my pay check.

  22. Dave says:

    Our heroes should be our parents and our teachers, our siblings and our relatives. A hero could be any one you strive to be and only some day dream to be close to as amazing as that person. Why do baseball players have to be our heros? I think my parents and some of the special people I have came across in my life are certainly far more heroic than the guys who get payed 10 to 30 million dollars each year to play a game for nine months.

    I love baseball, I eat, sleep, breath and dream baseball dont get me wrong but I dont feel the need to have a baseball hero – maybe that is the difference between a 24 year old and a 44 year old. This generation knew from the start the type of negative, shady, lowlife characters that baseball players could be from the media. i ALWAYS felt like a lot of the players did not truly appreciate the superior talents they were dealt nor did some of them seem satisfied by being millionaires for playing a kids game their whole life. How can that be anyones role model or hero for that matter?

    On the other hand, I am not disappointed in arod. I was more disappointed to read many of the yankee fan comments I have heard today that made me take a step back and consider exactly who in these blogs were fans and who would sell the yanks down the river on a whim. i HEARD people saying that they are done with arod, done with the yankees and done with baseball. All for this??? oVER 50 PERCENT of baseball players probably took roids in the 90s so why we would anyone renounce baseball after hearing a name like arod come up – one of the greatest homerun hitters and pure hitters of this time period. I mean, i did not think it was so but i am not floored by it.

    Frankly, I would rather sit back and look forward to the amazing season NY is going to put together this year with the best team on paper since 1998. It is a very exciting time to be a yankee fan once again and I will not let a little thing like arod doing roids in 2003 stop me from loving this team and loving this game. Heck, I even still love that arod is on this team – so he took some roids in 2003 when half the world was doing it? I mean is that such a gigantic deal that we have to talk about it for the next six months. I think moving into the new stadium and having CC and tex start in pinstripes is far more worthy of my time then, this steroid nonsense. Frankly, I dont even really care except that this is going to get annoying if it goes on for months, I dont want arod to be dragged into this with his game suffering in the process and I still want arod to make the hall of fame someday.

    but outside of those things, I have to say that I really couldnt care less. In my eyes, arod is still putting up some of the best numbers in the history of the sport in 2007 with a season for the ages and that just proves how good he is and that roids didnt really do a whole lot to improve his game. I would be far more concerned if we found out that arod has been taking roids up until the end of last season but I tend to be very skeptical of that. Arod doesnt have to be my hero or be a flawless individual, it is good enough that he is the best hitter in the world and in yankee pinstripes.

  23. Dave says:

    Steve,

    i would argue that taking roids is better than being a womanizer or getting a DUI. You take roids – you really only hurt yourself. The other two – you are hurting other people around you and often, people that you love are being put in harms way. Taking drugs is the least of these crimes – it is the only crime where you are really just hurting yourself and no, you are NOT supporting terrorism. Thats ridiculous.

    • K.B.D. says:

      You can end up hurting other people when you’re using steroids to get ahead in a sport and you’re passing someone else by. Their was a steroid using pitcher who got interviewed awhile back and he said the hardest thing was knowing that he was using, moving his was up the ladder and hurting his non-users friends chances of advancement. He said he felt like he was taking their paychecks. It’s not victimless, is what I’m getting at.

      • Dave says:

        yea maybe so but what if half the players in the sport is using? And its hard to say arod didnt deserve the money he is making as one of the best players in the sport even six years after testing positive for it. Plus, it is less blatantly obvious than how you can hurt people from drunk driving or marital abuse or whatever else baseball players have done. You dont really run the risk of killing anybody in this situation except yourself. I would rather root for a roid user than a ton of other things that baseball players have been known to be.

    • Rich says:

      You are correct in terms of an overarching value system that transcends MLB, but in terms of preserving the competitive integrity of the game, taking PEDs is worse.

      That’s why Bud Selig’s tenure as commissioner, characterized by a willful and complicit blindness to rampant PED usage, has been a miserable failure no matter how much the game’s revenues have increased.

      With all the talk about clawback provisions with regard to the exorbitant compensation of Wall Street CEOs who mismanaged their firms, maybe it’s time that some of Selig’s $17 million per year salary is clawed back and dedicated to educating America’s youth about the dangers of PED usage.

  24. BillyBall says:

    Read this from Was Watching. Funny and entertaining.

    http://waswatching.com/2009/02.....instripes/

    P.S. Pablo Zevallos,
    I refute every counter argument you made especially the fact that you have no idea the price steroids have on a human body. You fail to understand the truth regarding the facts that a human beings DNA is for ever altered once he/she uses steroids. I will give you the numerous sources on this subject if you so desire. I will also remind you to take a trip to Cooperstown and view the evolution of the baseball. The baseball in FACT has been altered by tightening and loosening the stitches which in fact impacts the distance said ball travels. Go to the museum and learn a thing before you counter argue a point you clearly have no knowlege refuting.

  25. A Hind says:

    can someone explain to me why we even need heros? mom, teacher, a-rod, w/e.

  26. jim p says:

    It’s the stats, man. You got what happens on the field, and you got the stats, and every baseball fan knows them and uses them to appreciate the game. You got the accomplishments that ring through generations of fans.

    That’s all undermined. A big part of what we use to enjoy the game is falsified. Ruth, gloried for decades (Maris not so much), then Aaron with a falsely-shortened reign.

    We look at this one or that one and how they stack up against a line of players that goes back over a hundred years.

    Barry Bonds has more homers than Mays or Mantle. But nobody ever said that joy or booze helped you cheat your way into the all-time list of greats. Aaron, Mays, Mantle, hell Harmon Killebrew would be up near 1,000 homers if they had the same cheats modern players have used.

    That A-Rod was going to beat out Bonds meant we had someone legitimate who beat out Aaron. Now, the all-time stats tell you nothing.

    • Dave says:

      If we find out he only did it a few times over the course of a single season, I think it is still safe to say he is one of the greats. He had no major, extended slump or decline so in order for someone to legitimately think the roids had a big effect on his numbers, you would either have to say he got off of them and the decline just never took place because he didnt do it that long, he was lucky enough to not have a decline because he was still young or he just continued to do them throughout his career and no one ever knew. I mean if he did roids for one season, can you really say he is not the best in the game? He has had some incredible seasons after 2003 and the best one of his career in 2007. How can you take that talent away from him if he wasnt on anything?

  27. Dave says:

    A Hind – not really heroes but role-models. People that you can set your sights on as the type of person you want to be in the future. iT IS much easier to have one when you are younger. After a certain point, it is hard to strive to be someone else because you are already yourself. But its nice for kids to have role-models and even nicer when the role models are their parents and teachers rather than some athlete or movie star. Role models should be more about character than status or money driven IMO. Thats why baseball players dont make ideal candidates. Not the best character and strongest moral standing for a kid.

  28. Phil in LA says:

    It was very disappointing and surprising news. At the same time, why ARod and not the other 103 from the same lab? The entire episode lacks context and it’s unfair to ARod. Plus there is a sort uncomfortable chain of evidence. Afterall isn’t this story being brought to us by the same freakazoid who rushed to judge the Duke Lacrosse team? This revelation seems to be the work of people willing to violate rights and excercise some sort of vendetta against ARod. So it’s disappointing because we thought ARod was old school great, but it’s sickening because he was singled out from a group of 104 because he is old school great and some people just can’t stand that.

  29. Tom Zig says:

    Over or under a 7 win improvement from 89 wins last year to 96 this year.

  30. Holly C. says:

    Overall just a very sad day for baseball. Whatever happened to actually sticking towards the fundamentals of baseball, and playing with natural talent. I am shocked at how reguarly it seems a good athlete has to result to a poor alternative such as steroids. My opinion is if a player of this magnitude (if indeed this is proven he has done steroids) all their records should be taken away. Then again i might just be too harsh. Idk about you but… i think a lot of the old baseball greats will be frowing down on baseball today. I can’t stress to anyone enough, that I think steroids is lame. Thank goodness my relative rogers hornsby isnt alive today to witness a classic game he had loved would be looked at now as a game of enhancements.

  31. Drew says:

    This goes two wyas, The Arod haters and lovers. Im, niether, i just love some good ball. okay he cheated in 03, why is he better now? i guess he’s just magic, c’mon guys, lets love this guyl he may have an attitiude but who can blamer him.
    (BTW) ur not him so don’t say wat u’d do. GL bro! get 50 for me!!

  32. Infamous says:

    I guess I’m in a different boat cause i never held or do hold sports figures up on pedestals. I enjoy the entertainment that they give me while watching but i dont glorify them. They are regular people who are just trying to make a living and support their family and obviously it looks like most baseball players thought they had to take steroids to get that big contracts and i cant really blame them. I am definitely dissapointed but whatever, its just a friggin game and who caresif someone took steroids to play a game of baseball. It is more crazy that the government is spending a huge amount of money to investigate these people when the money can be MUCH better spent elsewhere.

  33. Chip says:

    I’ll say right now that I’m one of the biggest A-Rod fans you’ll ever meet (and a bigger Jeter fan). Maybe it’s being a 22 year old in this 24 hour a day media circus that we live in but I honestly don’t care if A-Rod took steroids. I feel the same way about Bonds. We did this to these guys after all. I mean who didn’t love homeruns in 2001? Honestly, after watching Bonds capture the hearts of America (pre-roids) would you not have started taking anything if it meant you could hit 70 hrs instead of 52?

    Take a look at the AL and NL MVP 1-25 in 2001 on baseballreference.com. On that list, are there many guys who you can honestly say you don’t think were juicing? I just want to know in what universe a light-hitting second baseman suddenly transforms into a 37 HR slugger overnight and nobody wonders what’s going on.

    I actually feel really sorry for A-Rod. Yeah, everyone here will deride me saying that because he has all this money and it must be great but none of us can imagine the hell of being the star of the New York Yankees. A-Rod is expected to be morally perfect and all-knowing just because he’s great at a game. This isn’t the president of the nation we’re talking about but just a guy who is naturally gifted in hitting a very fast moving ball. It isn’t his fault that we worship people for this and none of us would turn down that much money if we were in the same spot. Just look at what it did to Mantle, the guy almost drank himself to death. Maris started loosing hair in 1961 because of the stress. And now, you’re being vilified for doing what was pretty much status quo in the league at that time.

    This whole steroids thing is just a load of shit if you ask me. If Jeter or Mo were named in that report would all you holier than thou people say the same thing you’re saying about A-Rod? I doubt it. It’s in the past and let’s just leave it there. This is a game and I think we have to remember that context. I’m one of the biggest baseball obsessers I know but in the end I still have to live my life and worrying about what some guy I never met might have injected himself with isn’t very high on the priority list.

  34. Ari says:

    You know what, I just have to come out and say it. I DONT CARE! What kind of hypocrites are we. We create this mania around sports, nurture this culture that encourages athletes to do better at any cost, we idololize these guys for all their accomplishments, and then all of a sudden we change the rules and decide that we’re tired of idolozing them so let’s have some fun tearing them down. Sorry, that’s crap. Did all these guys cheat? Sure, but you know what, so what? We are just as much to blame for this as they are. We’re the ones who fuel this sports culture at the end of the day. And what does it even mean to say these guys cheated. Was Bonds cheating when he was batting against Clemens? They were both juicing, so who had the advantage? I mean, that’s what it comes down to. If everyone was juicing, which seems more and more the case, at least with the players we really care about, then what does it mean to say that any one player had an unnatural advantage over the others? We should make sure there are controls to make sure steroids aren’t used anymore, and move on. This is turning into the britney spears saga of baseball. How many idols can we tear down today? We need to move past this crap. Put Bonds and Clemens into the hall where they belong, no asterisks, and be done with all of this. At this point it’s all about the media having a story to milk, and the rest of us having the chance to get a kick out of watching someone else’s life be ruined from the comfort of our couch.

  35. mike says:

    It’s not about heroes or even the Yankees, for me, it’s about one of the top 5 best baseball players ever (at least) getting erased from the record books. I’m not a cavs fan, but I would be upset to hear that Lebron James was using HGH. They are (again, at least) once a generation type athletes and I would like to be amazed by them without thinking about how much of their talent is “natural” and how much is inflated by steroids.

    When arod came to the yankees, moved to third and brought the whole circus that came along with him I think a lot of people lost sight of how amazingly talented he was. A shortstop turned third basemen was going to be the homerun king. It was incredible and extremely unlikely to not just repeated, but to even come close to be repeated.

  36. NC Saint says:

    “Who are our heroes after all?”

    A hero ain’t nothin but a sandwich.

  37. Simon B. says:

    I’m more pissed off at the Yankees for giving him a 10 year contract and no protection to void it if such things came to pass.

    It was a shitty contract the day he signed, but now it might prove to be the worst ever.

  38. NC Saint says:

    Two safe bets:

    1.) a significant percentage of NFL linemen will inject steroids today
    2.) no one will give a shit

    people care about steroids in baseball because they care about stats and records and are stupid enough to think that drug abuse represents a unique challenge to the meaningfulness of those stats, rather than being just one more example of the fact that all stats are contextual.

  39. Kr Phil says:

    It was really disappointing. I agree with the well written article. All I’m hoping now is that IF he ever did took steroids back then, I hope that was the only time. Not that it matters that much. Also, I just hope that Arod just flat out smashes this season, be clutch and productive and everything, and the Yanks win number 27.

  40. Artist formerly known as 'The' Steve says:

    Not to nitpick, but you cited the often repeated “TY Cobb was a racist”. If you read the Cobb bio by Charles C Alexander, its not quite that simple. He was no worse than the average man in his day, and was actually somewhat progressive for the time. Yes, he screamed “nigga nigga” at Babe Ruth (who he despised) during games but bench jockeying is a lousy way to define someone. In his private life he was known to be very philanthropic, he hired blacks at a time when many would not, and according to his WIKI page he was quoted by the sporting News as supporting the integration of Baseball.

    “Racism

    While few would doubt Cobb’s reputation for violent and outrageous behavior, there is no evidence that his alleged racism was true. Indeed, he would likely be considered a racist by today’s standards, but he may not have been especially racist for his day. For instance, when baseball became integrated, he fully stood behind the decision, telling the Sporting News “The Negro has a right to compete in sports and who is to say they have not? They have been competing notably in football, track, and baseball and I think they are to be complimented for their gentle conduct both on the field, and, as far as I know, off the field.””

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ty_Cobb

    BTW-The Cobb book is a must read.

  41. Jeff Z says:

    If he hits .320/.420/.600/40/100+/100+ then I’m happy.

  42. JeffG says:

    My biggest disappointment is how the media treats this issue. They demonize players that were trying to perform the best they could for their team. In reality, if there was little to enforce steroids were not to be part of the game then I find it hard to write off players for making the choice to enhance their performance, and ultimately help their team win.

    Now that there is a strict testing policy we should feel slighted if players take that route and jeopardize their team. However, back before testing there was no reason to think that payers shouldn’t have made whatever choices they felt right for them.

    My hope is that people see that steroids were part of baseball’s culture, and truth be told, the players that took steroids were still pretty special. The best way for us to get there perhaps is A-Rod himself. I hope that he’s tested and tests clean several times this year and still puts up all time numbers. In fact hopefully people will believe he was clean in 2007.

    Let’s just hope for a great future for the guy. That will help although not completely clear his legacy.

  43. a realist says:

    This whole thing is bullshit. “Good guys”? C’mon, fucking grow up already. This isn’t pro wrestling (but with all the steroids it might as well be). No one ever said A-Rod would would lift the cloud of the steroid era. People just hoped for it.

    Who cares though? Can’t we just chalk the whole thing up to an incredibly weak League with a piss poor commissioner who allowed it all to happen, a bunch of “reporters” who can’t write a story that’s in front of their fat faces until it lands in their laps, a group of ego-driven, money-hungry douchebag athletes who’ll do anything for an edge, a world media conglomerate that just pushes salacious scandal down our collective throats, and an apathetic public that wouldn’t give two shits if the same story snared any pro football player walking the Earth? I mean what’s really at stake here? Just a bunch of numbers. That’s it.

    Who gives a fuck?

    I do wonder though, if any of these 103 other names are are the same as the “false” names that came out as the Mitchell report was on its way out. If so, expect Pujols and Varitek to have to answer some tough questions soon.

    Stupid peephole society. The real story isn’t that A-Rod’s name is on that list. The story here is that the media, in its quest to erect monuments to individuals just to tear them down, has ignored 103 other names that aren’t as universally marketable.

    And please, leave your fucking morality at the door. This will not create a generation of drug abusers and it will not destroy the fabric of the game. Baseball is built on cheating. One of the most famous home runs, The Shot Heard ‘Round the World” is often credited to a stolen sign. Eras were built on cheating. Dead ball era (spitballs legal) leads to the Steroid Era (MLB doesn’t want you using, but won’t punish you or test you, and hey, let’s eat some speed before the game). Everyone needs to calm down a little and look at this situation logically, not emotionally.

  44. Artist formerly known as 'The' Steve says:

    Maybe there’s a silver lining to all this. Now that Alex’s pursuit of every record in Baseball has been rendered meaningless, maybe he will understand its no longer all about him. Maybe he will finally ‘get it’. The stuff that Jeter’s been talking about for years. Maybe this will free him up to really focus on winning and the team, instead of his personal goals and glory. Maybe now in clutch situations in the playoffs, he will finally learn to slow the game down, look to hit the ball where its pitched instead of trying to force things. Maybe now, he will give the fans who never liked him what they really want, a guy who’s own ego doesn’t get in the way of getting a big hit, as opposed to trying to force a HR.

    Its no longer about him, its about winning.

    • Tony says:

      lets hope

      in reality – he does seem to perform at his best when he is getting all of the attention – even if the attention is negative.

      His MVP 07 season he had the whole blond bomb shell to deal with – the Ha moment – and his self liberation from “the one”

      Who knows this could spur him to a great season…

      • Artist formerly known as 'The' Steve says:

        Maybe, or he could wind up getting destroyed by his life’s ambition going down the tubes. It would take a complete turnaround with who he is as a person, and stuff like that doesn’t happen overnight.

  45. Artist formerly known as 'The' Steve says:

    “There has always been an artificial element to Alex Rodriguez, always a feeling about him that seemed a little too contrived. He frosts the tips of his hair blond. He goes to tanning salons. He claims to be a family man, then allegedly cheats on (and ultimately divorces) his wife. He says he desperately wants to play for the Americans in the World Baseball Classic. Then the Dominicans. Then the Americans. He says he wants to be with the Yankees forever, then opts out of his contract, then comes back and signs with them again anyway. Amid all of that and more, there was always baseball. Whatever you wanted to say about Rodriguez, about how it always felt like he was trying to be something he wasn’t, there remained what he did on the field. The numbers couldn’t be denied. The sheer excellence was real. It had to be.

    Except it wasn’t. At least not all of it. Sports Illustrated reported yesterday that Rodriguez tested positive for using two anabolic steroids during the 2003 season, citing four independent sources with knowledge of the results. Rodriguez was playing for the Texas Rangers that season and won the American League MVP, his first of three such awards. Now his numbers that year look as authentic as his bleached bangs.
    .
    .

    Now we learn that Rodriguez and Clemens have a lot more in common: They are frauds, legendary players who may have cost themselves the Hall of Fame with a chemical. There are fair questions to be asked about the methods that led to their respective downfalls – government leaks, informants and anonymous sources – but that does not exonerate what they did.
    .
    .

    He still loses. Loses his credibility, loses his integrity, loses the trust of the fans who made him. Turns out the one part of Alex Rodriguez that always seemed real is as phony as the rest of him.”

    http://www.lohud.com/article/2008902080368

    Wow, devastating article by PA today.

    • Tony says:

      I agree – but I also think that he may also be torn. Am I american & turn my back on my heritage or do I play for the dominican side & let down the country that provided me with so much opportunity. In truth he is torn between 2 worlds.

      As for the hall of fame – I usually dont pay to much attention because untill recently I never saw any of the inducted players play. However I will say this – as more people get outed – I find it hard for writers to not vote someone in because he thinks he took steroids – it is becoming obvious that anywhere from 30 – 70% of players where taking some form of supplement/enhancement. so if the supplement is to give you an edge – perhaps all it was doing was leveling the playing field. I still firmly believe that bonds – in his mind felt that he was forced to take steroids to ensure that he was the best at the game & that someone with inferior talent wouldn’t surpass him It might not have been moral – but it was the reality at the time.

      I say that we put this time period in perspective – it was a chemical age & we can adjust stats accordingly in our minds – its not perfect but it is the reality

      • Artist formerly known as 'The' Steve says:

        No, the HOF is VERY much in doubt for him at this point.

        If we have learned anything from the McGwire candidacy, his support has actually gone DOWN year by year, as more HOF voters feel like they have the support of their fellow writers in voting their conscience. They’re coming to understand that the numbers are worthy, yet so tarnished they are rendered worthless.

        They don’t want to honor someone who they think sets a poor example to future athletes and kids, that you can take steroids, get caught and still wind up in Cooperstown.

        • Tony says:

          true but a-rod has more yrs to rebuild his value. mcguire was already retired

          • Artist formerly known as 'The' Steve says:

            McGwire never failed a drug test, Alex has. He’s done.

            • usty says:

              All of these reporters are sanctimonious asshats. They turned the blind eye to reporting about it while in the clubhouse, then the networks would cut in every time one of these guys was up. They let them bring the game back from the dead, saving the reporters jobs too annd now look to tear them all down. I don’t give a shit anymore and I will still rock my 13 jersey and cheer for him.

              • Artist formerly known as 'The' Steve says:

                “They turned the blind eye to reporting about it while in the clubhouse, then the networks would cut in every time one of these guys was up.”

                That’s not fair. Before the drug testing in 2004, all the reporters had were suspicions and innuendo. Now they have hard evidence.

                You can blame the media all you want, Alex has nobody to blame for this but himself.

    • Ben K. says:

      Just FYI: Sam Borden wrote that one. Pete’s on vacation these days.

  46. Tony says:

    In terms of timing – you couldn’t ask for the news to come out a better time. It’s not to early in the winter – where it would dominate the headlines for months – it is not in the middle of season where it can damage the karma of the team. It right before spring training where they can absorb the bad news coverage for a week or two. then the world classic rolls around & before we know it it is opening day & the writers will write about current events & this will be old news.

  47. Tony says:

    So much for the slow news cycle…

  48. MoReifer says:

    I have always had a hard time rooting for the Rod. As someone mentioned above, he comes across as fake and contrieved. We will all get to see what will be the biggest example of this in the coming months. Giambi appears to have an enduring personality, great clubhouse guy and is someone you would love to have a beer with. When Giambino was “outed” I wanted to give him every benefit of the doubt, when that was no longer posible, I wanted to forgive him.

    Arod is the “anti-giambi” and because of this will not come through this in a respectable manner. He is the new Bonds/ Clemens unless he takes the Giambi/Petite approach. If he ( or someone else) decides for him that the Bons/Clemens approach is the way to go, we are the new SF Giants fanbase. Having to root for a villian, for another 9 years.

    Thanks Rod.

  49. THE KID says:

    I think disappointment is the right word to describe it.

    But here’s my thing. What good was the Mitchell report and what good is drudging this stuff up on players that is five, six years old? I don’t get it.

    Let’s fix the problem and move forward. What good does it do the player or MLB to have this stuff brought up now that’s so old? Nobody here is stupid, we all know it went on and no names are going to surprise us anymore. Key word being WENT on (sure there’s the occasional minor leaguer or fringe major leaguer, but nothing like 4,5,6 years ago).

    Let’s move forward…please!!!

    And I can’t wait to get to the office tomorrow. The whole state of Wisconsin was already bitter at me and my Yankee affiliation due to the signing of Sabathia…now i’ve got to hear about A-Rod (even though this allegedly happened when he was with the Rangers…Brewer Nation doesn’t know/care, they just need something more to hate on).

  50. Jake H says:

    I’m disappointed but that was 2003. He shouldn’t have done it but he was 1 of 104 players who tested positive. That was 4 plus teams worth of players. Who else might have been using something that they couldn’t detect. He’s been tested probably multiple times each year now and has come up clean. I do feel that these government officials who keep leaking sealed testimony should be fired and prosecuted. If the government seals something it should stay sealed.

  51. Matthew says:

    Joe Torre had it 100% correct….A-Fraud. Everything about this guy is a lie. He’s freaking head case, and I am personally sick of it.

    I was all in favor of the Yanks letting A-Roid walk when he opted out. He’s a cancer in the clubhouse, greedy, and just a ‘Me’ guy.

    Everything about this guy is a lie. From mid ’04 he apparently knew about this. How many times has he said he’s never failed a test. Not that I thought he was going to say ‘yeah, I tested positive in 2004′, but you can go Jeter-like and answer it without answering it.

    It just sucks the Yanks will have to live with this for 9, count em 9, more years….

  52. tedbrogen says:

    Everyone understands that baseball players have been using performance enhancing drugs since the 1940′s, right?

    Back then they were called “greenies”. They were actually amphetamines (aka speed) used to boost a players energy and focus in the middle of the grueling season. These are the same type of drugs that now get a player suspended.

    There is even a story that Hank Aaron either admitted he tried greenies or a player on his team say him use them. (Too lazy to google for it right now).

    These are simply facts (that everyone chooses to ignore).

  53. Rob S. says:

    -first off, screw the media. I don’t trust a damn word that they say or their opinions.

    -any time I hear a Yankee fan talk about A-Rod being an adulterer I wish someone would kick their ass. It’s none of your business and has zero to do with baseball. How does anyone know that Cindy is not a psycho bitch. Stop letting the media tell you what to think.

    -the ONLY thing I’m disappointed about is that we’re under a week away from spring training and two months away from opening a brand new stadium and now we have this huge distraction that will carry through this whole season and probably beyond. God I wish I could just focus on baseball.

    -I support Alex Rodriguez 100% regardless of anything. I just hope he handles this right. If you did steroids even once then admit it, apologize, call it stupid. Take ownership of it instead of letting other people stick it to you. If you never took steroids then deny it and try to clear your name. Just don’t be like Clemens and deny it if you’re actually guilty.

  54. Kelvin-Php says:

    So now, all those numbers and stats of arod are due to cheating? What about all those talks about arod having an incredible work ethic? doing extra drills, being the last one to go home despite being the first one to get in the stadium?

    I could only hope he mashes his way to his best season ever. Like hitting 50+ HR with 150+ rbis and hitting very effectively in the clutch.

    I also hope the whole team pitches, mashes, and defends to the best that they could.

    I hope that everyone would rally as one and get number 27.

  55. Patrick says:

    This is pretty much how I feel, too, Ben. Well stated. I’m so disappointed and deflated by all of this.

  56. barry says:

    if only pot was legal, no one would care about steroids.

  57. Holly C. says:

    No matter what varying opinions we might share on how baseball is played. Plain and simple I will never condone a player who is so desperate to obtain a record that they would result to something poor (AKA steriods).I guess the least someone could do is fess up to their actions and bust their ass on the field next time. I will just make sure whenever I see a steroid fuled player in a televised game I willl switch over to another game instead. At least now I can try to interprete a game that is worth preserving some sort of decency left in baseball.

    • usty says:

      There’s never been decency in baseball. Our 24 hour TMZ style coverage by SI and ESPN just outs guys now. Baseball is a game that’s been full of philanderers, speed users, cokeheads, racists and so on. This pretending that basedball used to be some magical fairytale land of only good guys needs to end.

    • Klemy says:

      “I will just make sure whenever I see a steroid fuled player in a televised game I willl switch over to another game instead.”

      Good luck with that. You’re likely just finding another game with an equally fueled player, whether you know it or not.

  58. Matt says:

    This post sums up my feelings perfectly. Great job, Ben.

  59. Mike says:

    Talk about totally deflating the excitement for this upcoming season. Disappointment is not even the word to describe how I feel.

  60. Jake Gottfried says:

    It’s just disappointing in the biggest way possible. All of this hope for a new beginning with this team that we as yankee fans are all so excited about and then AROD becomes a black mark again. I just picture opening day for the new stadium, CC on the mound (if it turns out to be his turn), big tex at first, our hero Jeter back again to prove hes not that far down the road to decline. What happens when AROD’s name gets called, what are we supposed to do?

    Any chance he had to win our hearts and become a real yankee are gone, i hate my third baseman. I’ll root for him just so the yankees win but he couldn’t have turned out to have been worse for this team.

    this just confirms how much of an ass he is

  61. [...] Spring Training 2009: Five questions for the Yankees  / Disappointment [...]

  62. LiveFromNewYork says:

    I don’t understand how a speculative story leaked by someone who wants to sell a book has people writing off Yankee baseball 09. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

    Andy Pettite took the mound to love and adoration after his PED story hit. Yes, he was part of the championship team and he told the truth, but if Arod screwed with something for a little while BEFORE HE WAS A YANKEE how in the world will that ruin an entire season of baseball ?

  63. Whitey14 says:

    Very nice piece Ben. I commend you.

    “Who are our heroes after all?”

    Whenever anybody has asked me that recently I’ve responded the same way: My Mom and Dad. In the words of The Boss, they “got up every morning and went to work each day”. They worked hard, made a decent a living and provided a stable and supportive homelife for my sister and I. I can understand youngsters who love A Rod being crushed by this though. Jim Rice was my hero as a kid. He carried injured teammates off the field, he carried injured fans to the first aid station and he broke up brawls on the field rather than inciting them. He also had the balls to go into the stands in NY and grab his hat back from a douchebag that had grabbed it off his head. I’m sure I would feel pretty crushed if I found out he had cheated or used illegal drugs to get an edge, but I wouldn’t be too hard on A Rod. Until I see the proof, or hear a confession, I’ll stay out of the bashing that has begun in earnest. Like him or hate him, he’s human and therefore subject to tempatation just like the rest of us.

  64. Axl says:

    The following was posted by somebody on another board…and it makes perfect sense:

    A-Rod and Steroids: Just Move On
    It didn’t get much play in the press, but if you were paying attention last week you may have read that Bud Selig earned $18.35 million for his job running baseball in 2007. If you’re looking for an overpriced bogeyman for the game’s steroid problem, I’d suggest you start with him, and not Alex Rodriguez. It was Selig who buried his head in the sand when the problem was at its peak, and it is Selig who, more than anyone, is responsible for the caustic relationship between players and owners that has precluded any serious movement on various critical issues for the game over the last two decades, PEDs among them. Which is not to say that the players and their union aren’t culpable. But let’s face reality: despite George Mitchell’s very dubious report, we’re never going to get a full accounting of what happened during the “steroid era.” Naming names just harms the product to no good end, nevermind the patently disgraceful way the names are getting out. The hemming and hawing about records not being legit is, to me, ridiculous. Records are records. They are what happened. The drug culture was pervasive during the 1990s and into the 2000s. It may still be ongoing. It’s worth noting that the best scientific evidence fairly conclusively (to my mind) indicates that steroids were for the most part a non-factor in the numbers explosion of the period in question. Did some players get a leg up? I suppose. That’s life. It’s unfair. Get used to it. And please don’t pretend that there is anything sacred about the numbers in the record book. Ruth played in a league without integration, for goodness sake.

    What becomes of Alex, though? He already had a PR problem on his hands; he’s now looking at the Everest of image issues. My guess is he puts up another fine year, and I won’t be surprised one bit if he has the October his detractors have so long demanded. He has the talent, and baseball is a numbers game. With the stacked Yankee roster, he should get his opportunities. We’ll see what history has to say. We’ve got a long way to go.

    I watch baseball because I love to see the game played and played well, and to cheer on my favorite team. I’m fascinated by its history, but I’m not captive to it. The game is entertainment. I wish it was better entertainment, and I wish its custodians did a far better job policing and protecting it from themselves. But we’re not going to go back in time to fix the past; that can’t be done. If I’m upset about anything, it’s that what should be a fun spring is going to be incessantly interrupted by this story, which should never have come to be in the first place. So you’ll please excuse me if I ignore it to the best of my ability. I suggest you do the same, though I’m guessing it’s just not going to be that easy.

  65. [...] noticed includes a quote from a commenter on this very site. Specifically, they’re quoting this comment from reader JM. While the three of us are certainly honored to appear in the paper – nevermind on the front page – [...]

  66. [...] little A-Rod-centric universe was seemingly crumbling around itself, I was deeply, deeply disappointment in someone I had assumed was above it all. A-Rod was good ol’ natural talent, and he [...]

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