The circus has officially come to town, and it won’t be leaving any time soon. Hot on the heels of the news that A-Rod failed a 2003 drug test, baseball and its supposed drug problem has once again grabbed center stage in New York City. For the 2009 season, A-Rod and, by extension, the Yanks will be under the microscope.
Anyway, as the story developed during the course of the day, numerous threads developed. The Players Union and Alex Rodriguez will take spotlight, and this could get messier before it gets better. I’ll wrap them up for the open thread.
The A-Rod Angle
- MLB Network was all over this story today, and with Tom Verducci, Harold Reynolds and Bob Costas providing the commentary, the fledgling TV station did a great job. Obviously, they pointed to A-Rod’s 60 Minutes interview with Katie Couric from 2007. In the clip linked there, A-Rod categorically denies taking steroids. In another clip shown on TV today, A-Rod says he’s been tested “eight or nine times.”
At some point, one of these statements will be revealed as a lie, and my guess is that it’s the first one. I’d have to believe that A-Rod has been tested since the suspension program has been put into place. If he hasn’t failed those tests, would anyone care — or notice?
- How long did A-Rod know about this story? Why didn’t he tell anyone? Costas this afternoon talked with Sports Illustrated reporter Selena Roberts. She says she approached A-Rod in Miami on Thursday and received a “no comment” from the All Star. Sam Border wonders if A-Rod kept this from the Yanks and if so, why. A-Rod will have to comment on this report soon. Roberts certainly gave A-Rod more than enough opportunity to refute the story, and he declined to do so. That does not look good.
- NJ.com examines Primobolan, a designer drug designed to retain strength but minimize bulk. Selena Roberts said that this drug is quick to cycle out of a user’s system as well.
- MLB Trade Rumors notes that A-Rod’s contract is steroid-proof. Joel Sherman wonders if the Yanks regret re-signing A-Rod in 2007. There are nine years left in this marriage, and it seems like an eternity.
- It’s also worth noting that the portion of Roberts’ story that broke today is just a part of the story. From her interview, it sounds as though her larger piece will again blame the usual suspects of steroid users with Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez and Ivan Rodriguez due for another hit. On TV, she guessed that Scott Boras probably had an idea of what was going on with A-Rod in 2003 as well. Related: Does today’s revelation vindicate Jose Canseco? That’s debatable.
The Union Response
- Harold Reynolds and Bob Costas were both appalled at Roberts’ report that Gene Orza may have tipped off A-Rod to an impending drug test. Costas felt that this could be a blanket breach of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and that the owners could use this as leverage in their efforts to weaken the union when the CBA expires after 2011. It’s very possible that Orza’s job and the reputation of the Players Union are both on the line right now and how he handles the blowback will determine the future of the union.
- Why was the list from 2003 of the players who failed the screening drug test destroyed? The Union officials were supposed to destroy, and Ken Davidoff notes that the union leaders, who had the legal right to do so, completely dropped the ball. A lot of union members must be questioning their leadership right now.
The existence of this list may also, as Costas noted this afternoon, raise some Fourth Amendment issues.
- The Players Association and MLB both related statements focusing on the privacy angle. Neither organization refuted this report, and both noted that the samples should have been anonymous. What a disaster.
Keeping it all in perspective
- At one point this afternoon, Bob Costas compared the failure to handle the samples with the required care and anonymity to one of this country’s greatest and most shocking political scandals. “This is in the category of Nixon burning the tapes,” he said. Ross at New Stadium Insider wonders if the nation is ignoring larger problems for the spectacle of A-Rod. This is, after all, just a baseball story. Chew on that one for a bit. I think Ross has a valid point, but baseball has long been tied into American culture and identity. This is a fairly significant American scandal.
The Fine Print: Use this as your open thread tonight. Let’s not have any A-Rod or steroid flame wars. Play nice.