In one of the more even-keeled looks at the way the Alex Rodriguez PED story developed over the last few weeks, The New York Observer follows the reporting trail. While Selena Roberts broke the story, she was battling her former coworkers at The Times for the scoop, and it seemed just a matter of time before some news outlet broke the story.
The piece he assigned was not in fact this one: It was to revisit whether he actually fit in as a Yankee, and go over the last two seasons in which Mr. Rodriguez has been romantically linked to a stripper, subsequently divorced, and then linked, romantically again, to super-cougar Madonna…
There was plenty of material for a write-around. But as Ms. Roberts dug deeper into the story, she started hearing more and more credible information about Mr. Rodriguez’s use of steroids. And so a magazine piece that anyone could have written became, because of careful reporting, a nice, sharp, clean news break.
It was not a fast bit of work. David Hirshey, the executive editor at Harper, an imprint at HarperCollins, remembers the call he got from Ms. Roberts’ agent, Mark Reiter. “Mark told me about four months ago that Selena was deep in an investigative piece on A-Rod and she would probably need three issues of Sports Illustrated to tell it all,” said Mr. Hirshey. “And that there’d be a lot of great stuff left over.”
Meanwhile, across town on Eighth Avenue, the loss was especially painful. The Times had been chasing the A-Rod story. “We were working on it for many weeks,” said Tom Jolly, the paper’s sports editor. “It’s a story whenever there’s smoke around A-Rod for a period of time, and we were chasing that smoke.”
Say what you will about Ms. Roberts’ opining during the Duke Lacrosse debacle, but this story was uncovered through some good old investigative journalism. Whether or not it needed to or should have been published is a debate I will leave up to you.
The kicker though isn’t the way this story unfolded. Rather, it’s what is going to happen next.
“The book is still a work in progress,” said her book editor [David] Hirshey. “I assure you she has more drug revelations as well as other news. Not everything that Selena has on A-Rod’s steroid participation has come out yet.”
That’s the part that worries me as a baseball fan and a Yankee fan. At this point, it doesn’t really matter what further allegations Roberts’ book may hold. She could tell me that A-Rod took estrogen while riding on a purple unicorn, and I couldn’t care less. A-Rod’s reputation is in tatters, and what he did in the past — as Mark McGwire once said — doesn’t really matter anymore.
But as someone who wants to see the Yankees win and do well this year, the last thing this team needs is a mid-May publication of a book slamming A-Rod. That is, however, what awaits. Oh, how I long for the days of just last week when The Yankee Years was the worst thing surrounding this team. It is, as Derek said yesterday, always something around here.