Posts Tagged ‘PEDs’

Banished. Barred. Banned.

Sunday, January 12th, 2014
Photo: Keith Allison

Photo: Keith Allison

No matter how you phrase it, the arbitrator handed down his decision yesterday and A-Rod is done for 2014. There’s a lot of speculation about what will happen in subsequent years – does he stage a comeback in 2015 at age 39, do the Yankees cut him loose and eat the remainder of his contract, does another team take a chance on him, etc. – but for the immediate future the Yankees are without their third baseman.

I wasn’t surprised the suspension was upheld, though cut down to 162 games. And I wasn’t surprised that A-Rod and his legal team intend to fight it or even that he’s pledged to show up at spring training next month no matter what anybody says. But here’s the thing about that. If he respects his teammates as much as he claims, if he respects his manager as much as he claims, if he respects the game as much as he claims, why show up in Tampa and create a circus? Why make Girardi answer daily questions about him when there’s a season to kick off? What’s he going to do on the bench: be a mentor, a cheerleader, a signer of autographs? Someone on Twitter suggested he should buy season tickets at Yankee Stadium and sit right behind the dugout if he wants in so badly. But at this point, the best thing he could do for his teammates and for the sport is to focus on fighting the fight, if that’s his choice, and staying in shape.

And speaking of those teammates, they really do need a good third baseman. I don’t have faith in Nunez over the course of the season and the other guys Cashman has picked up are utility players and don’t have much in the offensive department. But at least there’s some closure and the Yanks know for sure that there’s a need.

Mostly, I feel sad about all this. Alex Rodriguez started his baseball life as a young man with everything to gain. So much talent. So much promise. So much desire. Squandered.

And then there’s MLB. They don’t exactly come out looking clean either.

Yesterday wasn’t a good day for either side, if you ask me.

P.S.  Programming note. “60 Minutes” will have a segment with Scott Pelley interviewing the infamous Bosch, who will, apparently, provide “evidence.” I’ll be switching back and forth between this and the much more fun Golden Globes.

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Yes, I’m Posting About Juicing

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

I hate the subject of PEDs. I was over it when Lance Armstrong went on Oprah and I’m still over it. But I’d be negligent if I didn’t at least acknowledge that the Yankees have had a bad week with regard to all the news coming out of Miami, which appears to be the “anti-aging” capital of the world.

A-Rod said, “It’s all a mistake, a forgery.” Cervelli said, “I was just consulting Bosch about my rehab.” Jesus Montero said, “I seem to be caught in the middle of something.” Blah blah blah.

Who knows what the whole truth is. What I don’t understand is why the New Times newspaper can’t just turn over their documents to MLB and the Feds and let them take it from there. Why would a newspaper hang onto this stuff? Why do these investigations drag on forever? And, above all, why must athletes always be so desperate to gain an advantage?

Maybe if they had brains and a sense of self-worth, they would figure out a way to play their sport the best they can and then move on to “regular pursuits” like the rest of us have to.

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I’m Leaving All This To Tyler Kepner, For Now

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

As everyone knows, A-Rod’s been implicated yet again in a ‘roids mess. Personally, I’m still getting over his last admission. Remember the blue sweater interview?

AP Photo/ESPN

Remember how I was wearing my own blue sweater that night in sympathy?

Well, this time I’m just waiting for the next step in the investigation. A-Rod has denied everything, as has Gio Gonzalez, and he’s even hired super defense attorney Roy Black. It looks bad, people. Will the Yankees be able to void his contract? I seriously doubt it. He didn’t fail a drug test, which is really the only allowable criterion short of the morals clause and nobody pays much attention to that. One can’t help viewing this news in the context of Lance Armstrong, also a longtime denier who bullied his accusers. The only person who benefits on the Yankees right now is Kevin Youkilis.

Here’s the latest from the New York Times‘ Tyler Kepner who’s known Al from his Mariners days. I was amused to see how Tyler starts off his piece with a reference to marriage – something I did in my first “Confessions” article for the Times.

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Rodriguez Linked Anew to Prohibited Drugs (January 30, 2013)

The Yankees had dated Alex Rodriguez for four years before popping the question after the 2007 season: Will you take this 10-year, $275 million contract? Rodriguez said yes, and together they have had some fun. But a marriage that starts with a lie is bound to fall apart, and that is what has happened.

Rodriguez’s contract, which now strangles the Yankees’ future, might be the most lucrative con in baseball history. It colors everything about him. Tuesday’s revelation in the Miami New Times, which tied him to a supplier of performance-enhancing drugs as recently as last season, was another reminder of his deceit.

The relationship might be over soon. Rodriguez’s latest public-relations firm (he has had several) issued a statement Tuesday in which he denied being a patient of the shuttered anti-aging clinic in the story. But baseball is investigating, and with good cause; three of the players named in the report — Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon and Yasmani Grandal — were suspended last season after positive drug tests.

The results of baseball’s investigation, in theory, could help the Yankees if they attempt to void Rodriguez’s contract. That would not be easy — the Yankees failed to do it with Jason Giambi — but there may be another exit strategy.

The Yankees have continued to emphasize the seriousness of Rodriguez’s hip injury, with General Manager Brian Cashman asserting last week that it could keep him out all season, not just for the first half. The natural next step in that progression is that the injury would end his career, as it did for Albert Belle of the Baltimore Orioles in 2001. This would allow Rodriguez to collect his money — but with insurance, not the Yankees, covering most of it.

That is the dream outcome, anyway, but for now the Yankees are still obligated to pay Rodriguez the five years and $114 million remaining on the deal they gave him before they knew of his chemical past.

That folly is mostly on the Yankees, of course. Hank Steinbrenner had assumed command that fateful winter, vowing to cut Rodriguez loose after he opted out of his contract. Instead, he rewarded Rodriguez with the richest deal in baseball history, even though no other team was known to be bidding, say, nine years. In retaining Rodriguez, the Yankees also passed on a much younger third baseman, Miguel Cabrera, who was traded to Detroit and now annually knocks the Yankees from the playoffs.

It is an amusing footnote that Rodriguez’s contract was officially announced on Dec. 13, 2007, the day Major League Baseball released the Mitchell Report on steroids. Rodriguez, who had always denied steroid use, was not named in the report. Part of the reason for the length of the deal was the presumption that he was clean and would chase Barry Bonds’s tainted home run record in pinstripes.

It was all a fraud, or “A-Fraud,” to use the term that Joe Torre revealed in his book to be a clubhouse nickname for Rodriguez. Fourteen months after signing the contract, Rodriguez admitted he had used steroids from 2001 to 2003.

Lying about steroid use is hardly shocking, but Rodriguez was pathological. Consider this passage from a recent interview by the writer Jeff Pearlman with Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci, who recalled a conversation with Rodriguez in 2002:

“It was in his hotel suite in Chicago after a game one night. He looked at me like I had two heads. ‘Steroids? Gee, why would anybody take them? What do they do? I don’t know anything about it.’ I walked out of the suite shaking my head about his complete and theatrical lack of knowledge about the worst-kept secret in the game. It would be seven years later that we all discovered, by his own admission, that he was loaded to the gills on steroids at that very moment.”

When Sports Illustrated finally exposed Rodriguez as a steroid user, part of his response was to smear the reporter, Selena Roberts, by falsely claiming that she tried to break into his home while his children were sleeping. He sounded vaguely like Michael Corleone with that line, except Rodriguez has always been the Fredo of the Yankee family, awkward and envious and insecure.

Such insecurity has surely fueled Rodriguez’s drive to achieve, while also influencing his many bizarre decisions. He has denied many of them, like sending a baseball to some women in the stands during a playoff game last fall, but with his history of lying, who knows what to believe?

Rodriguez will always have his apologists, mostly people who have never had to deal with him and have never been part of his web of deceit. To some who know him well, including the Yankees and Major League Baseball, he is a source of irritation at best, slippery and duplicitous at worst.

Remember that Rodriguez continued to lie to the Yankees even after admitting his past steroid use. After his first hip surgery, in 2009, he maintained to the team that he had not seen Anthony Galea, the Canada-based physician who pleaded guilty two years later to federal charges stemming from his distribution of human growth hormone to professional athletes.

Rodriguez had, in fact, seen Galea, and baseball officials and the Yankees remain unsure that they know the extent of his links to performance-enhancing drugs. The Yankees might be inclined to overlook that if Rodriguez were still an elite player. But his production slips every year.

That fact, of course, cannot be forgotten. If Rodriguez were a healthy superstar, the Yankees would still want him around. They might have even supported him in their terse statement on Tuesday, which pledged support for baseball’s drug program and noted that the matter was now under the jurisdiction of the commissioner’s office.

Rodriguez has won a championship and two Most Valuable Player awards in New York. He is a historically significant Yankee, emblematic of a complicated era for the game and the team. But the sideshows never end, and it is hard to argue he belongs here anymore.

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