Posts Tagged ‘steroids’

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?


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.


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.


Talk About An “I Don’t Care Moment”

Friday, March 18th, 2011

I was perusing MLB’s home page tonight and saw the story about Bonds’ perjury trial; it begins Monday. Does anyone still care about Bonds or whether he committed perjury?

Well, let me rephrase. I care as someone might care on a distant galaxy – far, far away.

This case just seems very old and well past its expiration date. Why? Because we already know the following:

  1. Guys used steroids.
  2. Guys lied about using steroids.
  3. Not all the guys used steroids, but a lot of them did.
  4. The guys who did use steroids may or may not get into the Hall of Fame.

Isn’t that it in a nutshell? What more is there to say?

P.S. In Yankees news, A.J. Burnett was the Bad A.J. today. I’m not giving up on him though. Not entirely.


Is There Any Chance That Clemens Didn’t Use ‘Roids?

Friday, February 11th, 2011

We all saw him on “60 Minutes” telling Mike Wallace that he was innocent. We all saw him in Washington, D.C. telling members of Congress that Pettitte “misremembered.” We all saw him at that weirdo press conference telling the media that Brian McNamee was a sniveling weasel. (I don’t doubt that one.) And, of course, we all saw his ‘roid-y behavior throughout the years, including the Piazza bat throwing incident.

Still, is it possible he’s been telling the truth and he didn’t use steroids/HGH?

I didn’t think so either until I read this ESPN story today.

Clemens and his lawyers want every document ever generated by this whole mess – from summaries in the Mitchell Report and communications between the House Committee members who questioned him to testimony from Gene Monahan and Laura Pettitte. I realize that his legacy is on the line and he’s desperate to do whatever it takes to clear his name – and that issuing subpoenas to everybody and their brother is part of any legal defense. But I can’t get over how hard he’s fighting this perjury case. He’s determined not to go quietly. The only one who continues to believe he’s innocent is that infamous truth teller, Jose Canseco. I always found Canseco’s steadfast support for The Rocket bizarre unless….Clemens really is innocent?


I Doubt This Is True But…

Friday, January 7th, 2011

What do I know? In case you didn’t see the ESPNNew York article today about Petttte’s reluctance to come back, take a look.

Clemens reason for Pettitte’s pause? Yankees lefty still waffling about next season as The Rocket’s perjury trial looms

By Wallace Matthews

Nearly four years after he cashed his last Yankees paycheck, $18 million for a half-season’s work and a 6-6 record, it is possible that Roger Clemens is still exacting a heavy price from the team.  We are now barely a month away from the beginning of spring training and Andy Pettitte has still not decided whether he wants to pitch in 2011.

On Thursday, he told a New York Post reporter who showed up on his doorstep in Deer Park, Texas, the same thing he told reporters in the clubhouse in Arlington the night the Yankees were eliminated by the Texas Rangers, the same thing he has been telling the Yankees during their infrequent conversations this offseason: that he hasn’t made a decision. All season long, I believed his reason — a desire to spend time at home with his young but growing family, a desire I can relate to with two children of my own. But now, as Pettitte continues to dither on what he really wants to do, the thought occurs that there might be another factor at work.

Clearly, it’s not a matter of ability — Pettitte’s 11-2 record up to the point of his groin injury in July that robbed him of two months of the season proves he can still pitch, and probably better than anyone in the Yankees’ rotation not named Carsten Charles.

And it’s not a matter of money — right now, the Yankees’ payroll sits at a treacherously low $170 million and with Cliff Lee out of the picture, you know that $30 million of Boss Bucks is just burning a hole in Brian Cashman’s pocket.

So either Pettitte wants to pitch, or he doesn’t.

What’s taking him so long to decide?

Well, maybe it is what is waiting for him in July, a hot seat on the witness stand in the upcoming federal perjury trial against Clemens. Pettitte is expected to be the government’s star witness against his former teammate and buddy, and in fact, might be the only man standing between The Rocket and a jail cell.

Clemens, of course, is a slimy character. His accuser, Brian McNamee, is every bit as slimy with a background that is maybe even more shady. No matter how strong the evidence or how many dirty syringes McNamee saved in a soda can in his basement, his and Clemens’ testimony will probably cancel one another out just on the sleaze factor alone.

That leaves Pettitte, and his word, as the swing vote — and you know Clemens’ attorney, Rusty Hardin, is going after Pettitte in the only areas he can in order to discredit his testimony. He is going to do his level best to crush Pettitte’s reputation for honesty and sincerity and religious convictions. Simply put, he is likely to try to paint Pettitte as a lying hypocrite whose word cannot and should not be trusted.

The cross-examination could get embarrassing and highly personal.

And in a situation like that, pitching for the New York Yankees every five days and facing a ravenous media horde on a daily basis is not exactly where anyone in his or her right mind would want to be.

In that context, Pettitte’s indecision becomes not only clear, but quite understandable. When Pettitte says he hasn’t decided, it seems to mean that he really wants to pitch, but something is keeping him from committing himself to it.

True, there have been other offseasons in which he waited until well into January to decide — one season, he announced his decision on Jan. 26 — but never one in which this kind of thing was looming over his head.

Facing reporters to answer questions regarding his HGH use in a news conference in spring training was like an appearance on “The View” compared with being grilled by a defense attorney trying to keep a client out of jail.

My guess is the fear of that is keeping Pettitte on the shelf so far this winter — and if so, then Clemens is about to drag down his old team once again.

This, of course, is as much the Yankees’ fault as it is Clemens’ — for forging an unholy alliance with a player almost universally despised in their clubhouse before he joined them, for indulging his “special desires,” for allowing him to write his own rules. Clemens pitched well in his first stint with the Yankees, but the negative things he brought along with him negate many of his accomplishments.

He embarrassed the team by throwing a broken bat at Mike Piazza, forcing Joe Torre into the impossible position of having to defend the indefensible. He forced them to hire McNamee, who brought his own variety of shame and dishonor to the club.

Clemens, too, strung the Yankees along on what seemed like an annual Hamlet routine of to pitch or not to pitch, one year even going so far as to accept thousands of dollars worth of ”retirement gifts” — only to resurface the next year as a member of the Houston Astros. He neither returned the gifts nor showed an ounce of embarrassment.

But his crowning achievement came in 2007, when he played the Yankees for an $18 million contract — more like $28 million if projected over a full season — sat out until June, and then delivered a .forgettable 500 season. That was followed by his star turn in the Mitchell report, his shameful performance before Congress in which he introduced the word “misremembered” to the sports lexicon, and then he slunk off, many of us thought, forever.

But now, perhaps he is rearing his ugly head again. Now, he may be one of the reasons — not the only one, of course — why the Yankees head into spring training with a pitching rotation that is decidedly third-best in the division. Perhaps he is the reason Pettitte is so reluctant to do what it appears he really would like to do for one more season.

As a man who has ties to both the Yankees and Pettitte told me Friday, “He’s afraid of a lot of things right now. People have told him he’s going to be a major distraction this year. He knows his name is going to be dragged through the mud and he knows that when you’re a Yankee, there’s nowhere to hide.”

Maybe Pettitte is hoping Clemens will come to his senses and cop a plea before his case ever gets to trial. Maybe he is waiting to see if U.S. district judge Reggie Walton, who has already pushed back the start date from April to July, will delay the trial further, to October or November.

Or maybe he really is wrestling with the issues he discussed all season, the struggle between wanting to continue doing what he does so well and wanting to enjoy his family while they are still around to be enjoyed.

But if that was the whole story, you would think he would have made his decision by now.

Something is keeping Andy Pettitte from issuing the final verdict on his 2011 intentions.

Perhaps it’s the prospect of having to testify against Roger Clemens and stand up to what could be a public humiliation, both in the courtroom and in the clubhouse.

If that’s the case, then once again The Rocket will have cost his former team a whole lot more than just money.

Even if Andy does have concerns about having to leave the team to appear at a July trial, I’m sure the Yankees would accommodate him. And by then we’ll have Felix Hernandez so no problem! Honestly, I really hope the Clemens thing isn’t messing with our rotation. The Rocket and his weasel-of-a-former-trainer have done enough damage to the franchise already.