The Rodriguez discontents

arod_250_043009.jpgThe latest leaks from Selena Roberts’ A-Rod takedown have hit the newsstands, and it’s just endless fun. I mean that sarcastically. I guess it was sadly inevitable that Rodriguez’s “I only used steroids from 2003 to 2005” line was going to be challenged. As I wrote here at the time, Rodriguez’s entire press conference didn’t pass the smell test. Perhaps he should have checked with Roberts first to see if she had more on him before he went out and put the two of them in conflict again.

About the best we can do at this point is to point out again that just about every conclusion drawn about steroids and other so-called performance enhancers is that the enhancement is entirely suppositional. They make you get bigger — provided you work out like a nut. As the book apparently suggests, they can cause gynecomastia, or breasts in males. What they cannot do, and no one has ever proven they can do, not even Barry Bonds, is hit for a higher average or more power. I know that sounds naïve at first glance, but if you think through it reasonably it becomes clear that the size of your muscles are not determinant in baseball. There has to be other stuff going on for a player to succeed, things that require skills and precision. None of that changes the fact that the use of such substances is unethical at best and illegal at worst, and if you want to further revise your opinion of Rodriguez downward a few notches, be my guest.

I suppose that the news that Rodriguez sometimes tipped pitches to pals will get more play at this point, but I wonder if it will be merited. There is an old tradition, going back to the game’s earliest days, of sometimes giving a friend a gift in a game that’s already been decided. You can find countless anecdotes about this kind of thing in baseball history books. What we don’t know is (A) is such a thing still considered acceptable behavior in baseball, and (B) were Rodriguez’s pitchers in on it? If they weren’t, they might have a bone to pick, or a bat.

In the end, there’s not much left for us to do — us being we the spectators and A-Rod — except to persevere, to hope that the past is in the past. If he lacks character, that’s fine. No one says you have to have him over to dinner and he’s probably not going to try to date your daughter. A lot of the great stars were not good people. Some have posited that it was exactly that quality, principally narcissism, that made them great stars. Drive has to be fueled by something, and it might as well be self-regard. In the meantime, the Yankees need him, need him to play like he’s always played (except for the part about runners in scoring position). If he’s clean, this will all go away long before Roberts’ book is remaindered.

And if not, it’s going to become spectacularly tedious, especially at any time that the Yankees aren’t winning and people are looking for stories.

I was looking over Joba Chamberlain’s fine line from last night when my wife came into the room. I pointed out the box score — seven innings, three hits, one run, three walks, six strikeouts, a win. Stefanie looked at it and said, “Yes, but he’d be even better in the bullpen!” and walked away laughing. What made this doubly wonderful is that not only do I have a satirical spouse, which you can’t get just anywhere, but you can find people writing exactly that — no matter how good Joba was in a particular game, he would always have been better doing something else.

I’ll be back later with some additional thoughts on Joba, the season debut of 20-Game Watch (usually 30-Game Watch but we’re not there yet), and the Around section. 


  1. juliasrants

    A word of advice – ALWAYS! listen to your wife…now if I could only get my husband to remember that! lol! The A-Rod saga is just becoming very sad and I can’t help but wonder how that distraction will hurt the Yankees as a whole.


  2. letsgoyankees

    I hate Selena Roberts.
    Does A-Rod really deserve this? Think carefully before you answer. All A-Rod did was cheat in baseball, and people hate him. They’re writing tell-all books about him and trying to ruin his life. He’s a ballplayer, for Pete’s sake, and one the Yankees need right now. Just let him play the game!

  3. jeff1112

    This is just a sad situation. I don’t really care about this stuff concerning A-Rod anymore. It’s not like he can be ruined any further, but if its possible to prove he has used more than he admitted his entire career as a baseball player comes into question. I think he just needs to be left alone to play the game he loves. Not to defend the actions of Selena Roberts, but I don’t think it was her goal to defame, disgrace, and discredit A-Rod. She was probably just working on writing an expose and profile on A-Rod, but uncovered some unfortunate information that had to be released and would help her career. Like you were saying Steve, there’s lot more to being a successful baseball player than just strength and power, A-Rod may have cheated, but there was still an incredible amount of work that went into getting where he is now.


    Yes, steroids are not going to turn a Bret Gardner into Babe Ruth. You still have to have a lot of skill to benefit. But don’t you agree that steroids can benefit a player by turning some of those warning track fly outs into homers. So someone who was going to hit 30 homers, now can hit 40 or 50. It seems to make sense, no?


    You know if it wasn’t for the media Arod wouldn’t be any different than any of the other Yankee players. I am so sick of all his bad press. Selena Roberts should be fired. It’s funny how after she reported the drug abuse that her book was going to be released early to coincide with Opening Day. Then she finds out Arod wouldn’t be playing until May so the book release was pushed back to coincide with his return. Also, if what she is saying now is/was true, don’t you think anyone who knew anything about it would have come out of the woodwork to tell their story. Arod is called Afraud but the biggest fraud here is Selena Roberts. Media, leave Arod alone and let him do what he is good at.


    “What they cannot do, and no one has ever proven they can do, not even Barry Bonds, is hit for a higher average or more power.”

    I would agree that there’s little evidence that taking P.E.D.’s can increase one’s batting average, but isn’t it clear that when combined with more frequent and intense workouts that they allow, P.E.D.’s can increase an athlete’s power?

    Isn’t this why Ben Johnson took them?

    Doesn’t this explain how Jason Giambi went from being a 190-pound doubles hitter to the feared slugger that he became?

    It seems that you’re downplaying the effects that these drugs have.

    How many would-be fly outs for A-Rod became another tick in his career HR count because of the increase in power he almost certainly obtained through use of P.E.D.’s?

    How many deep fly outs for folks like Derek Jeter, Paul O’Neill, and Tino Martinez (assuming they never used P.E.D.’s) would have been home runs had they used drugs to increase muscle mass and power?

    In keeping with the assumption that Tino was clean, my view is that guys like Jason Giambi stole from guys like Tino.

    I think we should be careful about downplaying the performance enhancing effects of the drugs that folks like A-Rod and Giambi have admitted using.

    Enjoy your column…thank you. – Ben


    “What they cannot do, and no one has ever proven they can do, not even Barry Bonds, is hit for a higher average or more power.”

    Your reasoning is flawed in one important way. In a one game scenario, yes, steroids or HGH will probably not help you hit for much more power. The benefit comes because because over a 162 game season, steroids allow you to stay at or close to 100% more often.

    Bat speed and strength are not constant for a given person. A person has a certain amount of strength fully rested, but as the season progresses some games a player will be 100% and same games they will be 80%. Listen to comments about playing day games after night games. Often times the players comment on being tired or sluggish. Steroids helps you recover and play closer to 100%. It allows you to use your talent more regularly. But playing tired and sore is part of the game and using steroids to overcome that is cheating, plain and simple.

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