Results tagged ‘ Peter Gammons ’

A-Rod and the magic vial

arod_bible_250_021709.jpgI watched the Alex Rodriguez press conference so you wouldn’t have to, and I have to say that you didn’t miss much. Certainly nothing was said that would convert an A-Rod skeptic or critic into a believer or supporter. Rodriguez hit upon a singularly bad turn of phrase when he said, “I’m here to take my medicine.” However, his answers were basically evasive. He repeatedly fell back on the excuse of youth (he was 25) and naivete, wishing several times that he had gone to college instead of being a Major Leaguer at 18.

That’s fine as far as it goes, but his claims of innocence and ignorance are inconsistent with his other answers. Rodriguez explained that he had little knowledge of the substance he was being injected with, didn’t know how to use it, wasn’t really sure what benefit he received from taking it — he said it was supposed to provide “energy” and did confirm that he felt more energetic — and wasn’t even sure that it was a banned substance. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. At the same time, he felt, he said, that he couldn’t reach out for education, because his use had to be secretive.

These two sentiments seem to conflict. Rodriguez was ambivalent about the illegality of his usage, but felt that he had to conceal that usage. That doesn’t exactly scream “innocent mistake.” Say this for Mark McGwire: he had the stuff out on his locker shelf for all to see, because he didn’t think he was doing anything wrong. One doesn’t take pains to conceal what one does not feel the need to conceal. You ever sneak an extra dessert when no one is looking and carefully throw away the wrapper so there’s no evidence? That’s one Twinkie that just disappeared. Could have been anyone who took it, since there’s no evidence to connect you to the crime, whereas, the legit food that came with dinner, you didn’t sneak under the table to eat it. You had it right out there in front of everyone else.

Now, we all conceal certain things out of fear of embarrassment or ridicule. That is only human — we do not share 100 percent of ourselves, even with our closest loved ones. Maybe you don’t want the wife to know about the time you wound up on the observation deck of the Empire State Building without any pants. More likely, you don’t want the wife to know about the time you thought about being on the observation deck of the Empire State Building without any pants, because that might lead to other, more difficult questions, such as, “So what was it about that scenario that appealed to you?” Her perception of you might change, if only she knew what lurked in the unswept corners of the Id. That’s true of her for you as well, and all of us.

This kind of discretion is distinct from concealing something that you know or strongly suspect is criminal and will open you up to some form of official sanction. If A-Rod was the naf he claims to be, would he have simply taken a random drug for “energy?” One suspects at least a bit of familiarity with the possibilities of such “aids,” just as one suspects a pretty clear understanding of the consequences of dabbling.

There were other inconsistencies, like this apparent need to rehearse his story with the unnamed “cousin” who suddenly became a major character in the story, one who was not mentioned to Peter Gammons or Katie Couric or Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor. These things hardly seem worth commenting on, except to say that today’s conference was about Rodriguez regaining his credibility, and it doesn’t seem like that happened.

Of course, none of these concerns go to the bottom line, which, as A-Rod correctly pointed out, is that he had his best season in 2007, and there has been a testing regimen in place for a few years now, one that seems to have been successful in nailing quite a few players. There remains little evidence that steroids do much more for ballplayers than build muscle, or that Rodriguez’s numbers were affected in any significant way. He remains one of the best ballplayers in the business and also one of the hardest to like. From the point of view of winning pennants, one out of two ain’t bad.