Weasel on the Needle: A-Rod Goes Artificial
What is it with guys and performance enhancement? Always seems to be the shallow, self absorbent salsa brains that seek it. Then they get caught, apologize, and miraculously undergo life-changing epiphanies in front of a network camera. That doesn’t fly with me. It doesn’t make things okay. Alex Rodriguez has been given the benefit of the doubt time and time again, and after his admission of using “banned substances,” my conviction that Rodriguez is a genuine Samsonite head-case is fully confirmed.
It’s been an eight-year argument into which I’ve been repeatedly submerged. Rodriguez has never been all he’s cracked up to be. Remember the $252 million deal he signed to play for the Texas Rangers beginning in 2001? Well, he blamed the big money for the stress and pressure that was put on him to perform “at a high level every day”. The guy tripped over himself twice in his first game, and made a throwing oops on the first ball hit to him in the same game! I don’t even want to calculate how much those plays alone were worth! And if he was such a great ballplayer, great ballplayers know that baseball is a game of patience and perseverance, not slam-bam-yahtzee-cram every single at-bat. We didn’t see Derek Jeter panic during his seemingly century-long hitless streak years back and reach for the syringe, did we? No. But Rodriguez had to stand out in a way that would make him exalted, and steroids were his backbone—literally.
Give. Me. A. Break. These were my exact words when watching some of the analysts on the MLB Network talk about what a great thing it was for Rodriguez that he admitted to using banned substances, and the oh so heavy burden it was to be a baseball player in that era. Players felt the pressure to perform or lose their job, so they HAD to turn to steroids. I swear I saw Harold Reynolds’ intelligence pack its bags and walk right out of the studio after that comment. Al Leiter must have had dibs on the brains for the broadcast because he’s the one that stood up for the players who never took performance-enhancers. There were plenty of players who never used steroids, because they made something—it’s called a “choice.”
Rodriguez’s interview could have been more cut and dry. Instead of saying, “I made a mistake. I took steroids and now understand that my entire career is pretty much a giant betrayal of the game,” he weaseled through it with comments like this: “ I mean, there's things that have been removed from GNC today that would trigger a positive test.” Oh, St. Alex, what a martyr. Did that Whey Protein shake and Mega-Men multi-vitamin show up on your test? If you were “experimenting” in the “loosey-goosey” times of the early 2000s, you had to have some kind of clue that what you were doing was a big no-no. Sincerity really took a hike during the interview, and I can’t believe Peter Gammons let Rodriguez hop over certain questions with, “You have to understand the time and culture.” Alex, Gammons is about twice your age. He lived through the sixties for crying out loud. Understanding that culture for Gammons is like you making sub-par decisions from 2001-God knows when. Catch my drift?
At any rate, the beginning of the season quickly approaches for the Yankees and their “enhanced” third baseman (who’s to say he’s not using in New York? He’s been booed more times than evil, which isn’t the best medicine for someone with a psyche as messed up as his; and he hasn’t exactly been the most honest individual—even with himself). The focus is on the upcoming season, and Captain Derek Jeter has informed the media that he will comment on Rodriguez’s little chemistry project in good time. Until then, Jeter will probably be working out, taking ground balls, throwing, etc. You know, being a ballplayer.
You know, there’s a great pride in those who are given the privilege to wear pinstripes at some point in their Major League career. They are the New York Yankees.
In a couple of months on Opening Day, the Yankees will take the field for the first time at the New Yankee Stadium.
It’ll be a thunderous roar—for all eight of them.
By: Tim Gaffney
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