Torre was merely referring to Rodriguez’s personality and frequent inability to come through in the clutch, particularly in the postseason, despite Rodriguez posting some of the best regular season offensive numbers in Major League Baseball history.
A week later, the way that Rodriguez achieved those very numbers is severely being called into question. Torre’s “A-Fraud” tag for the living legend “A-Rod” is quickly giving way to the far more disparaging moniker “A-Roid” in light of Rodriguez’s name appearing on a list of 104 Major League Baseball players who, according to Sports Illustrated reporter Selena Roberts, allegedly tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003.
In a court of law, Rodriguez will of course remain innocent until proven guilty. However, in a matter of days, that judgment has already largely become the complete opposite in the court of public opinion, which given Rodriguez’s penchant for being overly concerned with his public image, is the thing which might ultimately haunt Rodriguez the most.
The truly disturbing things about the results of Roberts’ investigation, which were backed up by four independent sources, are what Rodriguez’s accomplishments represented for the game of baseball prior to last Saturday’s news breaking, and the further shattering of confidence in the authenticity of the sport since.
In the wake of Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds appearing to have cheated their way to possessing Major League Baseball’s most hallowed records, Rodriguez was the player that was expected to eclipse them all, cleanly and legitimately. Rodriguez, after all, didn’t fit the profile a typical steroid abuser. His head didn’t pumpkinize like that of Bonds. His body didn’t cartoonishly bulk up like McGwire’s or Sosa’s.
Well, as Roberts reported, Rodriguez allegedly took testosterone and Primobolan, the latter of which doesn’t have a hulking effect, which allows for players to retain strength when off of the drug, and which is easier than typical steroids to flush out of one’s system to avoid detection.
Consequently, we’re left with a cynical speculation about nearly every player in the major leagues, even the ones who on the surface, appear to do everything the right way.
If a player like Rodriguez, with probably more natural talent than any other player of his time, seems to have by all reasonable accounts, gained an unfair advantage, it raises the question more than ever before: Who else cheated in the past and who’s cheating now? Rodriguez is the biggest name, but with 103 other players on the same list, that’s 13.9% of 750 active major league players, or on average, roughly 3 or 4 players on each major league roster in 2003. And, those are only the ones we know about.
With the A-Rod domino now the latest superstar icon to fall, would it really shock anyone that much if seemingly squeaky clean, hard-working players like Derek Jeter or David Wright were the next players to be named as charlatans?
By no means is the abuse of performance enhancing drugs limited to baseball. For instance, it would be naïve to think that the NFL is void of any steroid problems, yet Super Bowl XLIII two Sundays ago was the most-watched Super Bowl in history, and the second-most watched program in the history of American television. And really, that’s the heart of the problem.
The saying goes, “When you point a finger at someone else, you point three fingers back at yourself.” That’s not to suggest that the first responsibility doesn’t lie with players like Rodriguez to operate within the rules of the game.
However, for either helping to create or support a culture which has been strongly conducive to fostering Major League Baseball’s unfortunate steroid era, MLB’s commissioner, players, players’ union, owners, general managers, managers, coaches, fans, and the media are all to blame in their own ways.
In our American Idol and You Tube society, we build up celebrities like Rodriguez far more than we should.
With steroids and professional sports, we’ve all turned a blind eye. As a result, Major League Baseball has now suffered its biggest black eye to date, and last Saturday’s news should be the biggest eyeopener for us all.
Though fans are definitely the victims and not the perpetrators in this matter, no sport can exist without them. The issue of cheating in all professional sports will persist as long as fans continue to financially support an unclean game via television viewing and through the purchasing of tickets and merchandise.
After providing his highly publicized report on Major League Baseball and illegal performance enhancing drugs in 2007, former United States senator George Mitchell said “Baseball fans should be shocked into action.”
Perhaps they should, now that cheating has reached the top in the form of baseball’s greatest player, who was once thought to be clean. Such action, even on a limited basis, might just start the chain of events desperately needed to clean up the sport that used to be more closely associated with the ingesting of hot dogs and apple pie over the injecting of steroids.