Monday, February 9, 2009

A-Really, Really Sorry He Got Caught

It was revealed last week that in 2003 Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids. Then hundreds of people who obviously had never done anything wrong in their lives ostracized him. My first reaction was "Huh, that's surprising" quickly followed by "Boy, it's really easy to turn A-Rod into A-Roid."

A-Rod's a great player, he was a great player, and it's likely he'll continue to be a great player for the foreseeable future. He cheated, and so did a whole lot of other people. Rodriguez learned his lesson from some of the others that where caught and admitted he did it and that it was wrong (which should make his life ever so slightly easier). I haven't liked him personally for a while (which was cemented when he slapped the ball out of the fielder's glove on his way to first-base a couple years ago) so this news doesn't change my opinion of him at all.

The worst thing about this revelation is that it gives even more credibility to the things Jose Canseco said. I really don't like it that Jose Canseco is the most credible source of knowledge on a subject - it messes with me sensibilities.

You know who's probably enjoying this news? Barry Bonds. A-Rod was supposed to be the "clean" HR champ once he passed Bonds' record, but now that won't be the case. Plus, if A-Rod comes in second then there will be no "Well, A-Rod's the real home run champion." It's also going to be a lot harder to keep Rodriguez out of the Hall of Fame, which should benefit Bonds, McGwire, Palmeiro, and all the rest.

And what happens if Sammy Sosa's name isn't on that list? Does that make his case for the Hall all that much more credible? At some point we'll just need to accept that steroids where a huge part of the game for a number of years. Sabermetricians understand the importance of putting stats into context, so their adjustment should be a whole lot easier than the sports writers, who just lost a bunch of "hero" story angles.

Round-up of other opinions:

From Shysterball:
* "It was always silly to play the "this guy was juicing, this guy was not" game, but now it is downright absurd, because anyone who comes out now and says that they thought A-Rod was doing steroids is lying. Well, except for Jose Canseco, who I once again must note has a better track record for accuracy on this subject than anyone. How nice it would have been if he wasn't such a scumbag with respect to everything else."

Nice to see the weird Canseco-is-honest thing noted by someone else. My level of disbelief went way down after Rafael Palmeiro tested positive - that was truly shocking, and dulled every subsequent blow.
* "Because the more players who are found to have used PEDs, the less accurate it is to say that anyone had an unfair advantage. Sure, on a matchup-by-matchup basis there were users facing non-users, but the caricature of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens -- juiced up monsters cheating their way across a league of innocents -- grows more ridiculous as each new name surfaces. Many, many ballplayers have used PEDs in recent years. So many, I'd guess, that at some point a blanket presumption of PED use -- as long as it's not accompanied by a blackballing and an excess of moralizing -- should be in order for the players of our age."

Plus, I'm still not convinced that steroids do all that much to help.

From Joe Posnanski via SI:
* "Isn't it interesting that three players who have hit 40-40 are Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds and A-Rod? Alfonso Soriano is the fourth. That's a tough room right now."

In fairness to Soriano, I actually completely forgot that he got to 40-40. I do remember Vlad Guerrero just missing the mark (39-40, I think it was) - he might be slightly less displeased by that now.

Poz's SI co-worker Jon Heyman:
* "Those test results were supposed to have been destroyed, expunged, wiped away. And they would have been obliterated, had the union not kept them around for no good reason...

That steroid survey list from 2003 was supposed to be anonymous, nameless and faceless. And the list of 104 player failures was supposed to be destroyed immediately after it was tallied up. That was the plan...

That list would have been long gone if not for the union; according to three baseball sources familiar with the testing process, players union COO Gene Orza worked long and hard to try to pare down the list. Orza's mission, SI's sources say, was to find enough false positives on the list to drive the number of failures so far down that real testing wouldn't be needed in 2004 or ever."

There are 104 people very unhappy with Orza right now, and 103 of them are just waiting for the other shoe to drop. It might be in the players best interest to have all of the names released at once, but that probably won't happen. In any case, the Union - which is supposed to protect the players - ended up screwing them over.

Some people care, some people don't. Some people think it's good for the game to get this out there, others appose the idea. I'm just waiting for pitchers and catchers to report.

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