Alex Rodriguez recently admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs, dealing another blow to the integrity of Major League Baseball.
So, why does everyone think that another baseball player's admission of drug use is such a bad thing? It's not. Don't you know what this means? It's time to celebrate! Jose Canseco just started another tell-all book, chronicling his amazing ability to witness drug usage. The book, titled Juiced Deuced, should be out by Tuesday, and is available in paperback, hardback, and in powder or pill form.
But seriously, let's give Rodriguez credit for owning up to the use of a banned substance, even if he "owned up" only after Sports Illustrated reported that a 2003 A-Rod sample had tested positive for a drug called Primabolan and testosterone. While so many baseball players in the past seem intent on denying any wrongdoing to their graves, it's refreshing to see one of the biggest stars in the game admit culpability, albeit with one hand on the Bible, and the other in the cookie jar. Coming "clean" has never been so dirty.
Finally, it appears that Major League Baseball stars are learning their lessons about taking performance-enhancing drugs. Unfortunately, the lesson they are learning is not that they shouldn't take them, but that they should admit to it, but only after they are caught. So A-Rod chose the route of giving us "guilty pleas," as opposed to Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, who said nothing other than "Guilty? Please?" It's a lesson Bonds and Clemens failed to digest, so let's give A-Rod a "B-" for "effort" and an "HGH" for "honesty."
Rodriguez subsequently elaborated on his drug indiscretions, revealing that he and a cousin, Yuri Sucart, obtained "Boli," another term for Primabolan, and used it in the Dominican Republic from 2001 to 2003. Rodriguez was in his early 20s at the time and blamed his poor judgment on "immaturity," "stupidity," "curiosity," and "irresponsibility." Nice try, A-Rod, but that's such a common defense. How many of us haven't used those words to defend our own actions with a cousin?
And really, can you claim ignorance in such a matter as this, injecting yourself and others with needles? No one sticks a needle into their body without knowing, or, at the very least, thinking, that some benefit will derive from it. A-Rod's former girlfriend, Madonna, has been with hundreds of men of numerous nationalities, but I find it hard to believe that even she would be as reckless in allowing foreign objects into her body.
Rodriguez could not say for sure what benefits he expected from taking "Boli," or whether he observed any physical changes, but he did point out that he noticed a vast improvement to his selective memory.
Rodriguez has also been linked to Angel Presinal, a personal trainer who has been banned from MLB clubhouses since October 2001. Among other things, Presinal and former slugger Juan Gonzalez were linked to a bag full of steroids found in a Toronto airport in 2001. Presinal told police the bag was Gonzalez's; Gonzalez told police it was Presinal's. The cops never got to the bottom of the incident. However, one clever department employee spliced together video of Gonzalez's and Presinal's questionings, which became a YouTube sensation, as well as a hilarious homage to Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First?" routine. Anyway, as any good baseballer doing banned substances can attest, it's never a good idea to be linked to a person whose last name sounds like a banned substance, and "Presinal" sounds like something that would have caused a "Panic at the BALCO." Rodriguez was wise enough, however, to answer "no" when asked if he had ever "done Presinal."
And what happens when you put A-Rod's cousin and Presinal together? More bad news for Rodriguez. Presinal and Sucart roomed together as they accompanied Rodriguez throughout the 2007 MLB season, spending their time together stuffing goody bags, playing 'Pin the Syringe on the Yankee,' and pitching their idea for a hilarious sitcom, "The Rod Couple," to various networks. Under the guise as Rodriguez's "personal trainers," Sucart and Presinal were essentially A-Rod's "mules," toting duffle bags of banned substances city to city, while A-Rod reaped the benefits.
Rodriguez was just one of several names in the Mitchell Report, which identified players who were alleged to have used steroids or drugs. So expect other players to follow Rodriguez's lead and admit their own drug history with puppy-dog eyes and tears of clowns. Hey, baseball players don't like making outs, nor do they like being "outed." Heck, once we know all those names in the Mitchell Report, we can play the "Six Degrees of Separation Games." Inevitably, you can take any name in that report and it will lead to Bonds, or Clemens, or Mark McGwire, or Carrot Top, or Vince McMahon. And I doubt you'll need six degrees to do so.
So, for Rodriguez, does one "admission" negate another "admission?" In other words, will Rodriguez's admission of drug use keep him from being admitted into baseball's Hall of Fame? His statistics will forever be tainted, but maybe A-Rod's apparent sincere apology may be the catalyst that leads to changes the game of baseball needs to repair its integrity. Mind you, the change to which I'm referring is not more stringent drug testing, but the widespread use of asterisks, not just in the record books, but in box scores, as well.
But why stop there with the asterisks? For those players who have admitted drug use, or lied before Congress, or perjured themselves in front of a grand jury, or denied drug use when all else sharply points to their guilt, or else been caught with their pants down and a needle in, I say give them their bronze busts in the Hall of Fame, but engrave an asterisk on their cap where their team's emblem should be. And if you want to give visitors to the Hall an interactive experience, offer a free urine sample kiosk right there in the Asterisk Wing. And a lie detector test. And unlimited heckling. And a fantasy batting cage, where lazy pop flies miraculously become home runs.
Rodriguez, in his press conference, asked that he be judged "from this day forward." We can do our part, but can he? It doesn't look so. Just this week, Rodriguez was seen leaving a spring training game in a vehicle driven by Sucart. So much for distancing himself from the person who helped get him into this mess in the first place. In that game, A-Rod was booed and cheered. There was little, if any, middle ground. As fans, we need to embrace that middle ground. Don't cheer. Don't boo. Don't care. Let our silence let these players know that we know.