Really, nobody should be shocked or even mildly surprised that Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids. The first hint that he might have been taking some performance-enhancing drug should have been his body. An even more obvious clue was his non-denial after being implicated by Jose Canseco in Vindicated, his follow-up to the tell-all book Juiced.
Why didn’t anybody take that accusation seriously? Maybe because people don’t like Canseco, which is a lame excuse, and couldn’t stand that he was peddling another book. At the same time he fingered Rodriguez, Canseco also revealed that A-Rod hit on Jose's blonde wife. That bit of salacious dirt probably caused a lot of people to roll their eyes even though it’s pretty obvious that A-Rod likes blondes.
Another possible reason people didn’t want to believe Canseco was because he backed off on his accusations of Roger Clemens. Also, A-Rod had denied he ever used steroids during a 60 Minutes interview in December 2007.
So why didn’t he issue another denial a few months later when Canseco’s book came out? A-Rod knew he could lie to Katie Couric and get away with it, but he wasn’t about to call a person who had the goods on him a rat-fink liar.
Nobody should be bashing Canseco for his effort to shed light on baseball's steroids problem. Yes, his main motivation was to make money and he's benefited financially by selling books. But the more names that come out, the more people are taking Canseco seriously.
Despite the Canseco accusation, there are those in baseball that did not think Rodriguez fit the mold of a steroid user. I spoke to a long-time baseball scout today who said Rodriguez was never suspected by the scouting fraternity.
"Alex hit the ball just as hard as he did earlier [in his career]," the scout said. "He had the type of body that's big and very athletic and muscular, and I think during the normal course of things he just added some weight. That's the way I saw Alex. He was still running well, he was still stealing bases and his arm was good, sometimes maybe a little erratic. But I didn't see any definite signs [of steroid use] that I'd seen in other guys, if you will. I've seen their shape change dramatically. But looking at Alex over the years, I just got the feeling that this is the same guy that just got a little bigger and stronger in the natural course [of time]. I never got that inkling. I didn't see any definite signs like a Ruben Sierra or a Canseco or [Mark] McGwire or some of the other guys that I saw. Even like a Pudge Rodriguez. He was big and then he looked like [Craig] Biggio one year in spring training because he lost so much weight, like he got off it. And then his power wasn't as consistent as it used to be."
The scouts might have missed it, but Canseco didn't. Would baseball have been better off if Canseco never wrote a book and Commissioner Bud Selig kept his head buried in the sand? Sure, if you don’t mind the record books being assaulted by artificially-enhanced players. In my book, 755 and 61 are still records.