Hurricane A-Rod blows into Tampa this morning, bringing with it swarms of media, howls of protest and, one can only hope, winds of change. But if Alex Rodriguez's press conference on his first day at Yankees camp is to have the intended effect that he and baseball fans everywhere are hoping it does -- that is, if it is to finally give everyone a reason to turn the page and begin focusing, as best as can be expected, on the games he'll play and not the controversy he's currently trapped by -- then it would be wise for the roughly 200 assembled media members to ask, and A-Rod to answer, with complete honesty, the following questions that were not asked or were not sufficiently answered during his ESPN interview:
1. How can you not be sure what substances you used?
A-Rod has claimed he didn't know what he was putting into his body, always a skeptical claim when the money-making machine that is a professional athlete's body is involved.
2. Where did you get the substance?
A-Rod dodged this question during his ESPN interview, but it is related to the question above. Are we really to believe that A-Rod not only doesn't know what unusual substances are in his body but he also doesn't know where they came from? That's a little hard to believe, and if it's true, he'll have to provide a more compelling answer than he offered to ESPN's Peter Gammons last week.
3. Did you ever take a banned substance before or after your time with the Rangers?
A-Rod says it was "pretty accurate" that he only took a banned substance from 2001-03, but also says he started using because of the pressure to live up to the contract he signed with the Rangers. Yet that answer alone begs a bevy of questions: Wasn't there pressure to perform in the minor leagues as the No. 1 pick in the country? Wasn't there pressure to perform once you got to the majors, before you had signed that contract? Wasn't there equally (if not more) intense pressure once you came to the Yankees and, again, when you signed your second nine-figure contract? It isn't so much that A-Rod's reasoning behind his drug use can't be trusted; it's that it can't be trusted completely. If his usage was indeed limited to his time in Texas, he would be smart to make it clear as best he can that he never used before or after that period by being as truthful as possible. After all, the steroid culture in baseball that he claims to have gotten swept up in did not begin when A-Rod got to Texas and it didn't end when he left, either.
4. How did you take the drugs?
It's been reported that Primobolan, which A-Rod tested positive for, according to SI's original report, can be taken both orally or through an injection. The manner in which it's taken supposedly affects the amount of time the steroid stays in your body to trigger a positive test, even as the positive effects of the drug last much longer. Knowing how he took that drug could help answer the question of whether he knew what he was taking was illegal and also where he got it, since Primobolan, according to The New York Times, is a black market drug that is illegal to sell in the U.S.
5. Who else knows of your steroid use?
Rodriguez flatly denied talking to anyone about his drug use, but just because he didn't talk to anyone about it doesn't mean there aren't people who know about it. If he's the only one who knows about it, that would mean he knows where the drugs came from, and how he took them. The much more plausible scenario, and the one that would jibe with the rest of what he's said, is that other people at least knew he had taken an illegal substance because, supposedly, they gave it to him. Among the lessons learned from the Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds scandals is the bigger the group of people who have dirt on you, the more likely it is they'll reveal it to either do you harm or protect themselves. Don't give anyone a chance to use information against you down the road. The more denials he offers, the more difficult it will be for the story to go away.
6. Will you apologize publicly to Selena Roberts?
Rodriguez reportedly called Roberts -- the SI senior writer who (along with David Epstein) broke the story of his positive test -- to offer an apology for the baseless criticisms he offered in his ESPN interview. Although many fans see a public apology as unnecessary, doing so would give him another opportunity to take the high road and begin restoring in full his credibility with the press and the fans.