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Wednesday, October 4, 2023


A-Rod makes smart choice

Give Alex Rodriguez credit for being smart enough to see the writing on the wall and wasting little time in making the right decision after reports of his testing positive for steroids six years ago surfaced Saturday.

The right decision was to tell the truth, which the New York Yankees slugger did with Monday’s admission to ESPN’s Peter Gammons that he took performance-enhancing drugs while playing for the Texas Rangers from 2001-03. Of course, it would have been better if he had owned up when the report surfaced, but it’s understandable that he needed a little time to review his options.

Rodriguez, who also apologized to Rangers fans, surely knew it would have been foolish to continue denying allegations that he used steroids. If he needed any more proof, all he had to do was conduct a Google search and include either ‘Roger Clemens,’ ‘Barry Bonds’ or ‘Mark McGwire’ and ‘steroids’ in the search terms.

Rodriguez also could simply have asked teammate Andy Pettitte for some advice. After all, Pettitte, who was implicated for steroid use in the Mitchell Report in December 2007, came clean right before last season’s spring training and was less vilified for doing so.

Or Rodriguez could have asked former teammate Jason Giambi, who was put in an awkward situation after San Francisco Chronicle reporters revealed in December 2004 that he had told a grand jury a year earlier he had used steroids.

Under threat of punishment from Major League Baseball, Giambi agreed to cooperate with George Mitchell, who orchestrated the Mitchell Report.

Both Giambi and Pettitte have managed to move on with their respective careers without facing further condemnation. But Clemens, Bonds and McGwire have continued to deny the allegations of steroid use and have paid for it.

Rodriguez had two options: come clean and try to cut his losses in the court of public opinion or continue to deny the allegations, thus setting himself up to be heavily scrutinized until the day he retires.

He made the right call.

Bitter truth

The apology doesn’t make Rodriguez a saint or excuse what he did. He cheated and was caught, and will be forever linked to a group of superstars whose legacies are tarnished by cheating.’

Rodriguez, who has 553 career homers, won’t be punished by MLB, but will have to face plenty of heat from the public. But he won’t have it as bad as Clemens, Bonds, McGwire.

‘ Clemens, who has 354 career wins, is out of baseball, involved in a brutal defamation lawsuit against former trainer Brian McNamee and in danger of being indicted on federal charges of perjury. Bonds, baseball’s all-time home run king with 762 bombs, is also out of baseball and fighting perjury charges stemming from his testimony about alleged steroid use.

McGwire, who has 583 career homers, is retired, but has been shut out of the Hall of Fame for three consecutive years.

Rodriguez, however, stands to save some face by taking the road less traveled. Public opinion and the media will probably be divided on this issue. Some will rip him to pieces, while others might be willing to somewhat forgive him for admitting the truth.

It remains unlikely however, that Clemens, Bonds and McGwire will have much public or media support in their corner.

An example for others

Rodriguez’s admission somewhat underscores the Mitchell Report, which clearly did not implicate all the stars associated with baseball’s steroid problem.

Whenever these offenders are brought to the light, they will face the same options as Rodriguez: confess everything or deny every allegation. The first option could work to their advantage, while the second would definitely put them on the public’s bad side.

Rodriguez could have easily entered another plea of not guilty, but he made the right call by taking a ‘public’ plea bargain instead.

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