Report a fatal blow to A-Rod's image
A-Rod is done.
Done as in suspended? Done as a New York Yankee? Done as a major leaguer?
The answers to each of those questions might be “yes,” but we don’t know any of that for certain.
When I say, “done,” I’m talking about Alex Rodriguez’s reputation. His attempt to rehabilitate his once-pristine image. And, of course, his chances of making the Hall of Fame.
Rodriguez, 37, first jeopardized all of that in 2009 when he admitted using performance-enhancing drugs in response to a Sports Illustrated report that said he had tested positive six years earlier. But he said then that he only used PEDs in a specific period from ’01 to ’03 — before he joined the Yankees, before baseball enacted steroid testing.
An explosive report in the Miami New Times on Tuesday suggests otherwise, indicating that Rodriguez also used from ’09 — the year the Yankees last won the World Series — through last season.
Rodriguez denies being treated by Anthony Bosch, the owner of Biogenesis, an anti-aging clinic in South Florida. Denies Bosch supplied him with PEDs. Denies the New Times report that puts him — again — at the center of a steroid controversy.
For all anyone knows, maybe A-Rod is telling the truth this time, and all those records that the New Times obtained from a former Biogenesis employee are completely fictitious, delusional scribblings from Bosch or manufactured by a figure as shadowy as Mante Te'o’s girlfriend.
But Rodriguez likely will need to give his side both to baseball and the Drug Enforcement Agency, which received information from baseball’s Department of Investigations about Bosch’s link to A-Rod and other major leaguers, according to the New York Daily News.
The third baseman might not be in imminent legal danger. Baseball might not even gather enough evidence to suspend him. But in the court of public opinion, Rodriguez lost his credibility long ago, to the point where he is starting to look like Lance Armstrong in cleats.
In December 2007, Rodriguez flatly denied using PEDs in an interview with Katie Couric, who then was with CBS’ “60 Minutes.” Just more than a year later, after SI reported that he had tested positive, he lied about not knowing what type of steroid he used to ESPN, and lied when he said that Selena Roberts, the reporter who broke the story, tried to break into his home in Miami.
At a subsequent news conference in Tampa, Rodriguez offered greater detail on his steroid use, relating the ’01-to-’03 time frame. But at this point, who’s to say he wasn’t also using before ’01? Who knows what to believe?
“Progressively, the stories have been different,” WFAN’s Sweeny Murti said to A-Rod at the news conference in ’09. “What assurances can you give us that everything you’re saying today is the whole truth and there is not going to be something more that's going to come out that you're going to have to answer for several months or years from now?”
Prescient question, as it turned out. And here was Rodriguez’s answer:
“Look, I may have to answer them for the rest of my career,” Rodriguez said. “I mean, that's the position I've put myself in.
“... I thought since I didn't hear about it for five years, that there was a chance it was OK. ... Um, there was a lot of that stuff going on, and I'm here to say my story and this is it.”
We’re about to find out.
Rodriguez’s name appeared in various forms 16 times in the records obtained by the Miami New Times. The records showed that he received from Bosch at least three substances that are banned by baseball — human growth hormone (HGH), synthetic testosterone and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). A-Rod’s cousin, Yuri Sucart, also is cited for purchasing HGH — and Sucart was the person whom the player identified as the source of his PEDs in ’09.
The published information does not prove that Rodriguez received the substances, much less used them. But it is more specific than the information that the New Times obtained on some of the other players in its report, most notably Washington Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez and Texas Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz.
The New Times said that six other clients of Bosch’s confirmed the accuracy of his records as it pertained to them.
“Bosch’s personal notebooks also check out in every other respect,” the publication said. “Scrawled numbers to diagnostic clinics reach diagnostic clinics. Details about Bosch’s family life, business practices and debts match public records.”
Whether baseball and/or the DEA can confirm any of this remains to be seen. But Rodriguez’s future was in serious question even before the New Times report. He recently had surgery on his left hip, nearly four years after requiring surgery on his right hip. Last Friday, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said there was no guarantee that Rodriguez would play this season.
The Yankees owe Rodriguez $114 million over the next five years, and heaven knows they would love to escape that contract. Perhaps the injuries will prevent Rodriguez from ever playing again, at which point the Yankees could collect insurance — at least 70 percent once he misses an entire season, sources say.
In theory, an insurance company could sue Rodriguez and/or the Yankees, contending that Rodriguez’s use of PEDs contributed to his physical breakdown. In reality, such a thing would be virtually impossible to prove.
All of that, though, is just details.
A-Rod can respond to every attack, survive every legal challenge, attempt to restore his legacy once more. But this time, only his most fervent supporters will grant him the benefit of the doubt. And how many of those supporters are even left?
He’s not coming back from this.