Examining recent history of sports cheating has been interesting to say the least, with Alex Rodriguez taking things to an entirely new level yesterday by not only busting out (literally) of his MLB arbitration meeting, but even going so far as to call his accuser (MLB Commissioner Bud Selig) a “chicken.” Yes, you heard that right — A-Rod is actually taunting the commish!
I listened to Rodriguez’s interview with Mike Francesa (WFAN) yesterday and came away from it very disturbed. Rodriguez tried to come across as though he is the victim here, even though countless sources have already talked about the “mountain of evidence” against A-Rod — not to mention Rodriguez’s own admittance to using PED’s just a few years ago. And while I’m not a lie detecting expert, nothing at all felt real when A-Rod spoke (several times he mentioned his deep concerns around his “legacy,” and even used missing his kid’s birthday as an attempt for sympathy).
The tipping point for me was Rodriguez’s 100% denial of everything — I’m sorry, but usually when two parties are completely opposed on an issue (as is the case with MLB and A-Rod over his drug use and coverup) the truth lies somewhere in the middle. For Rodriguez to claim 100% innocence from all charges just seemed like the wrong response, and one that will only invite more attention, criticism, and scrutiny in the future.
The timeline of sports cheating responses
In the old days when sports cheaters were caught, most took their medicine by admitting to the crime and were eventually reinstated to play again. The baseball steroid era caught legions of players, and most went quietly (although, admittedly, some like Rafael Palmeiro took the ill-advised “stand your ground” approach). In fact, MLB originally thought the public humiliation of being caught would serve as a strong enough deterrent, and for many players this worked.
As players went down week after week, we did witness 2 big stars begin to use the current A-Rod defense — both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens argued against the charges they faced, although neither went so far as to call out the commissioner. In fact, neither player actually denied all charges, as both men allowed for ambiguities to their stories (Bonds admitted to using some kind of creme, and Clemens alluded to thinking he was being injected with B12, not steroids). Rodriguez, however, is seemingly taking the modern-day Lance Armstrong on steroids approach (pun intended) by not only denying everything, but calling out his accusers.
Speaking of his “legacy”
Perhaps the most odd line of the day from Rodriguez yesterday was his deep concerns around his “legacy.” My question is what “legacy” are we talking about? Rodriguez has already admitted to using steroids for the early part of his career, and I would find it beyond shocking to learn that all of these current accusations are really just a super big, tightly woven conspiracy by MLB and others to take him down even though he is innocent. So is his “legacy” that he put up great numbers while cheating for most, if not all of his career?
I suspect Rodriguez will probably end up just like Bonds and Clemens in the end — he has enough resources to lawyer around for years until his case eventually peters out, and the public will long remember him as not only a rampant cheater, but a coward for the ways in which he has handled the charges against him. His “legacy” will only be a legacy in his eyes, as most baseball fans have already written off the bulk of his inflated numbers anyway. A hero for kids to look up to? Hardly. Instead, Rodriguez is an example for parents to point to when discussing the importance of integrity, or lack thereof.