Superstar A-Rod, athlete disappointment

David Taintor

In case you haven’t heard, Alex Rodriguez, arguably already one of the best baseball players of all-time, has admitted to taking performing-enhancing drugs.

There has been many heated debates on ESPN, local radio and even amongst our Spectator staff.

This is one the worst things that has happened in baseball in decades.

I was shocked and depressed to learn that A-Rod, one of my all-time favorites, admitted to usage.

To have one of its biggest superstars, who was supposed to be the “clean guy” in the home-run era, admitting to taking drugs is absolutely devastating to the already shaky state of baseball.

In this state of baseball, some players can be seen on the field just as much as in the courtroom. The Federal Government has become extensively involved in steroid issues, which is truly sad.

A congressional committee produced the Mitchell Report about the state of baseball and steroids, and along the way players lied to Congress, denied involvement and have been proven guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs through testing or confession.

The Sports Illustrated article that came out last week said it had more than 100 players who tested positive in 2003 for performing-enhancing drugs, wasn’t all that shocking, but at least one of the names was.

That survey test was implemented to see if it was necessary to impose random testing in the majors in 2004.

Necessary would have been an understatement.

A-Rod’s confession, along with a former Packers’ quarterback announcing his retirement, clouded the news of another star getting into trouble last week.

Miguel Tejada, a former MVP, admitted in federal court he withheld information to authorities regarding a teammate’s use of steroids in 2005.

Tejada himself bought HGH during his tenure with the athletics but said he threw it away before using it. Tejada, the first player to be convicted of something by Congress in the steroid era, was a mere blip on the radar last week.

Baseball players taking steroids may be as common as Brett Favre’s retirements, but isn’t that the problem? It shouldn’t be a common occurrence and penalties need to be harsher. But I digress from the main issue of last week.

For whatever reason, the media, fans and others gave A-Rod the benefit of the doubt regarding drug issues.

He was never mentioned in the same breath, except for his mind-boggling numbers, with Bonds, Sosa, McGwire or Palmeiro. Maybe this was because he started his first major league game at the age of 18.

Maybe it was because he switched positions when he joined the Yankees, allowing him to build more bulk.

Maybe it was because he is a stand-up guy and has stayed out of trouble.

No one I knew believed A-Rod belonged on the “possible user” list.

When Jose Canseco said in 2008 he had introduced A-Rod to steroid distributors and hinted A-Rod may have used performance enhancing drugs, did anyone believe him? Heck no. Who knew Canseco would have been right about the majority of his statements.

Some say A-Rod is still the best player in baseball. I would tend to agree with that because of the sheer natural talent and numbers he put up before and after the years of 2001 to 2003.

In those three years, A-Rod had some of his biggest career numbers: he had three of his five highest home run totals (57, 52 and 47; 57 being a career high) and had his second and third highest RBI totals as well (135 and 142). But he has remained consistent enough, unlike a player like Sosa, to still be in the Hall of Fame conversation.

But that is exactly the point and why this is such a big deal, because A-Rod is no ordinary ballplayer.

This would be the equivalent of a LeBron James or Peyton Manning confessing to usage. It’s huge. It’s monumental. A-Rod is still young and is the face of Major League Baseball.

As other superstars such as Sosa, Bonds and McGwire have fallen from stardom, A-Rod filled the void as the “clean player.” But that title is gone now.

I respect A-Rod for admitting he used performance-enhancing drugs and not pulling a Clemens or Bonds, drawing out what seems to be a never-ending federal court process.

However, I lost tremendous respect for him because he lied about using these types of drugs.

Back in 2007, A-Rod went on national television (60 Minutes) and told viewers, fans and Katie Couric herself that he had never used any type of performance-enhancing drug.

Did anyone question A-Rod after that interview? Anyone was crazy to say he was a user. About two years later, however, we have found out otherwise.

A-Rod is 13th in all-time homers, with 553, and 31st all-time in RBI’s. And by the way, he is only 33 years old.

If I were a betting man, (which I am not because I bet on A-Rod being clean), I would say he will break both of these records. But the news of last week will follow him the rest of his career and into the Hall of Fame, if sportswriters can find a way to forgive him.

We may not have a “clean” player break Hank Aaron’s record. One guy has a shot in my generation. Good luck, Albert Pujols.

And no, we probably won’t react as harshly towards those 100 names as we are to A-Rod. But this is precisely the point.

A-Rod is the first true superstar and future hall of famer to admit he used illegal drugs.

Last week was truly a very, very dark time for baseball.

Anderson is a senior print journalism major and news editor for The Spectator.