So, after a couple of days of listening to us all say that the best thing that A-Roid could possibly do at this point was confess, he confessed. I mean, duh. He saw how we received those who did (Giambi and Pettitte) as compared to how we shunned those who didn’t (Palmeiro and Clemens). After all, the only thing we hate more than a cheat, is a liar and a cheat.
A-Rod’s Mea culpa came in the form of a hard-hitting interview by ESPN’s Peter Gammons, a guy who isn’t afraid to ask the easy questions in a nice tone of voice. A-Rod wore blue. To bring out the color of his eyes.
All in all, it was extremely informative. And by informative, I mean wasteful of everyone’s time. Here are some gems from the transcript along with my commentary.
PETER GAMMONS: What kind of substances were you taking?
ALEX RODRIGUEZ: Peter, that's the thing. Again, it was such a loosey-goosey era. I'm guilty for a lot of things. I'm guilty for being negligent, naive, not asking all the right questions. And to be quite honest, I don't know exactly what substance I was guilty of using.
I don’t get this. At all. Why would anyone ever think that it worked in his favor to act as though he didn’t know exactly what he was taking? ( Something I don’t believe for a second, by the way.) I mean, it was the act of knowingly taking any banned substance that put A-Rod on shaky moral ground. If he really didn’t know specifically which ones he was using—well, that just makes us question his intelligence as well as his values.
PETER GAMMONS: Where did you originally get the substance?
ALEX RODRIGUEZ: Again, at the time, you know, you have nutritionists, you have doctors, you have trainers. That's the right question today: Where did you get it? We're in the era of BALCO ... Back then, it was just about what.
That’s funny. Because I thought that back then, and I quote, “I don’t know exactly what substance I was guilty of using.”
There's many things that you can take that are banned substances. I mean, there's things that have been removed from GNC today that would trigger a positive test.
Oh, I see. He pretended not to know “what” in order to trick us into thinking it was something that might have come from GNC. Now I get it.
PETER GAMMONS: You're saying that the time period was 2001, '2 and '3?
ALEX RODRIGUEZ: That's pretty accurate, yes.
“Pretty accurate?” I like that. Open to interpretation. Loosey-goosey, even. Like the steroids era.
PETER GAMMONS: How much of the culture -- how prevalent was this culture in Texas at that time?
ALEX RODRIGUEZ: You know, I've always been a guy that raced my own race. And I don't like to look left, I don't like to look right. You just feel there's an energy. To say only Texas, that wouldn't be fair. But overall, you felt that there was -- I felt a tremendous pressure to play and play really well. I felt like I was going up against the whole world. I just signed this enormous contract. I got unbelievable negative press, for lack of a better term, for [Rangers owner] Tom Hicks and I teaming up together...
So I felt that I needed something, without over-investigating what I was taking, to get me to the next level.
Huh? So he races his own race and isn’t influenced by the people to his right or to his left. But…he IS influenced by the energy. And the negative press. And the culture. Oh, OK. Now I understand.
PETER GAMMONS: How long was it before you found out that what you were doing was actually illegal?
ALEX RODRIGUEZ: Again, at the time of that culture, there was no illegal or legal. It was just -- you have to understand the time. To take you back there, again, people were taking a number of different things, from GNC, to whatever.
Uh, yeah. I’m pretty sure that there was a legal and illegal. And, again, pretty sure that nothing that could be found at GNC made A-Rod fail his pee test.
PETER GAMMONS: Now, you mentioned the Katie Couric interview. You were asked if you ever used steroids, human growth hormones or other performance-enhancing substances. You said no, flat-out no. In your mind, that wasn't a lie?
ALEX RODRIGUEZ: At the time, Peter, I wasn't even being truthful with myself. How am I going to be truthful with Katie or CBS?
Congratulations, A-Rod. Best excuse for lying ever.
PETER GAMMONS: Now, Jose Canseco talked a lot in his books about you. He claimed in his last book that he hooked you up with a guy that was very well acquainted with performance-enhancing drugs here in Miami. Is that true?
ALEX RODRIGUEZ: That couldn't be more false. That's a hundred percent not true.
Or…is this just one of those times when A-Rod’s not being truthful with us because he’s not being truthful with himself?
PETER GAMMONS: You were tested during the WBC [World Baseball Classic] in 2006, is that correct?
ALEX RODRIGUEZ: Correct. I got tested in 2006. And also this year when I go down to Puerto Rico, I'm sure I'll get tested again in 2009.
Prior to Texas, I really had -- at that time in Seattle, I had never even heard of a player taking a substance, a steroid of any kind in my Seattle days. I mean, I know this lady from Sports Illustrated, Selena Roberts, is trying to throw things out there that in high school I tried steroids. I mean, that's the biggest bunch of baloney I've ever heard in my life.
I mean, what makes me upset is that Sports Illustrated pays this lady, Selena Roberts, to stalk me. This lady has been thrown out of my apartment in New York City. This lady has five days ago just been thrown out of the University of Miami police for trespassing. And four days ago she tried to break into my house where my girls are up there sleeping, and got cited by the Miami Beach police. I have the paper here. This lady is coming out with all these allegations, all these lies because she's writing an article for Sports Illustrated and she's coming out with a book in May.
Not only does A-Rod’s rant bear little-to-no relation to the question, but I would say that shooting the messenger is an extremely ill-advised tactic for a man in the middle of an admission of guilt. Leaving aside the fact that everything he says about Selena Roberts is unverified, by accusing his accuser, he sort of kills that whole contrite man in the blue sweater thing he has going.
PETER GAMMONS: Given the opportunity, would you like to go to Major League Baseball and say, "OK, what can I do to help kids across the country?"
ALEX RODRIGUEZ: 100 percent.
Wow. Talk about gotcha journalism.
In case anyone’s interested in what I think A-Rod should have said, it would have been more like, “At the time, I knew what I was doing was wrong, and I knew it was illegal; I did anyway. I have no excuses and no one to blame but myself. Oh, and I lied to Katie Couric. Obviously.”
Do I think the stuff about being young and feeling pressure was probably true? Sure. Do I think you say any of that stuff in an apology? No. I think apologies never involve excuses. And just because someone says, “There are no excuses,” it doesn’t mean we don’t register all the excuses he makes when he makes a bunch of them.
So, all in all, I thought it was pretty weak.
I don’t think that A-Rod is faking the humiliation. I mean, it’s humiliating. And despite what A-Rod said about the race and looking to the right, this is a guy who is deeply invested in public opinion. So I do think that he sincerely feels bad. It’s just that I think he feels bad about the fact that people think bad things about him rather than about his actions. In short, I don’t think he regrets what he did so much as that I think that he regrets that he got busted.
But one thing's for sure; next time I get caught in a lie, I’m totally saying, “At the time, I wasn’t even being truthful with myself. How am I going to be truthful with you?”
Either A-Rod’s more clever than I thought, or he got a hand from the likes of hip hopera artist R. Kelly with that one.