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I Want To Believe A-Rod, But....

.... I just don't.

On a surface level, Alex Rodriguez came off looking very good today. He was less evasive than in the ESPN interview. He offered the details that everyone craved. He made a big show (a 37-second pregnant pause) of conveying his appreciation for his teammates.

But there were also trip-ups, inconsistencies and phrases that sounded suspiciously like a crisis manager's talking points. (In fact, he reportedly had a crisis manager sitting nearby.) And at a fundamental level, Rodriguez is still leaning on the same naivety defense that he trotted out (less adroitly) in the ESPN interview. Here were a few specific things that bothered me:

1) He claimed the drugs he used gave him an "energy boost" but were otherwise harmless. (Later, he said, "I'm not sure what the benefit was.") But the drugs for which he allegedly tested positive -- testosteron and Primobolan -- are anabolic steroids that users typically "stack" in order to build lean muscle mass. Somewhere, there is a disconnect that still begs to be explained.

2) He kept returning to the theme of how young he was during the years he took the drugs, saying he was only "23, 24 years old." But in fact, he turned 26 during the 2001 season, 27 during 2002, and 28 during 2003. Not exactly a kid.

3) I keep coming back to this thought: If I were backed into a corner and had to come up with a story as to how I had acquired some steroids, I would come up with a close friend, or perhaps a cousin, who lived in a foreign country where said steroids might actually be legally available over the counter. And then I wouldn't name that person. And I would say I didn't know exactly what the drugs were, but knew them only by a street name, "bole."

To be clear: I'm not saying Rodriguez invented his story. But if he were to invent one, this one would be perfect.

By Dave Sheinin  |  February 17, 2009; 4:52 PM ET
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Next: Report: Top Nats Prospect Lied About Age


Maybe he should have used a teleprompter so that he didn't have to keep looking down to read from the script. I was talking back to the screen at one point as he responded to questions. Here it comes again: "I was young and naive, yada yada yada."

It was interesting that he appeared to be overcome by emotion when addressing his teammates, but not when responding to the question about what to say to kids about steroids.

Why mention the cousin at all if he's going to maintain that the cousin's identity is irrelevant?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 17, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

He mentioned who gave him the stuff because people were hammering him for the last week about how he got the drugs.

While this incident hasn't done anything to hurt my love for the game, it does suck that two of the greatest players to ever play the game were sucked into the steroid wasteland because they didn't feel what they had was enough.

I believe Barry started doing steroids because he saw the love McGwire and Sosa were getting and realized that even though he was better than them in almost every aspect of the game, it was like the Glavine/Maddux commercial: "Chicks dig the long ball."

I think Alex Rodriguez got sucked into the same thing. He saw all the good players beginning to get really good and start approaching his numbers and he decided to take what they were taking to maintain the distance between himself and them.

Does that make what any of them did right? No, of course not. But it was definitely a culture and if you don't think peer pressure had anything to do with this you're lying to yourself.

If I told you that you could make 15 million dollars if you injected yourself with something that if taken for a short enough period wouldn't hurt you much, and other people were doing it and it didn't look like it hurt them, would you do it?

You probably would, eventually.

Posted by: adampschroeder | February 17, 2009 10:31 PM | Report abuse

I think its time for all 104 names to aired. It's nice to focus on the "evils" of Bonds and A-Fraud, but with all the names we can really tell how prevalent and wide-spread steroids really were, and universally accepted.

Unmentioned, of course, are the (I believe) the White Sox, who reports at the time said wanted testing and intentionally took measures to test positive. Thank goodness they overcame the blatant attempts by Players Union reps to prevent testing by broadcasting test times!

Posted by: VladiHondo | February 17, 2009 10:40 PM | Report abuse

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