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Six Lingering Questions In the A-Rod Matter

1. How is Rodriguez going to respond? I see three realistic choices:
a) The "legal matter" no-comment. ("Because this matter is the subject of an ongoing legal process, I have been advised not to comment on it. I hope one day soon to be able to give my side of the story.")
b) The half-hearted apology. ("I cannot explain how these substances got into my system, but I assure you I never knowingly took steroids. I was a heavy user of legal supplements earlier in my career, and it is possible I inadvertently ingested something that may have triggered a positive test. However, I also understand I am ultimately responsible for anything that goes into my body, and thus I take full responsibility and apologize to the New York Yankees, the Texas Rangers, Major League Baseball and my fans for this embarrassing incident and the distractions it has caused.")
c) The "one-time mistake"/martyr explanation. ("During the 2003 season, while battling various nagging injuries that I feared would force me to the disabled list, I used an illegal substance. My motivation was simple: I wanted to stay on the field for the sake of my team and my teammates. I want to stress I did this only once, and I immediately regretted it. I apologize to [see above].")

2. Does it even matter in the big picture? I think the answer to this is no. He is in no legal jeopardy. His legacy, given the patterns of Hall of Fame voting for steroids-stained players, is probably beyond repair. None of that is likely to change based on what he says. The only thing that could be affected is the way Rodriguez is treated by fans, both at home and on the road. A heartfelt apology could help him in that regard.

3. Why were the 2003 survey testing results not destroyed? Here is the relevant clause, straight out of the 2003-2006 collective bargaining agreement: "At the conclusion of any Survey Test, and after the results of all tests have been calculated, all test results, including any identifying characteristics, will be destroyed in a process jointly supervised by the Office of the Commissioner and the [Players'] Association." There are at least 104 people, including Rodriguez, who deserve an answer.

4. Who leaked, and will the judge go after them? Remember, the longest prison sentence in the entire BALCO case was not for Victor Conte or Greg Anderson. It was the 30-month sentence handed to Troy Ellerman, the former Conte attorney who leaked grand jury testimony to the San Francisco Chronicle.

5. Does Sports Illustrated have the other 103 names? Just because the two reporters who broke the Rodriguez story mentioned only him doesn't mean they don't have the entire list. In this highly competitive media environment, in order to maximize the impact of your scoop, you'd want to drop the biggest name first, and hold back the rest until a later date when the impact would be greatest.

6. Is Roger Clemens on that list? Given his perilous legal situation, he had better hope not.

By Dave Sheinin  |  February 9, 2009; 8:35 AM ET
 
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Comments

One more question for you to add to your list:

Did Selig know about A-rod's confidential test? This is extremely relevant because he held up A-rod as the next superstar who can challenge the home run record and restore legitimacy.

Posted by: GoNatsTerps | February 9, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

@GoNatsTerps: Excellent point. And while we're at it, here's another: What will be the fallout of the Gene Orza revelations on the MLB/union relationship?

I spoke to one MLB official Saturday who was more livid over the fact Orza allegedly tipped off a player than about the A-Rod revelation itself. I'm sure MLB feels betrayed that its supposed partner in the drug testing program was secretly undermining it.

Posted by: Dave Sheinin | February 9, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

"The only thing that could be affected is the way Rodriguez is treated by fans, both at home and on the road. A heartfelt apology could help him in that regard."

Who cares? The guy gets mercilessly booed at home because he's not Derek Jeter (he's just much, much better), was willing to switch positions and plays dang near every day. He's also ridiculed on the road for his "inability to come through in the clutch" and the jealousy opposing fans have for him.

What I'm saying is, how much worse could it get? Fans will forgive him the steroid transgressions as soon as he gets a game winning hit. They'll hate him for everything else for the rest of his career.

Posted by: adampschroeder | February 9, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Question #7: Will Bud Selig take any disciplinary action for the tipping charge? Tipping players off undermines the credibility of the testing system and, thus, Selig's (supposed) desire to keep the game clean. While Orza might be out of reach...because he doesn't work for MLB...A-Rod could be disciplined for not disclosing that he had been tipped off.

Posted by: AshburnVA | February 9, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

If the Sports Illustrated reporters do have the other 103 names, then I doubt Clemens or Bonds are on the list. I don't see how they would hold back on either one.

Posted by: Freedog | February 9, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

I can see SI holding back. Bonds and Clemens are old news. A-Rod, on the other hand, has never been linked to PEDs. They can get the biggest bang for their buck by dropping his name first.

Then they can go back to that cash cow after the A-Rod news is cold. So they could essentially make money twice - or maybe even three times - out of the same news source.

If they threw out Clemens and Bonds along with A-Rod, they'd essentially be throwing money away.

Posted by: JohninMpls | February 9, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

What about Palmeiro and his March '05 testimony? If Palmeiro is among the 103, he would be open for prosecution. I just google searched that his lawyers said he did not fail a 2003 and 2004 test, but could they have left out the "survey"?

Posted by: dclifer | February 9, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I'm a big time basketball/football fan. I used to love baseball. I played it as a kid and I'll teach my kids how to play as well. I remember back in 1993, I saw Nolan Ryan's final game at Oriole Park. That was the last time I went to a baseball game. Remember when players didn't juice? The game was so good then. Now homerun, RBI, hits, batting % numbers don't mean s&^t.

Bud and all the baseball owners know now and have always known that players take steroids. After the 1994 strike fans were upset and revenues were terrible. Once Sosa and McGwire had that magical summer of 1998, baseball was back. With the help of steroids, fans filled the ballparks again. I see all the heated comments and some who say who cares. Steroids make you a better ball player, anyone who watches baseball should care.

The sad part about all this is the players will be ripped, rightfully so. But you know who'll get a pass, Bud and all the owners. If they had real steroid testing going on in the beginning of the 90's and there were real punishments for the abusers, none of this would have happened. Oh well another baseball season and we get to watch more juiced up players knocking homeruns out the park and behind the scenes help make there greedy club owners a s*&t load of money.

Posted by: wizfan81 | February 9, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Wizfan -- What makes you think Nolan Ryan was clean? The guy pitched HEAT well into his 40's in an era when players faded out more than a decade earlier. He has declined to discuss the topic of steriod use in baseball on many occasions. He played for teams with some of the same players that have admitted rampant use. He played with Incaviglia, Julio Franco, Rafi, Kevin Brown, Ken Caminitti and Juan Gonzalez among other reported users. I am not trying to pick on Ryan here, but the fact is that more star players than not were using for a period of about 10-12 years. The stuff was barely illegal, if at all, not against any rule of the game and the players did not think it taboo to be getting an edge with roids or speed. Hence they wrote personal checks to Kurt Radomski to buy the sutff and had it delivered to their homes. Very little about the stuff was dirty back in the day until records started falling and we all looked back and decided that it really was.

Posted by: dfh123 | February 9, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Dave, do you give A-Rod credit for not going with any of your three realistic choices? He came closest to the Andy Petitte like number 3, but in fact he admitted to taking steriods for three years to help his performance.

Posted by: spidey103 | February 9, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

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