Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dissecting the ARod transcript, pt I

I listened to the Gammons/ARod interview on the way home. I also watched it again at the gym and again at home afterwards. I have debated what I should do here, in this forum. Repeat what I have said earlier? Get derivative on what the beat writers have to say? Say nothing more and look for other baseball stories? Tear into the transcript and see what happens?

Click here for the transcript on ESPN.

Here are my thoughts following each Q&A:

PETER GAMMONS: Alex, this weekend Sports Illustrated reported that in 2003 you tested positive for testosterone, an anabolic steroid known as Primobolan. What is the truth?

ALEX RODRIGUEZ: When I arrived in Texas in 2001, I felt an enormous amount of pressure. I felt like I had all the weight of the world on top of me, and I needed to perform, and perform at a high level every day.

Back then, it was a different culture. It was very loose. I was young. I was stupid. I was naive. And I wanted to prove to everyone that, you know, I was worth being one of the greatest players of all time. And I did take a banned substance. You know, for that I'm very sorry and deeply regretful.

... The culture back then, and Major League Baseball overall, was very -- I just feel
that, you know, I'm just sorry. I'm sorry for that time. I'm sorry to my fans. I'm sorry for my fans in Texas. It wasn't until then that I ever thought about a substance of any kind, and since then, I've proved to myself and to everyone that I don't need any of that.
I think this lead-off answer is, for the most part, a true statement by ARod. Sure, ARod is sorry he got caught. He wasn't going to turn himself in otherwise. He is regretful. Is he sincere? I have to think so, now, particularly that the toothpaste is out of the tube and not going back in. That there was a "culture" is almost immaterial. Sometimes, you have to stand in the face of what you know is wrong and hold the higher ground. ARod caved, which is yet another example of his insecurities and suspect moral fibers.

As far as the pressure, did it get any less difficult when he was traded to the Yanks? Last time I checked, NY isn't exactly a let-'em-off-easy sort of town.

PETER GAMMONS: You're saying that the time period was 2001, '2 and '3?

That's pretty accurate, yes.

"Pretty accurate"? Very poor choice of words, ARod. Neyer had it right here. "Pretty accurate" leaves the door open to interpretation and more questioning of the veracity of his claims.

What did surprise me, and credit to ARod for taking this step, is that ARod gave a rather large window. He could have simply pegged it to one year, but instead, he gave a 3 year window. Does that lend credibility to his story? I'm not sure but I did find it impressive that he copped to a three year window.

PETER GAMMONS: What kind of substances were you taking?

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 hate this one. ARod is a work-out fanatic. This is well-documented. There is no way he didn't know exactly what he was putting in his body or injecting into his butt. I think he could have tackled this differently, admitting using the two steroids he got caught using. Answering this question this way again leaves his answer open to all conjecture. Cynics could suggest that he's been trying everything presented to him, from HGH, to Dura, to Stanazolol/Winstrol, to Andro, etc., and there would be no way to refute any of it. Expecting the public to "buy" this naivete was a mistake, in my opinion.

PETER GAMMONS: Where did you originally get the substance?

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.

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. I'm not sure exactly what substance I used. But whatever it is, I feel terribly about it.

Same as above. Was he withholding for fear of a court case down the road? Afraid of getting dragged into congress? How soon does his supplier(s) identify himself? What if he got the PEDs from a former player? Is that why he kept mum?

PETER GAMMONS: Now, when did you get the wake-up call?

It wasn't until 2003. I was laying in my bed in Surprise, Arizona. We were doing a team conditioning down by the pool in Arizona. And I suffered a very serious neck injury that went all the way down to my spine. I missed about 2½ weeks of spring training, and I was scared I was going to miss time.

I also had a streak of about 400 games consecutive played, or 300, I'm not sure what the number was. But it was that point in bed that I realized, what am I doing? Not only am I going to hurt my baseball career, but I'm going to hurt my post career.

It was time to grow up, stop being selfish, stop being stupid and take control of whatever you're ingesting. And for that, I couldn't be -- I couldn't feel more regret and feel more sorry because I have so much respect for this game, and, you know, the people that follow me and respect me. And I have millions of fans out there that are, you know, will never look at me the same.
Can we believe this? I have no reason not to but I always find athlete's "come to Jesus" moments rather hollow. And if you had an idea that you were going to mention this moment, wouldn't you (or your handlers) at least fact-check the number of consecutive games played?

I also find the "I have so much respect for the game" stuff hollow. If you did indeed have that much respect for the game, that respect would have kept your body free of these substances.

PETER GAMMONS: Let's go back. How were you introduced to these substances? Was it at the gym? Was it from other players?

The culture, it was pretty prevalent. There were a lot of people doing a lot of things. There was a lot of gray area, too. You know, back then you could walk in GNC and get four or five different products that today would probably trigger a positive test. It wasn't a real dramatic day once I arrived in Texas that something monumental happened in my life. The point of the matter was that I started experimenting with things that today are not legal or today are not accepted and today you would get in a lot of trouble for.

Ever since that, that incident that happened to me in Arizona, Surprise, I realized that, you know what, I don't need any of it, and what I have is enough. I've played the best baseball of my career since. I've won two MVPs since, and I've never felt better in my career. Of that I'm very proud of.
The fact that he couldn't remember the moment he made the decision speaks loudly for me. Maybe it's just me, but if I am going to make the rather large leap from emerging all-time talent and future of the game to steroid-aided slugger, that's a pretty weighty decision that I don't take lightly. I view this passage as another window into ARod's fragile psyche and how it shows he is oh so worried about being loved and idolized.

The GNC comment is a cop-out. What he got nabbed for was never for sale in GNC. Maybe he was on Andro and that was available at GNC, but GNC's do not have a "testosterone and steroids" aisle, last I checked.

PETER GAMMONS: So the test that was failed in 2003, that came off -- what were you using of the spring training before you got hurt?

I'm not sure exactly of the timing of everything, because it is a long time. It's been almost six years. But I do remember thinking in my bed in Arizona, "What am I doing? Wake up. Stop being selfish." You get to a point where you get tired of being stupid and selfish and not being honest with yourself. And that's what I realized in '03.

So I am sorry for my Texas years. I apologize to the fans of Texas. And there's absolutely no excuse, and I really feel bad about it.

Deflect, deflect, deflect. Why not just say "I was using what the tests showed I was using"? This deflection only kicks the door open wider.

Other dissections:

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