The highest paid player in baseball admitted to ESPN’s Peter Gammons Monday that he succumbed to the pressure of the job in 2001, injecting himself with HGH and Primobolan.
Now, the MLB’s happily inflated statistical bubble has been bursting for years, with congressional hearings, Mitchell reports and José Canseco tell-alls vilifying everyone from the obvious-in-hindsight Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens to the “who’s that again?” likes of Mark Carreon and Jason Grimsley. But this was A-Rod. He’s the game’s shining light (or lightning rod, depending on which media market you subscribe to).
A week ago, Rodriguez was penned in as the man to take down the ill-gotten, asterisk-heavy home run record set by Barry Bonds. That’s all over now. From 2001 to 2003, A-Rod had the second most homeruns in the league with 156. Number one? Barry Bonds, with 164. At the time, it was a laudable achievement from two of the game’s stars. No más.
The shock of having a player who most believed to be clean admit he’s not is sobering for the baseball community. The witch-hunt is on again, refueled by the SI report. But the game needs to move past clandestine finger pointing.
Locked away under a California court-ordered seal are 103 more names of players who tested positive in the 2003 survey. Will they see the light of day? Probably not. The player’s union used the survey as a way to find out if random drug testing was needed for the 2004 season and the results were never supposed to get out.
But should it? Yes. The only way for baseball to heal itself in this he-said, she-said steroid madhouse is with concrete evidence. Some big names may go down in the process, but don’t make A-Rod the only one.
For commissioner Bud Selig to justify his $18.5 million salary without taking a harder line on the game’s drug problem is unacceptable. The players union will never do it, but if they love and respect the game the way the fans still seem too (but may not for long), we hope they at least think about punishing steroid cheats.