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Methuselah Regrets Youthful Folly

get_image-1The crux of A-Rod’s attitude about having taken banned substances (his term) from 2001-03 is that he was young, immature and stupid: he entered Major League Baseball at the tender age of 18, having never gone to college or had any other life experiences. Now, as he looks back with the wisdom of his years, he wishes he’d had the opportunity to grow up before being hurled head first into the cold cruel world of MLB.

For the record, Alex was born on August 27, 1975, making him 35 years old now. In 2003, the last year he allegedly injected himself with a substance that was OTC in the Dominican Republic but illegal in the U.S., he would have been 29, though he kept referring to himself as “24, 25” when he took the stuff. (See comments for math corrections.)

It was, says Alex, just youthful experimentation, no big deal, typical adolescent behavior from a naïve, ignorant kid. On the other hand, it was a terrible mistake for which he is begging forgiveness from his fans and teammates, and which he will atone for by spreading the anti-steroid gospel.

I’m not saying any of this to denigrate A-Rod, nor do I mean to imply he isn’t telling the truth. I’m just pointing out that MLB and our hypocritical, drug addled culture have put A-Rod in an impossible position. The things he’s saying are no accident: they’ve been carefully worked out by the PR firm he hired, calculated to polish up his tarnished image.

A-Rod pouring water over head

Still, these are mixed signals he’s throwing out, and I can’t help wondering—which is it? Youthful experimentation or naïve stupidity? Can you have it both ways? Maybe if you’re Alex Rodriguez you can.

Above: Some weird atonement ritual?

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3 responses »

  1. I agree with you, A-Rod is in an impossible situation. He put himself there, however, and he was old enough when he did it that the “young and stupid” excuse is, well, just an excuse. It’s not an explanation.

    But I think an important factor that’s been overlooked in much of the commentary about steroids in baseball is the culpability of the fans. We, the fans, cheer the loudest for the longest home runs. We, the fans, pack a stadium the day before the All-Star Game to ooh and ahhh during the idiotic Home Run Derby. (I’ve long thought that a better contest to showcase true baseball hitting skills would be the Opposite-Field Doubles Derby or the Bunt Single Derby.) We, the fans, cluck approvingly when a huge contract is signed by the latest stat-shattering big bopper. We, the fans, have made the walk-off home run baseball’s signature dramatic moment. And we, the fans, agreed that Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa “saved” baseball after the devastating player’s strike in 1994 with their Big Fly Circus.

    The game’s biggest home run hitters sign the game’s biggest contracts for a reason: the fans love home runs. The owners love, and pay for, what the fans love. And the players love what the owners will pay for. In these circumstances, how could a hitter not be tempted to take a little something in order to become bigger, stronger and further-hitting?

    You’ve got a point, Steve. But just because fans love the big home runs–and I’m as culpable as anyone–I don’t think that’s why the players get stoned. Sure, they love hitting the big ones and getting the cheers, but that’s a small part of the story. Having had a little experience with altered states, I can imagine they got more out of taking steroids than big batting. Chances are they felt, at times, superhuman, or at least better than they felt sans steroids. Chances are they believed they performed better overall, not just at hitting. The stats don’t always back up that perception, but as everyone knows, perceptions on drugs don’t have to be accurate to make someone happy. I’m rambling, but all I really want to say is I don’t think the fans are that much to blame. It’s the nature of human beings to want a quick ticket to nirvana, whether on the ball field or under a pair of headphones. These athletic gods aren’t so different, in the end, from us mortals.–MS

  2. I admit, at this point I have a hard time believing anything that A-Rod says. The story changes every time he tells it. I think we’re getting some of the truth, but not the whole truth.

    BTW, check A-Rod’s birthdate. He’s 33, not 35. Either way, he can’t keep blaming youth, stupidity and his mysterious cousin.

  3. Yes, my math does seem to be a little bit off (not unusual); still, A-Rod was no teenager when he was “experimenting,” so his lame excuse doesn’t fly.

    The post-press conference consensus seems to be disbelief. More than that, people are disgusted with Alex and his phony bs. I don’t know why I was feeling sorry for the guy–I’ve never much liked him.

    According to those who could see A-Rod’s teammates at the press conference, they all remained stone-faced, even when A-Rod got emotional about them. And Jorge Posada, probably the least hypocritical of the bunch, got up and left in the middle of the festivities, apparently disgusted. Johnny Damon was the only one who spoke with reporters: he told Hannah Storm there are a lot worse things Alex could have done, and when she asked him to name something he said “Murder someone.” Out of the mouths of babes.

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