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Alex Rodriguez – Another Hero Falls

By Brian | February 17, 2009 | Share on Facebook

Back in February, amidst steroid abuse charges against Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens, I wrote this:

I mention my kids because I’m very much of the opinion that sports, for adults, is entertainment. It’s a diversion from the things that truly matter in our lives – our families, our jobs, our communities, our politics, etc. As an adult, my interest in whether or not a professional baseball player cheated to win a World Series doesn’t amount to much more than idle gossip. It simply isn’t that important in the big picture. But kids view sports differently. Kids dream of becoming professional athletes. They emulate them. They watch their every move and listen to their every word. The athletes are, for better of for worse, heroes in their world. Superheroes, like Superman or Batman, but real enough to watch on TV and during the occasional trip to the ballpark.

I went on to talk about what I told my kids about folks like Giambi, Pettitte, and Clemens. I encourage you to re-read the post, but in summary, it’s this: “great baseball players, but also cheaters. And no one likes to play with a cheater.” Pettitte’s case, it should be repeated, was a bit different, in that his sin was more about not listening to your doctor and not about trying to win by breaking the rules. Also, he apologized for it when he got caught. I hope my kids never cheat, but if they do cheat, I hope they have the sense to apologize and make things right.

Which brings me to Alex Rodriguez.

Here’s what A-Rod told Katie Couric back in December of 2007:

COURIC: You never felt like, “This guy’s doing it, maybe I should look into this, too? He’s getting better numbers, playing better ball?”

RODRIGUEZ: I’ve never felt over-matched on the baseball field. I’ve always been a very strong, dominant position. And I felt that if I did my work as I’ve done since I was, you know, a rookie back in Seattle, I didn’t have a problem competing at any level. So, no.

And here’s what he told Peter Gammons last week:

GAMMONS: Alex . . . What is the truth?

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.

Seems like a polar-opposite response, no? Gammons caught the discrepancy too:

GAMMONS: You mentioned the Katie Couric interview. You were asked if you ever used steroids, human growth hormones or other performance-enhancing substances. You said no, flat-out no. In your mind, that wasn’t a lie?

RODRIGUEZ: At the time, Peter, I wasn’t even being truthful with myself. How am I going to be truthful with Katie or CBS? Today, I’m here to tell the truth, and I feel good about that. I think my fans deserve that. I’m ready to put everything behind me and go play baseball.

So, tonight, when my kids asked me about A-Rod and his steroid use, we had the same conversation. “Alex Rodriguez,” I told them, “is a great baseball player, but not a very good person. He cheated and then he lied about his cheating until he got caught. He, too, apologized for what he had done, but like Pettitte and the others, only after being caught.”

Much to my pleasant surprise, my older son, Avery, already knew this, despite not having seen Katie Couric or Peter Gammons. You see, two years ago, Rodriguez released a children’s book entitled Out of the Ballpark. A family member went to a book signing in New York and bought Avery an autographed copy of the book, which we read together at the time.

Two years later, Avery remembered this page, on which Alex not only lied to Katie Couric and to CBS, but to my son, and millions of young fans like him:

(Highlighting added by me)

I don’t mind that my kids admire A-Rod’s abilities on the ball field, but he’s lost their respect. I hope that means as much to him as it does to me.

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