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Tejada's Steroid Case, In Addition To A-Rod,
Overshadowing Opening Of Spring Training
CANNOT ESCAPE THE PAST: In DC, Tom Knott writes Rodriguez admitting to using PEDs is "perhaps as damaging to baseball as Bonds and Clemens." MLB is "destined to experience another 'Back to the Future' season in 2009," and it "cannot get ahead of the steroids era because of its vow of privacy." The vow "did not work in Rodriguez's favor, no more than it will work in the favor of those to follow" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 2/11). In West Palm Beach, Dave George writes all fans "ever wanted from Alex Rodriguez was to bring blessed closure to the question of who deserves to be lauded as all-time home run champ," but MLB instead has a "patch of scorched earth." George: "Makes more sense from this point forward to conclude, for argument's sake, that everybody used some sort of performance-enhancing substance during baseball's unsupervised steroid era" (PALM BEACH POST, 2/11). In Milwaukee, Michael Hunt: "What another fine mess for [MLB Commissioner] Bud Selig and his game. Just when he thought he was out, they're pulling him back in." Selig for the past few years had "made the rounds to spread his gospel of progress against the cheaters." While MLB has "made advancements with its drug problem," there is "another can of escaping worms for the commish to worry about" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 2/11). The Nation’s Dave Zirin said, "When you look at who has anabolic egg on their face, it’s Bud Selig who’s been pushing Alex Rodriguez as this sort of clean home run king alternative to Barry Bonds” (“Outside The Lines,” ESPN, 2/10). In Utah, Brad Rock writes under the header, "Baseball Strikes Out Again" (DESERET NEWS, 2/11). Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt said of hearing the news Rodriguez tested positive, "Ugh -- that was my first reaction. Here we go again. ... It’s the past that we have to deal with on a daily basis" ("Hot Stove," MLB Network, 2/10).
EDITORIAL ROUNDUP: A PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER editorial states, "It's been revealed that another one of the biggest stars in baseball abused steroids. It's become part of the new annual national pastime." MLB "can't be trusted to police itself, even now that it has finally begun testing players" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 2/11). A USA TODAY editorial states, "This week's news shows that the sorry steroid saga is far from finished." Rodriguez' apology Monday on ESPN was "fleeting and incomplete," and MLB officials "didn't help much, either." Selig did not comment and is waiting for more details, but "what exactly does he need to know?" (USA TODAY, 2/11). A N.Y. TIMES editorial states MLB has "stepped up its drug testing in recent years, but it would be reckless to assume that it has emerged from a steroid-tarnished era." Is there "any star player in [MLB] who has not taken performance-enhancing drugs?" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/11). The TORONTO STAR: "Why should we care? While athletes like Rodriguez are clearly just ordinary mortals, we put them on a pedestal. And when they lie and cheat, as Rodriguez did, it sends a cynical message to society, especially young people" (TORONTO STAR, 2/11).
Poll Shows Majority Of Fans Would Support
Favorite Athlete If They Admitted To Steroid Use
STOP THE PUBLIC CRITICISM: In DC, Sally Jenkins writes performance-enhancing drugs are a "culture issue, not a baseball, football or track issue." By "chastising athletes for it, aren't we really hindering our ability to get at the whole truth?" It is a "fundamental question, for instance, whether [MLB] has a larger performance-enhancement problem than Hollywood, and whether athletes use more artificial aids in the performance of their jobs than Sylvester Stallone." The "public flogging of athletes and the forced extraction of their confessions is becoming a disgusting spectacle" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/11). CBSSPORTS.com's Gregg Doyel: "Getting disgusted at drug cheats is the easy thing to do, and for a few years, it felt like the right thing to do. But it doesn't feel right anymore. ... I'm not outraged anymore. What I am, and what I suspect a lot of you are, is tired of the charade" (CBSSPORTS.com, 2/10). ESPN's Michael Wilbon: “Fans just don’t care the way folks in the media want them to” ("PTI," ESPN, 2/10).
PEER PRESSURE: The Washington Post's Boswell noted the "greatest deterrent" to MLBers using performance-enhancing drugs is not the league's current testing program, though it is getting "better." Instead, the biggest reason is seeing a "seven-time MVP (Bonds), a seven-time Cy Young Award-winner (Clemens) and the player who was going to hit 800 home runs and break every home run record (Rodriguez), all of those people completely brought low." Boswell: "If you are taking steroids now, you’re nuts, and players know that” (“The Newshour With Jim Lehrer,” PBS, 2/10).
APOLOGY ACCEPTED? On Long Island, Wallace Matthews examines Rodriguez' apology on Monday under the header, "A-Rod Should Apologize For His Sorry Performance." It has become "laughable to hear the expressions of sympathy and support for poor, besieged A-Rod coming from all corners of the baseball universe." He is "being lauded for his honesty (huh?), his courage (say what?) and his ability to face down the adversity, which of course is totally of his own making." The "skewed reality at work here is truly mind-boggling and the hypocrisy jaw-dropping" (NEWSDAY, 2/11). In Seattle, Steve Kelley writes Rodriguez' apology was "all about damage control and image repair." The move was the "right thing to do, but it was a shallow, gratuitous performance." Kelley: "But what has happened in baseball really isn't much different from what is happening on Wall Street, is it?" (SEATTLE TIMES, 2/11). ESPN.com's Tim Keown wrote for his "parsed and incomplete bout of public honesty, Rodriguez immediately becomes one of the more dignified members of the all-star class of baseball's steroid users" (ESPN.com, 2/10). However, ESPN.com's Fainaru-Wada & Quinn cited steroid experts who said that it is "implausible that the superstar had no idea what substances he was taking" (ESPN.com, 2/10).
CBS' "Late Show" Pokes Fun At A-Rod
With Library Footage Of Him Getting Rub Down
Fehr Says Anonymity Promised To Participants
In '03 Drugs Tests Should Be Honored
TUG OF WAR: In N.Y., Michael Schmidt reports the "most likely way more of those ... names will come out is if the federal government prevails in its legal battle to keep possession of the seized positive tests." If the government is allowed to keep the tests, prosecutors "plan to summon everyone, active and retired, who had positive samples in 2003 and ask them where they obtained the substances that they used." That information would "allow the prosecutors to go after their consistent target -- the distributors." And if testimony from those players is "used in government documents to obtain search warrants or charge individuals, their identities could become public." Those players "could also be called as witnesses at trials." The fact that this is a possibility "has created misgivings between" MLB and the MLBPA, and those misgivings have "come into focus in the days since it was disclosed that Rodriguez tested positive" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/11). Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt said, "We need to find a way to clear the air on this because we have a new system in place and moving forward I think we’re in good shape. But, we can’t have this drip, drip, drip of everyday another piece of news that really soils the game" ("Hot Stove," MLB Network, 2/10). An MLB exec described the MLB-MLBPA relationship as "like a marriage." The exec: "You have rough patches, but you get through them." FOXSPORTS.com's Ken Rosenthal writes this is "maybe the roughest [patch] since the 2002 labor negotiations." There is "mounting distrust between the two sides over baseball's free-agent market and drug-testing program, issues that were sources of contention in past labor disputes" (FOXSPORTS.com, 2/11).
NAMES NOT LIKELY ANYTIME SOON: Fehr said of the possibility of the remaining names becoming public, "There's a legally binding mandate that would prevent people from disclosing (the list). I would hope that people adhere to that." Fehr "expressed confidence that this issue wouldn't contribute to a future work stoppage." The CBA runs through the '11 MLB season, and Fehr said, "If we do (have tension in the next CBA negotiations), it's far more likely going to be over economic issues than drug-testing ones" (NEWSDAY, 2/11). SI.com's Michael McCann wrote it is unlikely the remaining names will be made public "for the foreseeable future," as for the MLBPA to "now release the remaining 103 names would violate the trust placed by players in union executives." Such a violation would "possibly expose the MLBPA to liability for breach of its duties," as the players "could suffer serious reputational damage if identified as a steroids user." While there are "multiple rationales for the MLBPA to preserve the confidentiality of the 103 names, there is at least one justification for it to release the information: Doing so would cease the skepticism directed toward numerous players who, over the last 48 hours, have become the undeserving targets of Internet and sports radio speculation as to whether they are among the 103." Along those lines, a player or group of players "could attempt to persuade, even force, the MLBPA to release the list." It also is "possible that players could pursue direct legal channels to force the MLBPA to reveal the names" (SI.com, 2/10).
Cashman Says Players Promised Anonymity
Should Not Have Their Rights Violated
PLACING BLAME: In Toronto, Richard Griffin writes under the header, "Positive Tests Shouldn't Come As A Surprise To Fans." The "biggest internal culprit" is MLBPA COO Gene Orza, who was "supposed to destroy all of the player samples after the numbers had been compiled and the agreement fulfilled." If Orza had done that, Rodriguez "would have remained merely a number," but Orza "always thought himself smarter than the rest." Orza "saved the samples, hoping to use any 'false positive' as the means to the end of drug testing" (TORONTO STAR, 2/11). In Philadelphia, Sam Donnellon writes Orza and Fehr "facilitated so much of this in the wild late-1980s and '90s, shielded the cheaters by blocking every attempt to institute a credible drug-testing policy, made them feel immune even from the kind of week that A-Rod is now having." Orza and Fehr "think they protected their constituency all those years," but "in truth, they damned them all" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 2/11). In Newark, Jerry Izenberg writes under the header, "MLB Players' Union Deserves To Take A Big Hit." Izenberg: "This is about ... Donald Fehr and Gene Orza from the players union. A union that is not a union but an insult to the uphill battle Marvin Miller waged against the baseball owners' plantation mentality. ... Maybe I'm missing something here, but unions are really supposed to protect their members" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 2/11).
Writer Says Execs Like Fehr (l) And Selig (r)
Don't Deserve Walks On Steroid Era
BLAST FROM THE PAST: ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick noted Miller has "defended the union's conduct and accused the federal government and major drug testing bodies of engaging in a 'witch hunt' against prominent athletes." Miller yesterday said that MLBPA leaders are "now paying for their biggest mistake -- the decision to bow to public and Congressional pressure and enter into an agreement with [MLB] to institute mandatory testing" in '04. Miller: "Everything I've read in the last few days is unfair and anti-union. But that does not mean I agree that (union officials) are without blame. When they agreed on a testing program, I said, 'They're going to regret this, because you're going to see players going to jail.' ... I would never have agreed to any testing program in the first place. There's no evidence that's plausible to justify testing people indiscriminately." Miller said of the government's involvement, "It's a witch hunt in baseball, for sure, but it also extends to cycling and the Olympics. And the victims are the athletes. They're obviously the ones being hunted down here." Miller added, "The media, without evidence, keep telling young people all over the country, 'All you have to do to be a famous athlete with lots of money is take steroids.' The media are the greatest merchants of encouraging this that I've ever seen" (ESPN.com, 2/10).
Writer Notes Boras' Biggest
Clients Have Been Sluggers
Gossage Says He Wants To Know The Other
103 Players Who Tested Positive In '03
Wright Believes Rodriguez'
Apology Was Sincere
DAMAGE DONE: Gossage said as a result of Rodriguez' admission, "everything has been smudged -- the Yankees, baseball, A-Rod, everyone involved and all of these other guys, too." More Gossage: "Alex is probably going to break the (home-run) record, but all credibility is out the window. Henry Aaron did it clean and that's the bottom line. Anything else is tainted and what does it mean?" (N.Y. POST, 2/11). Former MLB Commissioner Fay Vincent in a special to SPORTINGNEWS.com wrote, "I don't think anybody comes out of this whole period looking well. A-Rod has been hurt very badly. So has (Barry) Bonds. So has (Roger) Clemens. Baseball itself is hurt. ... I feel bad for baseball. It hurts baseball very badly" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 2/10). D'Backs LF Eric Byrnes: "This is terrible for the game. I couldn't think of worse timing, and really I couldn't think of a worse player for this to happen to” ("BDSSP," FSN, 2/10). Meanwhile, Astros P Roy Oswalt said, "A-Rod's numbers shouldn't count for anything. I feel like he cheated me out of the game" (MLB.com, 2/11).
Helfand Says Vincent Was Never Involved
With ProAthletesOnly.com Web Site
VINCENT LISTED AS SITE CO-OWNER IN BIO: Although Spivey said Vincent has separated from the site, Vincent's biography on the Web site Eltekon.com for a financial advisory firm he co-owns said as late as last month that Vincent "owns all or part of several companies, including ... Pro-Athletes Only." The bio was changed about the time that Helfand was arrested. Attempts to reach Helfand were also unsuccessful yesterday. But in an interview with SportsBusiness Journal last month, Helfand said that Vincent was never involved in the Web site or the parent company, despite press releases and Vincent's own bios to the contrary. Helfand said that no athletes had invested their personal funds in the venture. Spivey, however, said that he invested more than $10,000 of his personal funds in the venture and that another baseball player Spivey would not identify had invested more. Multiple football sources said at least one NFL player had invested personal funds in the venture.
ELTEKON REFUTES POST ARTICLE: Eltekon today released a statement responding to the allegations in yesterday's N.Y. Post article and saying the company stands behind Vincent. The statement read in part, "We fully support Mr. Vincent in his leadership role with Eltekon and are proud to be associated with him."