SBD/Issue 100/Leagues & Governing Bodies

A-Rod Admission: Steroids Again Overshadowing Spring Training

Tejada's Steroid Case, In Addition To A-Rod,
Overshadowing Opening Of Spring Training
MLB teams this weekend begin reporting to Spring Training, but the league "once again is confronted with a full-blown steroids eruption, complete with renewed congressional scrutiny, judicial action and a new face to a scandal that is now in its second decade," according to Dave Sheinin of the WASHINGTON POST. The sport "remains unable to escape the taint" of steroid use with Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez' admission he used performance-enhancing drugs from '01-03 and Astros SS Miguel Tejada being charged yesterday with lying to congressional investigators in '05 about the use of PEDs in baseball. The ongoing situations regarding Rodriguez, Tejada, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens "all involve actions taken six or more years ago," but for MLB, the "scariest part is the future, and that which remains as yet undisclosed" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/11). In Baltimore, David Steele writes MLB should be "sweating like a junkie in withdrawal from the reminder of the Tejada-[Rafael] Palmeiro ties to not one, not two, but three of the game's most tainted organizations" -- the Orioles, the A's and the Rangers. The news of this week "reminds us, hopefully for good, that there's no end in sight" (Baltimore SUN, 2/11). In California, Bob Keisser writes Rodriguez' admission is the "juiciest story to come along in sports perhaps ever, and one without end." This is an "epic story of a sport without shame, a sport that looked a crisis in the eye, turned its head away in scorn and felt it could get away with anything." But it "turns out it can't get away with anything" (Long Beach PRESS-TELEGRAM, 2/11).

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
DOES IT BOTHER THE FANS? ESPN.com's Peter Keating noted a recent ESPN SportsNation poll revealed that 38% of respondents said that they were "surprised by the revelations about Rodriguez and steroids." When asked whether they would "forgive A-Rod for his transgressions," 38% of those polled said yes, 33% said no and 30% responded that there was "no need to forgive anything." Also, 15% of poll participants said that they "wouldn't care at all" if their favorite athlete admitted steroid use, while another 43% indicated that they would be "disappointed but would still support" him or her. Keating wrote the "unscientific survey results speak to the queasy but real consensus that has developed among baseball fans about performance enhancement: they now suspect its use among players" (ESPN.com, 2/10). In DC, Thomas Boswell writes, "Someday, A-Rod's dream of a best-case scenario may come true. Someday it may be generally accepted that he only cheated for three years and only lied for eight. What a great guy, relatively speaking." If that "time comes, Rodriguez may only be mildly detested by fans, not utterly shunned" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/11).

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
LAUGH IT UP: Rodriguez has become fodder for the late-night talk shows since his admission Monday. CBS' David Letterman said, "This baseball scandal, I'm telling you, every time you turn around there's something giving baseball a black eye. In terms of steroids I've always heard and I don't really know about it: one is called a clear. I don't know what that means. Another is a cream. I think the cream is a topical application. Well, listen to this. We have exclusive footage now, I can't tell you where we got it, of Alex Rodriguez having the cream applied. Biff seems to be involved somehow." The broadcast then aired old footage of Stage Manager Biff Henderson rubbing lotion on a shirtless Rodriguez ("Late Show," CBS, 2/10). NBC’s Jay Leno: "Before I begin, I want to say, I'm doing tonight's monologue without any performance-enhancing drugs! I think that will become evident as I move through the monologue" ("The Tonight Show," NBC, 2/10). Versus' Matt Iseman: "The one thing we do know is that whatever performance-enhancing drug he used had an expiration date of early October. Luckily, all this attention on A-Rod will give Michael Phelps a chance to exhale" ("Sports Soup," Versus, 2/10).

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