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Tag:Alex Rodriguez
Posted on: May 8, 2009 5:00 pm
 

Stories they could (and do) tell

Of course Manny Ramirez blames a doctor in Florida for prescribing him bad stuff for "a personal health issue."

Of course the doctor "gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was OK to give me," Manny said in his statement.

Of course. Rare is the player who violates baseball's drug prevention program testing, or is shoulder-deep in circumstantial evidence, and is actually guilty.

Let's review:

Alex Rodriguez: Said his cousin in Florida got some stuff for him. "I didn't think they were steroids. Again, that's part of being young and stupid."

Paul Byrd: The pitcher, then working for Cleveland in the 2007 American League Championship Series, said he began taking Human Growth Hormone as part of treatment for a tumor on his pituitary gland. Said he took it under medical supervision. Later reports alleged that Byrd actually began taking HGH before any pituitary gland tumor was found and that one of the medical "professionals" to have prescribed Byrd's stash was a Florida dentist whose dental license had been suspended for fraud and incompetence. Don't know if that Florida dentist knows Manny's Florida doctor.

(I don't know whether Byrd's Florida dentist knows Manny's Florida doctor. Or whether the dentist and the doctor know A-Rod's Florida cousin. I do know this is all sounds like something hatched in a Carl Hiaasen novel.)

Rafael Palmeiro: "I did not do this intentionally or knowingly." He said he thought he was getting vitamin B-12 from then-teammate Miguel Tejada.

Alex Sanchez: The first major-leaguer suspended, back in 2004, under the drug policy. "I take stuff I buy over the counter," he said. "Multivitamins, protein shakes, muscle relaxants. That kind of stuff."

Barry Bonds: The Cream? The Clear? Bonds said he thought it was flaxseed oil.

Roger Clemens: Hey man, it was Vitamin B-12. And the injections were Lidocaine.

Sergio Mitre: Former Cubs pitcher suspended in January after taking banned substance "unwittingly" that was purchased from a legal supplement at a GNC store.

Mike Cameron: Tested positive for a banned stimulant twice. "I can only conclude that a nutritional supplement I was taking was tainted."

J.C. Romero: Phillies reliever has filed suit against nutritional supplement manufacturer alleging an unlisted ingredient in one of its products caused him to test positive for a substance banned by Major League Baseball.

Likes: Former pitcher Rob Dibble on SIRIUS XM satellite radio Thursday: "I almost believe that you should get a lifetime ban for idiocy because it's just so ridiculous that you could think 'I'm above it all, I'm Manny Ramirez, I'm Alex Rodriguez, I'm Rafael Palmeiro, I'm Roger Clemens.' How many more guys do I have to name before we run out of heroes and superstar players in the major leagues that you actually believe aren't doing this stuff?" ... And this from Dibble on SIRIUS XM: "To me, it's an embarrassment for all of these guys, more so for the people that didn't cheat and the guys that played, 20, 30, 40 years ago, including people like Roberto Clemente or Jackie Robinson or Willie Mays. Can you imagine these older gentlemen sitting at home and hearing about this?" ... Dontrelle Willis to start for Detroit at Minnesota on Wednesday. ... State of Play. Entertaining movie, though a little schmaltzy in places with the repartee between the Russell Crowe reporter character and the Rachel McAdams blogger character. ... KLOS, the venerable rock radio station in Los Angeles (95.5 on your dial). Good stuff.

Dislikes: Bob Melvin is a good man. Arizona's problems run way deeper than him. But it's right there in the manager's handbook: One day, you must go.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?
"A nation turns its lonely eyes to you
"What's that you say, Mrs. Robinson?
"Joltin' Joe has left and gone away"

-- Simon and Garfunkel, Mrs. Robinson

Posted on: May 7, 2009 12:51 pm
 

Manny Ramirez suspended for 50 games

Manny Ramirez has stepped into a lot of history books lately, but Thursday he stepped into the wrong one: Biggest name to be put on ice for 50 games after failing a performance-enhancing drug test since baseball got religion about steroids.

That sort of takes the edge off of the Los Angeles Dodgers' record 13-0 home start, doesn't it?

Ah, dreadlocks!

Baseball never caught up to Barry Bonds. Sammy Sosa disappeared. Mark McGwire melted into a puddle in front of Congress. Alex Rodriguez actually did fail a PED test, but that was before it resulted in suspensions. And baseball never outed him, that information was leaked.

This, this is 100 percent, prime-time, major-league baseball driven. And it does two things:

1. Whatever you've thought of baseball's testing program, Ramirez's suspension Thursday adds credibility to it. Loads. Because this side of A-Rod or, perhaps, Albert Pujols, there is no bigger fish in the game. For baseball to whack an impact player like Manny, Lordy, Lordy. The reverberations will be felt deep into the corners of every clubhouse in the game.

2. It hollows out Ramirez's numbers because, until now, and especially lately after his run last year, all conversation surrounding Ramirez has included the phrase "one of the greatest hitters of all-time." Really? Maybe. If you can get past the new stain.

Somewhere, A-Rod no doubt is smiling, at least a little, in anticipation of his pot being turned down to simmer from full boil.

Over in Mannywood, this blow is devastating to the Dodgers. Barely a month into the season, there already are signs all over the place that this was shaping up to be a special summer. The home start, the best record in baseball, the 6 1/2-game lead over San Francisco in the NL West.

But now, instead of turning the divisional race into a blowout and storming toward their first World Series since 1988, the emergency brake has been yanked on the Dodgers. They'll have to muddle through without Manny for nearly a third of the season. Without an appeal and assuming the suspension begins tonight against Washington, if my math is right, Manny won't be eligible again until July 3.

The glee in Boston already is deafening. Though now we must play the game of "How long has Manny been on the juice?" and you figure that this all didn't just start yesterday. Does it compromise what he did in Fenway (and, consequently, the two World Series the Red Sox won with him)? Does it date back to Cleveland?

All we know for sure is, the game suffered another cataclysmic earthquake on Thursday. Manny, dreadlocks and all, will never be viewed the same again.

And regarding the Dodgers' 13-0 home start: Turns out, that is one heckuva unlucky number, isn't it?

Posted on: May 4, 2009 12:58 pm
 

A-Rod: The book

On the other hand, at least the new book released today, A-Rod: The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez, presents no evidence that Our Man is obsessed with adopting Cambodian babies alongside Angelina Jolie. So praise the heavens for that.

As you probably heard from noted literary critic Joe Girardi, publication of Selena Roberts' hot new tome was moved up to today, May 4, because of public clamoring and, well, the publisher's interest of selling as many books as possible.

While Girardi bitched and moaned about it, the rest of us could do the same about the Yankees manager for expediting his expected publication date of a New York lineup card with Alex Rodriguez's name on it. Once not planned until later this summer, Rodriguez's rehab has progressed quickly enough so as to align the stars for this serendipitous occasion: Now, he and the book will hit the charts within mere days of each other.

Beautiful. Wasn't life so much more enjoyable while A-Rod was away getting his hip fixed, or his stories straight, or wherever he was?

As for the book, there are no more steroids bombshells. Yeah, there's the stuff from anonymous sources making Roberts' case that A-Rod became ripped from steroids as far back as high school, and that he may have continued to work with HGH into his Yankee Years. It's interesting, juicy, tawdry stuff. But the bombshell came back in February when Roberts first reported the story that Rodriguez had failed a steroid test back in 2003. That's when Rodriguez fell hard from grace. Now it's just a matter of how far the fall is.

Rodriguez already having been revealed as a cheat and a liar, the book would be more satisfying if it contained another smoking gun extending Rodriguez's performance-enhancing drugs era. While Roberts presents extensive anonymous sources and much circumstantial evidence, however, there is no smoking gun.

What we do know is that, on this particular subject, Roberts has a whopping lead over A-Rod in the credibility department. So while it is utterly believable that he gulped steroids at 16 or to suspect that he used HGH in Yankee pinstripes, A-Rod does not produce proof positive -- which places it alongside so much else in the Steroid Era. We suspect this, we think that, but we just cannot know for sure.

Frankly, the sexiest news to emerge is the book's charges that A-Rod tipped friendly opposing batters as to what pitches were coming next in blowouts when he was with the Rangers, expecting the same in return from them. That's the part that should especially get the attention of the Commissioner's Office because that strikes at the very heart of the competition.

The lasting lesson from the 1919 World Series is that if the games are fixed, the sport is ruined. These charges, if true, may not have affected the outcome of games, but they damn sure chip away at the credibility of parts of games, rendering them less authentic and leading perilously close to the point of no return.

Aside from that, the book spends much of its time psychoanalyzing Rodriguez. Roberts is a very sharp woman with keen insights and a graceful pen. She finds meaning in small detail and paints an even creepier portrait than the A-Rod narrative to date has done. There is plenty of material to mine, and the hard hat and miner's lamp suits her well. A-Rod long ago became the emperor with no clothes. Read A-Rod, and Our Man is laid even more bare by the time Roberts finishes with him.

In the end, despite word that the Commissioner's Office is cranking up for another investigation into A-Rod's PED usage, my guess is that this book will prove more valuable to fans in opposing cities than it will to investigators. I mean, if the Balco study Game of Shadows, published in 2006, didn't aid baseball in suspending Barry Bonds and preventing him from swiping Hank Aaron's all-time home run record in 2007, it's difficult to see Bud Selig and Co. producing a book report now that culminates with an A-Rod suspension.

But wow, if A-Rod is coming to a ballpark near you this summer -- attention, Fenway Park denizens -- this book is rich with material for hecklers. The weird Madonna obsession, the divorce from Cynthia, the swingers' clubs and strip joints ... ugh.

Anybody who viewed those Details magazine photos this spring picturing Rodriguez kissing himself in the mirror knows that this is one twisted individual. I mean, what grown man do you know who would do that, ever, either in private or for a photo shoot? Kiss himself in a mirror?

This is one strange and bizarre dude, and what the Yankees are about to gain with his bat in the lineup, they're also about to gain tenfold paparazzi.

As for Girardi, he should worry about managing.

"I get tired of answering these questions," he said Sunday at Yankee Stadium.

Yeah, well, ask Joe Torre about that. It's part of the gig managing the circus that is the Yankees. You wanted the job? It comes whole, not in small, digestible pieces.

Besides, nobody forced the Yankees to re-sign this guy after he arrogantly opted out of his contract during Game 4 of the 2007 World Series, anyway. You make your bed, you lie in it. Don't start whining now.

 

Posted on: March 8, 2009 7:51 pm
 

Aging Yanks need A-Rod

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The New York Yankees grew sick and tired of discussing Alex Rodriguez and steroids about 30 seconds after they arrived at Camp Steinbrenner this spring.

But given the choice of talking steroids with A-Rod in their lineup, or drifting away from the topic while A-Rod misses the first two months of the season while recuperating from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip?

Don't let anyone kid you, the Yankees would take the steroids conversation and A-Rod in a heartbeat.

General manager Brian Cashman said as much after the A-Rod press conference upon his arrival in Tampa. Nearly 20 Yankees attended, and when someone asked Cashman afterward whether he really believed the roll call was because of a true affinity for Rodriguez, Cashman, in as honest a moment as there was that day, demurred.

Some of them attended out of an affinity for A-Rod, Cashman said. But others attended because they know how vital he is to this season and they know they've got to do everything they can to make sure he's not a basket case.

"We've invested in him as an asset," Cashman said that day. "And because of that, this is an asset that is going through a crisis. So we'll do everything we can to protect that asset and support that asset and try to salvage that asset."

This is a team that ranked seventh in the American League in runs scored last season with Rodriguez. Yes, the Yankees added free agent Mark Teixeira. But they also lost Jason Giambi and Bobby Abreu, a couple of solid on-base guys.

And catcher Jorge Posada and outfielder Hideki Matsui each is another year older and returning from surgery, and right now center field is an open competition between Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner (no, neither will be posting Mickey Mantle offensive numbers).

And the club's most realistic in-house option as we speak to replace A-Rod at third is ... Cody Ransom?

A-Rod may have perpetual foot-in-mouth disease, but whatever "distractions" he brings, that the Yankees are a far better club with him between the white lines is unassailable.

Colleague Danny Knobler looked up some numbers the other day and came up with this: In five seasons with the Yankees, A-Rod has started all but 46 games. During that time, the Yankees were 146 games over .500 in games he's started and four games under .500 when he was not in the lineup.

The Yankees right now have two huge issues:

One, how in the world they're going to plug the leak while he's away in April and May (CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte, time to step up!).

Two, what kind of shape will he be in when he returns? To expect him to come back from hip surgery, flick a switch and immediately post A-Rod-like numbers is completely disingenuous. Even the great A-Rod is going to need a period of rehabilitation, and odds are he will not be playing at 100 percent for a significant part of this season.

Consider this a stark reminder that, despite all the millions they spent this winter, the Yankees remain dangerously old in several key spots. A-Rod is 33, Matsui and Derek Jeter are 34, Johnny Damon 35 and Posada 37.

Somewhere, the defending American League East champion Tampa Bay Rays must be feeling younger and more limber than ever.

 

 

Posted on: February 18, 2009 9:27 am
 

Chipper on A-Rod: "I feel for him, I really do"

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Atlanta Braves slugger Chipper Jones said Wednesday he did not watch the Alex Rodriguez press conference, nor did he spend any time viewing the highlights (or lowlights, as it were).

For Jones, the fact that Rodriguez has admitted using steroids is enough.

"I commend A-Rod for coming out and admitting to it," Jones said Wednesday morning at the Braves' complex. "He's doing all the right things. The guy made a mistake. We were all tempted back then. I feel for him, I really do.

"I hope he's forgiven. He means well.

"Steroids or no steroids, he's still one of the top five players I've ever seen in my life. Let's move on."

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day

"Everybody's got a cousin in Miami
"Everybody understands the impromptu
"Dancing in the heat to the beat
"That turns your clothing clammy
"Everybody needs to have a dream come true"

-- Jimmy Buffett, Everybody's Got a Cousin in Miami

Posted on: February 17, 2009 11:57 am
 

Waiting for A-Rod

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Big Top, er, tent is ready and the podium is set.

Now, with disgraced slugger Alex Rodriguez expected to conduct his first public news conference at 1:30 p.m. EST today, want to know what a (Bronx) zoo this place is?

The parking lot at George M. Steinbrenner Field is jammed. So jammed that, a few minutes ago, a reporter left to make a Starbucks run and was warned by a security guard that he could not guarantee that she'd be allowed back in the parking lot -- that there'd be room -- when she returned. So she bagged the Starbucks run.

Meantime, before the Yankees' morning workout, their clubhouse was crammed with media. If you're the least bit claustrophobic, it wasn't a good place to be.

Veteran pitcher Brett Tomko, in camp trying to win a bullpen job, put it best as he threaded his way from the front door toward his locker in the back of the room.

"It's like going around landmines here," he said of dodging all the reporters. "It feels like playing hoops and you're making your way around defenders."

As of 10:15 a.m., when they closed the clubhouse and the Yankees prepared to go to the field, several key players, including Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon, still were absent. And there was no sight of A-Rod, yet.

Today is reporting day, with the Yankees first full-squad workout scheduled for Wednesday.

See ya after the A-Rod show.

Posted on: February 15, 2009 4:07 pm
Edited on: February 15, 2009 5:22 pm
 

A-Rod: Circle the date

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees are bracing for Alex Rodriguez's arrival, expecting him to report on Tuesday and -- they anticipate -- hold a news conference that day.

Because their first full-squad workout is scheduled for Wednesday, and because they know know the A-Rod/steroids story will loom over them all season, they're hoping he can at least clear the air somewhat so they can hold Wednesday's workout in relative peace.

"Let me tell you, I'm really looking forward to getting beyond Tuesday," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said following Sunday's workout, comparing the A-Rod situation with last year's Andy Pettitte scenario. "I think (the story) will linger a little bit, I think like Andy's did in a sense, and maybe to a little larger magnitude just becasue people stay around for a little bit.

"Everyone can't stay around forever. There's other stories in the world -- hopefully fairly quickly."

Last spring, Pettitte, who had admitted using human growth hormone after he was named in the Mitchell Report, was one of the biggest of those stories. And in a scene depressingly familiar with what is expected to transpire when A-Rod arrives, the Yankees hosted a press conference with Pettitte at the microphone that was part confessional, part apology and part therapy.

With A-Rod, the club has not scheduled anything official yet, but Tuesday is reporting day for position players. Girardi, general manager Brian Cashman, Pettitte, catcher Jorge Posada and shortstop Derek Jeter -- and likely others -- plan to attend A-Rod's session as a show of support. Cashman said Sunday that several players have asked when it is.

"He's dealing with the problem," said Cashman, who has spoken with A-Rod multiple times since the third baseman admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs from 2001-2003. "He's trying to address it in the most honest way he can. His conversation with ESPN was an important first step."

Even though Rodriguez has yet to arrive, the story threatened to overshadow even the reporting of two marquee free agent pitchers on Friday, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. And so many other things are near afterthoughts.

As pitchers and catchers worked out for a second day Sunday, Chien-Ming Wang was back in uniform after missing half a season last year with a broken foot. Catcher Jorge Posada continued his throwing program after playing in a career-low 51 games last season because of a shoulder in need of surgery. Prospect Phil Hughes tried to regain his balance after last year's dismal flop.

And yet, even with little national media presence on Sunday, Girardi fielded nearly as many questions about Rodriguez as anything else following the workout.

"I will be there," Girardi said in response to a query regarding the spring's most anticipated news conference. "I support him. We understand he's going through a difficult time. I supported Andy last year. It's my job."

Girardi also said he thinks the symbolism of teammates attending is important.

"I think it shows the unity of the club," he said. "And I think that's real important. I think it's important for teammates to back teammates, and they're there for each other, and they know during difficult times they can lean on each other.

"Because, you know what? There's going to be something else that comes up this year that's difficult maybe for a player to get through."

Acknowledging that this undoubtedly is an uncomfortable time for Rodriguez -- "I think it probably would be uncomfortable for anyone" -- Girardi said he intends to speak with A-Rod upon the third baseman's arrival in Tampa just to gauge how he's feeling.

The manager also said he expects to monitor A-Rod all season.

"Only time will tell how he's handling it," Girardi said. "It could be that he's managing to handle it great. Who knows where we go from Tuesday. It's something I'll watch carefully."

Former manager Joe Torre, in his book The Yankee Years, noted that Rodriguez was the type of personality that needs constant approval, constant attention, day-to-day.

Asked whether that was his observation during his rookie season at the helm of the Yanks in 2008, Girardi said, "I have no personally felt that way with Alex. All players, including myself, need a pat on the back because it's a game of failure.

"I think all of us need to hear, 'Job well done', whether when you're working from your boss, or a son from a father."

As Girardi said of Tuesday, "It's a start. There are still things he's going to have to deal with during the course of the season, but it's a start. This is another step in a process."

Posted on: February 9, 2009 12:50 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2009 1:21 pm
 

On A-Rod, Schilling and 'roids

Curt Schilling has the right idea when, in the wake of the Alex Rodriguez steroid revelations, he blogs that he'd "be all for the 104 positives being named, and the game moving on."

He's just several years too late.

As Schilling blogs over on 38pitches.com, "In my opinion, if you don't do that, then the other 600-700 players are going to be guilty by association, forever."

That is precisely where the players' union fumbled so badly back in the 1990s and early 2000s:

As Don Fehr, his despicable assistant Gene Orza and the rest of union leadership stonewalled steroid testing because it supposedly violated the players' rights, players who were clean could have -- should have -- banded together and demanded testing.

They should have demanded it for two reasons:

1. What about their rights? There was a distinct competitive disadvantage. Some clean players, who were trying to do it the right way, undoubtedly were losing jobs because they were not using the performance-enhancing drugs that some of their competitors were.

2. As the steroid cloud grew, all players were under its shadow. There has been guilt-by-association now for years.

Schilling was very outspoken on the topic years ago, and good for him. But he did himself  and all clean players a disservice when, in front of Congress in 2005, he said of PEDs, "I think while I agree it's a problem, I think the issue was grossly overstated by some people, including myself."

It's good to see Schilling the author writing on this topic on his blog. I'd love it if his influence -- and that of others -- could convince the union to sign off on releasing the entire list of 104 players who failed the PED tests in 2003 (it'll never, ever happen).

But the greater good of the game could have been served far more if this strong concern for the clean players had been voiced far more vociferously years ago by those rank-and-file union members when they had the chance to do something about it.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com