Among A-Rod's sins, outing other players is a new low

A-Rod and his inner circle leaked documents about other players with ties to Biogenesis.   (USATSI)
A-Rod and his inner circle leaked documents about other players with ties to Biogenesis. (USATSI)

He always talks about his teammates, his boys, his brothers.

Even as Major League Baseball was turning Alex Rodriguez into baseball's No. 1 steroid villain, A-Rod was still trying to portray himself as baseball's No. 1 teammate. He showed up back in the Yankee clubhouse with hugs. He used all his interviews with all his favored writers to talk about the warmth he felt when he walked into that room.

He was there for them. He was there for all the players in baseball.

That's what he wanted us to believe. That's what he wanted them to believe.

And like so much else about Alex Rodriguez, it's a story that just wasn't true.

We know that now in the wake of a 60 Minutes report that has uncovered evidence that people in A-Rod's inner circle were willing to throw one of those teammates under the steroid bus. We know now that all the way back in the first days of the Biogenesis story that has consumed this baseball summer, A-Rod's people were actively working to blacken names of other players.

Even as he was sending out public statements saying that he had no connection to Tony Bosch and that the documents published by the Miami New Times weren't legitimate, his people were leaking more documents naming Ryan Braun and Francisco Cervelli , Rodriguez's Yankee teammate, to Yahoo! Sports.

It's hard to know how any of this will affect Rodriguez's own case, or the 211-game suspension he has elected to appeal.

It's a lot easier to guess how this will go down in clubhouses around baseball -- and especially in Rodriguez's own Yankee clubhouse.

How would you feel?

Until now, Braun was the guy who had the biggest problem with teammates, and the biggest problem with other players around the game. Braun was the guy who stood up there and tried to play them all for fools, the guy who convinced many of them to believe his lies and come to his defense. He was the guy who made them look bad.

Until now, all they knew about A-Rod was that he had an amazing ability to make himself look bad.

Without a doubt, his reputation among his fellow players had already taken a huge hit. More and more, major-league players see the steroid curse as hurting them, both because they're forced to compete (on the field and for contracts) with players who are cheating, and also because there's now a cloud of suspicion that hangs over everyone in the game.

There are players who believe that the 50-game bans given to most of the players in the Biogenesis case were too light, and some who even thought A-Rod's 211-game suspension was too light.

But MLB's biggest challenge was to prove to everyone that A-Rod was much worse than all the other cheats, so bad that he deserved a ban more than four times as long as most of the others received. His best defense seemed to be the "Why am I so different?" card, one that even the players union seemed to take up on his behalf.

His problem now is that he does look different, and in the worst possible way. He looks like someone so heavily involved that he obtained documents himself, and so self-consumed that he had no problem implicating others.

And he did it within days of the first story connecting him to Biogenesis.

Two weeks ago, in that bizarre news conference in Trenton, Rodriguez threw out some veiled accusations that the Yankees were conspiring with MLB to use this case to get out from under his massive contract. That night, he suggested that his fight against MLB was on behalf of current and future players.

It sounded crazy then. It sounds worse now.

Yeah, Alex Rodriguez cares about those other players. He cares about them so much that he was willing to make sure everyone knew they were cheating, too.

As it turns out, Braun was cheating. Cervelli was, too. Team A-Rod's actions in leaking their names can't turn them into sympathetic figures, because it was their own actions (in buying drugs from Biogenesis) that ultimately got them in trouble.

But the documents published by Yahoo! Sports also implicated Danny Valencia. When the Biogenesis suspensions were announced on Aug. 5, MLB specifically said that it "found no violations" by Valencia.

Now, it turns out, Valencia can thank Alex Rodriguez -- or at least Alex's inner circle -- for his name coming out in the first place.

Last week, after the suspensions were announced and it became clear that A-Rod intended to fight his, a friend of mine suggested that it was a dangerous path to take, because information could come out that would make him look bad.

"At this point, what could make him look any worse?" I asked.

Now we know.

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