MORRISSEY: Armstrong to A-Rod — another star goes PED supernova
BY RICK MORRISSEY firstname.lastname@example.org August 4, 2013 6:50PM
New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez tosses his bat after striking out to end the sixth inning of Game 4 of the American League division baseball series against the Baltimore Orioles, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Updated: August 5, 2013 11:24AM
Nobody in his right mind would want to be Lance Armstrong. Disgraced and isolated, the cheating former cyclist doesn’t have much to hold on to these days, aside from the shards of a reputation, a few empty blood bags and maybe a sycophant or two.
And yet here we have lawyered-up Alex Rodriguez, deflecting and obfuscating his way along the same cold, barren trail that Armstrong once blazed. Why would anyone go there? Because the two of them are powered by the same need for fame and success.
There’s no other explanation for what Rodriguez has done and continues to do. When you believe that winning is your God-given right, then performance-enhancing drugs are heaven-sent. That’s probably what we’d learn if we could inject Armstrong with truth serum. It’s probably the only thing that hasn’t been injected into his body.
The Yankees and the Rodriguez circus will descend Monday on the Cell. The White Sox will try to forget, futilely, how bad they are. Lucky us. According to multiple reports, Major League Baseball will suspend A-Rod for the rest of this season and all of 2014 for his refusal to answer its questions about past drug use and his role in the Biogenesis scandal, though he can play while he appeals the penalty. The suspension is only draconian if you have a hard time recognizing a snake. Don’t feel too bad if you’re in that category. For the longest time, millions of people thought the way Armstrong slithered could be explained by saddle sores.
MLB reportedly has evidence that Rodriguez used PEDs extensively from 2010 through 2012. The logbooks of Biogenesis’ owner, Anthony Bosch, showed that Rodriguez was using at least 19 different drugs a day. Add to that amazing stew the fact that he refused to answer the league’s questions about Bosch’s clinic, and you have a pretty good idea why commissioner Bud Selig is going all “Law & Order” on the Yankees third baseman.
Four years ago, Rodriguez admitted he had used steroids from 2001 to 2003. Because baseball didn’t test during that period, he walked away unpunished. But given his most recent cannonball into the PED pool, the earlier admission helped fill out the picture of a man who thinks the rules are for somebody else. It surely helped shape the length of the impending suspension.
So here’s a not-so-fond farewell to A-Rod, whose career might be over and whose reputation is ruined. And it’s a crime, really, considering how gifted he was. So silly. So unnecessary.
But fame is a drug, too. From a distance, it sure has looked like Rodriguez was a habitual user of the stuff. Everything about him has always seemed affected, considered in advance, from the way he carries himself to the earnestness with which he answers questions in front of the cameras. He was used to a crowd watching him. He did everything with that in mind. He wanted it. Sammy Sosa was like that. So was Barry Bonds. So was Armstrong.
So here we are, watching another star burning up and collapsing in on itself.
I don’t know if MLB’s drug-testing system works. My guess is that there are lots of players who have moved on to new drugs that can’t be detected. That’s how the progression has always worked in sports.
I do know that Selig has tapped into something very deep in the American conscience. Although many fans are tired of story after story about drug cheating in sports, there are many more who have had it with the superstar athlete, nose up in the air, who believes he’s above everything. No drug can produce that level of haughtiness.
Selig rightly feels he can bring the hammer down on Rodriguez. It’s the same hammer that cycling and anti-doping associations slammed down on Armstrong. And it felt oh-so-good to those of us who had seen him for what he was. The Armstrong-Rodriguez comparison would be complete if A-Rod had an organization that helped “educate’’ people about cancer.
There will be more damage to the wisps of Rodriguez’s reputation if he continues to carry on, Armstrong-like, with his declarations that he has never failed a drug test.
He and his attorneys are looking at this like attorneys would, which might make sense from a legal standpoint but is a disaster in the court of public opinion. After lying for a year, Brewers slugger Ryan Braun finally came clean and took his 65-game punishment. Armstrong took his, um, medicine, too. Smart.
Maybe the two of them found a drug that helps increase intelligence. Care to share with A-Rod?