Alex Rodriguez’s confession to ESPN on Monday that he used performance-enhancing drugs from 2001 through 2003 sparked reactions of outrage and betrayal across Major League Baseball.
Rodriguez made his admission two days after a Sports Illustrated report citing unnamed sources said he had tested positive for steroids in 2003 during a preliminary testing program that was meant to be anonymous and private.
“I was very stupid for three years,” he said. “If I was a fan of mine I would be really pissed off.”
“A-Rod” apologized to supporters of the Texas Rangers, for whom he played in the doping years before being traded to his current team, the New York Yankees.
“I feel personally betrayed,” Rangers owner Tom Hicks said. “I feel deceived by Alex. He assured me he had too much respect for his own body to do that to himself. I’m shocked.”
Rodriguez, a three-time American League Most Valuable Player, earned the first of those honors in 2003 with the Rangers before moving on to become a star third baseman with the Yankees. He started with Seattle in 1995 and became baseball’s richest player by inking a 10-year deal with Texas worth US$252 million in 2000.
“I’d rather he had one further apology,” Hicks said. “That would be to the owner of the Texas Rangers, who signed him to that contract. Then, I’ll decide whether I want to accept his apology.”
Rodriguez said that he was told by union chief operating officer Gene Orza during the 2004 season that he was on a list of 104 players that might or might not have tested positive, but Orza denied that to the New York Times.
“It makes juicier stuff to suggest there were tip-offs, but there weren’t,” Orza said.
An irked Hicks questioned Rodriguez’s assertion that he was not a dope cheat before 2001 in Texas.
“If he’s now admitting that he started using when he came to the Texas Rangers, why should I believe that it didn’t start before he came to the Texas Rangers?” he said.
A clause in Rodriguez’s 10-year deal worth US$275 million with the Yankees calls for a US$30 million payment to Rodriguez if he breaks Barry Bonds’ home run record.
Rodriguez was once considered the “clean” alternative to replace scandal-linked Bonds in the fabled record spot.
“I’m guessing he’ll allow that money not to be paid, that the Yankees will find a way to get rid of those incentives,” said Michael Cramer, president of the Texas Rangers from 1998 through 2004.
Rodriguez can expect a rude reaction when he travels to opposing ballparks, but it will be how he is treated at the new Yankee Stadium that dictates his fate and future.
“New Yorkers like honesty. They like it when people tell the truth,” Rodriguez said. “Winning is the best medicine. I made a mistake. I was stupid. I was an idiot. I think New Yorkers can relate to that every once in a while.”
Rodriguez said he wants to have the chance to tell youth to avoid becoming dope cheats.
He said his message to children would be: “Work hard. What you have is enough. Believe in yourself. Don’t make the mistake I made.”