Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The story of three PED users

The A-Rod letter of apology.
Andy Pettitte admitted using performance-enhancing drugs. The Yankees announced this week that they will retire his number and honor him with a plaque in Monument Park.

Jason Giambi admitted using performance-enhancing drugs. When the 44-year-old former MVP announced his retirement this week, there was an outpouring of respect and affection around the game.

Alex Rodriguez on Tuesday released a hand-written letter of apology to "the fans" for "mistakes" that led to his season-long suspension last year. He is drawing near-universal scorn.

There are differences among these three, not least of which is that A-Rod continued to use even after the game's culture shifted. I am much more forgiving of players who used steroids in the heart of the Selig era, when there was no real rule against using and a culture that essentially expected use. That's when Pettitte used. That's when Giambi used.

A-Rod used then too. But he also used after the rules changed.

Does the apology matter? Not to me. Rodriguez is a baffling figure; he had every baseball gift a player could ask for, and it was never enough. I cannot pretend to understand what drove him to use even after it became anathema. Unlike Barry Bonds, Rodriguez seems to want to be liked; he just doesn't know how to get there. I don't think he can get there -- at least, not without opening a vein of humility and detailing not just the what but the why in a way that isn't self-serving and defensive.

He doesn't have to do that, and I don't expect him to. Giambi and Pettitte didn't either, and they still have the admiration around the game -- certainly from the media -- that has eluded Rodriguez for years and probably always will.

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