02/20/09 10:00 AM EST
Truth shall set baseball free
Game will be better off if more steroid details are made public
Then came A-Rod's 33-minute confession at the New York Yankees' Spring Training camp in Tampa on Tuesday.
There was admission of guilt, of youthful foolishness, of stupidity -- typically self-damage. Yet Rodriguez pleaded that he be judged from this moment on.
That will be difficult.
I have an empty feeling about all this.
I really don't see how the page can be turned. For me, this steroids mess -- with Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, et al -- has left a throbbing hangover that just won't go away.
I'd like to say that my immense passion for baseball will allow me to shrug off the "Steroid Era" and move forward. Or at least put it behind.
That is what Rodriguez and his Yankees teammates want.
But, really, how can you?
At a time when I thought the constant reminder of steroids, in light of all the hard work Commissioner Bud Selig has done to rid baseball of illegal performance-enhancing substances, was diminished, the biggest name in the game enters a guilty plea.
Nagging, unanswered questions persist.
This is more than aggressive reporting, trying to obtain every nugget of information to make the story more complete, if not more compelling.
We'll probably never truthfully know how deep the use of steroids was.
The images of those already outed are forever shattered. They can forget about the Hall of Fame.
A-Rod, of course, is the biggest name, the highest-paid player in the game, once considered the best -- and purest.
What troubles me now is when will the names of others be revealed? Is this going to be a Spring Training, a season, where we're walking on eggs? Will a lesser bombshell drop?
In three of the past five years, Yankees captain Derek Jeter has been asked to react to apologies by a teammate involved with steroids. There was Jason Giambi in 2005, Andy Pettitte in '08 and A-Rod this spring.
That speaks volumes of how treacherous this territory has become.
"One thing that irritates and upsets me a lot is when you hear everybody say it was the 'Steroids Era.' Well, that's not true," Jeter said, sitting in the dugout at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Wednesday. "Everybody wasn't doing it. ... That's the thing that is irritating. It sends the wrong message to the fans and the kids that everybody is doing it, and that's not the truth."
But when the biggest name in the Major Leagues is caught, how can we not wonder who's next?
"I understand there are a lot of big-name players who allegedly have done this and done that, but everybody wasn't doing it," Jeter added.
Maybe not, but even Jeter, by his own admission, wonders.
"I would be lying if I said I never said this guy or that guy was doing it," Jeter said. "Sometimes, after a long home run, you would say it jokingly, not that it was a joking matter."
And we'll always be speculating who's next.
At Tuesday's mass news conference, Rodriguez was asked if he should be considered a cheater. He cleverly tap-danced around the question, essentially saying judge him -- make that decision -- from this day on.
When asked the same question, Jeter said, "I think he cheated himself."
More importantly, A-Rod cheated baseball.
Teammate Johnny Damon echoed a feeling many of us have been repeating.
"With this gift, I don't understand why a gifted athlete would do that to himself, but he had a drive to be better than anybody who played the game," said Damon. "I still think when his career is over, people will put him on that breadth, in that category."
On Thursday, ESPN revealed that the mysterious unnamed "cousin" Rodriguez referred to as the person who obtained steroids in the Dominican Republic for him and injected him was Yuri Sucart. Sucart has been described as a friend and confidant of A-Rod.
There have been reports MLB plans to have its investigators interview Rodriguez and provide even more details on his use of steroids.
I suggest that if Selig doesn't actually conduct the interview, he be present and also demand that Sucart be there.
The Commissioner obviously is in a position to get more answers to questions than reporters have.
Did Sucart have access to the clubhouse? Did any players receive steroids from him?
And what about the years (1994-2000) A-Rod was with the Seattle Mariners? It won't happen, but wouldn't it be nice if a transcript from this meeting were made public?
A-Rod obviously knows much more about steroids, especially in the Texas Rangers' clubhouse during the three years (2001-03) he says he was a user.
The more information that is made public, the better chance we'll have to move forward from this dreadful era.
It's the not knowing that keeps the dark cloud hovering over the game.
Hal Bodley is the senior correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.