A-Rod’s Hail Mary

In an interview with Peter Gammons, Alex Rodriguez told the baseball world just how sorry he was for making the mistake of taking performance enhancing drugs.  Most people on this site immediately thought he was being disingenuous and that there was nothing admirable about his apology.  So while watching the interview I came up with the perfect plan to win back the baseball world, the fans and to get back in the good graces of the hall of fame voters.  If we are to take Alex at his word, he only took PED's during the 2001-2003 seasons.  During that time he piled up 156 home-runs, 395 runs batted in, 569 hits, 44 stolen bases and 249 base on balls.  If Alex really wants to take a stand, here is what he should do: Call up Bud Selig and Major League Baseball and tell them to take away any and all stats he earned during those three seasons.  This also means he'd be stripped of his 2003 Most Valuable Player award as well.  Unfortunately we will never know for sure if those were the only seasons, but it will surely speak volumes about his commitment to making things right.  This is Alex Rodriguez, the ultimate stat and attention whore giving back three seasons of his life to prove his point.  Of course this means he will (most likely) lose his chance to break Barry Bonds home run record, but it may put him back into consideration for induction into the baseball hall of fame.  He may also win back some fans, some respect and make his remaining years in baseball a slightly more tolerable.  In the end that's what it's all about for Alex, being accepted and quite frankly this might be his only shot at that.


55 replies on “A-Rod’s Hail Mary”

He’ll never do that. I wouldn’t if I were him. I do think he should (and in light of what he just “confessed” to, probably eventually will) be voted into the HOF, however.

This is a crazy idea. It’s the definition of “revisionism”, and it flies in the face of recognizing and respecting history, whether that history is painful and debasing. This would be a selfish, egotistical move for Rodriguez. Better that he admits in full disclosure that which he has done then forsake that which he has achieved.
I find this proposal that A-Rod forsake his accomplishments for the record books to be philosophically repellent. We can’t just erase history, however illicit.

A. It will never happen. I don’t expect Alex to do this. This was done for the sake of conversation.
B. The average fan, which you are not SF, no disrespect to the average fan won’t take it that far. They will see this as an effort by Alex to right his wrongs and make amends. Like I said this man cares about attention and public perception more than any player that I can remember. (well maybe not more than Rickey) By doing this he is taking himself out of consideration for the single most glamorous record in all of sports, the HR record. Sure this would be both selfless and self serving at the same time but all in all this could get him back in good graces.
Why is this philosophically repellent? If he cheated during those seasons why should those numbers count? We can’t have it both ways. Either the numbers count and he can be considered for the hall of fame and the HR record OR you have to put an asterisk next to them and say any records are not official and they will not be considered towards HOF contention. Is it better than Barry Bonds sits in limbo while we decide where he belongs and how truthful he was? What about Mark McGwire? This is a way of separating himself from those players. He admitted he was wrong and he did take PED’s and he’d have the stats he earned during those seasons taken away. That’s far more than any player accused of cheating has done.

I respect John’s genuine love of the game and desire to see it renewed, but let me just say I find this idea entirely contrary to the ideas we’ve tried to establish here, and my own beliefs. History is not something you can undo. It is what happened. I think just about every serious scholar believes this to be true. Our job as historians, critics, fans, and bloggers is to write honestly about what we see. But changing outcomes is not a solution.

It may not be the solution YF, but there needs to be one and soon. A generation of players is going to be penalized for playing during this era simply by association. My idea while crazy and somewhat out there is still an idea. Right now we have nothing. Instead we just ignore Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmiero, Roger Clemens, etc…I would rather take a crazy leap like this then to simply pretend those players never existed. I love this game and everything about it, it’s foolish to sit back and hope this will eventually work itself out. I watched MLB network for about an hour last night. Larry Bowa, Jim Kaat, etc…were all interviewed I can’t tell you how many times I heard well maybe in 20 years when it’s his time to go into the hall all will be forgotten. Is that really the best course of action to ignore what happened and hope it goes away? I am in no way trying to insult history or the players that made it. I just want there to be an answer, not constant limbo.

What? That’s a crazy idea. Hasn’t A-Rod finally proven to the world at large that everyone was doing it, and therefore the people who were the best athletes (like A-Rod and Bonds) were at the top? The whole league was doing it. It’s not “oh wipe those stats” it’s “wow he hit like that vs all those jacked up pitchers?” Why is each person whose name comes out trashed in turn instead of the league seen as, for a time, the home to cheaters, just as it was with the spitball and pine tar?
To me the real question is how can MLB let this happen to their product? T.O. comes back from a broken leg in 6 weeks to play the Superbowl and no one says a word. What is it that makes MLB so bad at valuing their players/image, and what makes baseball fans so ready to walk away from years of the game that they love and loved at the time?

I don’t think this will be forgotten. It’s our duty not to forget what happened. As a Jew, we have a lot of experience on this front. But not forgetting is different than retroactively changing outcomes, which is reprehensible. I would again remind you that the record book is merely documents what happened. It is our job as historians to contextualize that book, not change it. And please remember that the book is anything but sacred.

Furthermore every additional player that comes out makes it more likely, in my eyes, that Bonds will one day go into the HoF, because he won’t be seen (with some time) like a cheater, but like the pinnacle of a completely tragic era in baseball.
It’s the same way, in another few years, Rose will go in, because people without any emotional attachment to his “conviction” or “banishment” will be able to look at the case fairly and say “wow what were we thinking, he’s the ALL TIME HITS LEADER.”
When we go back to judging baseball players on their ability to play baseball instead of on honesty and character and likability and salary, both we and baseball will be better off.

It was meant to strike up conversation YF. You are taking it WAY too serious. Comparing the history of baseball to the history of the Jew? Wow. Gentlemen, delete the post if you think it was that offensive. Sometimes you really need to take a step back and lighten up YF, you take yourself way too serious. It’s baseball.

It’s our duty not to forget what happened. As a Jew, we have a lot of experience on this front.
Wow. Just wow.

But not forgetting is different than retroactively changing outcomes, which is reprehensible.
Retroactively stripping players of accomplishments/awards is nothing new in the world of sports.

as a Jew, we have a lot of experience on this front
I think that the point is fair from an historian’s perspective, which is what YF is. He is a professional historian. So in that context the idea that we would deny or erase history is an anathema. The game will only become better, cleaner, more level by remembering these dark moments, not by forgetting and erasing them. In that context I understand what YF was writing, the initial shock of the comment notwithstanding.

In that context I understand what YF was writing, the initial shock of the comment notwithstanding.
There are much, much, much better examples. The role of blacks in baseball, for instance.

The idea that specifically the Jews have experience in not forgetting past events, as opposed to any other ethnic group that has endured hardship in their history (which every one has at one point or another), is arrogant.
I know what you’re trying to say, but it really comes off as arrogant and presumptive.

It’s the same way, in another few years, Rose will go in, because people without any emotional attachment to his “conviction” or “banishment” will be able to look at the case fairly and say “wow what were we thinking, he’s the ALL TIME HITS LEADER.”
Sorry, but Rose remains different. He’s like Shoeless Joe. Both will forever remain on the outside.
Agreed on Bonds and the others. This is the beginning of the tide turning back around. The next 103 names will be as well. A-Rod has completely owns this debate from this point forward and from the mediots. I can’t believe he actually had it in him. He laid out a contrary argument that sticks historically. The only thing that can change that is if he gets caught again.

Rob, I think YF is referring to deniers. If there was a whole school of people who wanted to write a history of baseball (or who have written a published history of baseball) in which blacks weren’t banned but rather never really expressed interest in playing ball, and that there wasn’t any systematic racism, that would be an analogous scenario.
The point is that YF is writing about erasing/rewriting history, and from the perspective of an actual practicing historian. This shouldn’t be dismissed, it’s pertinent to his livelihood and part of his day-to-day being. The idea that history, whether it’s about baseball or about genocide, would be simply eradicated is completely implausible and goes against all intellectual logic and standards.

Right, I can’t understand that sentiment, but surely he chose a very poor example.
Sorry again about the formatting. I’ll stop talking as punishment.

Listen, you guys are taking this way too far. The post was meant to strike up ideas about what can be done to help Alex get back in the good graces of the public. My suggestion was not to erase the crime or to erase that a mistake was made, but rather as a selfless act to prove he was serious about understanding the magnitude of his offense. This was not a post about sweeping it under the rug, that was never my intentions. As for Rob’s comments about not understanding his numbers…I spent about an hour this morning look at his entire career and to be 100% honest I couldn’t find anything that made 2001-2003 stand out. There was never a spike that would make you say Hmmm, this guys juicing. He played in a launching pad in Arlington and put up huge numbers, then came to NY and did the same thing. I understand his numbers, but I also understand what he admitted to yesterday. The reason I said 2001-2003 is because those are the years he is admitting to.
I sincerely cannot believe that this is where this conversation has gone. Historical and ethnic comparisons? This is a baseball blog, lighten up.

If baseball is serious about curbing steroid use, they should implement stiffer penalties than they currently have. Removing certain awards/accomplishments is certainly an idea that, at the very least, should be tossed around. Since it’s difficult to decide where to draw the line, they could look at it on a case-by-case basis. If ARod had not used steroids in 2003 he probably would not have won the MVP award (he beat out Delgado by only 29 points), so maybe they should take it away from him.
Olympians that test positive have their medals stripped. Why should baseball be more lax?

I don’t know why YF is taking all of this to mean “sweeping it under the rug”. If ARod were to offer to have his 2001-2003 numbers removed, that would be a huge statement in the history of the sport. Likewise, stripping him of his MVP award would be an event forever remembered in this game’s history. If either of the above scenarios were to happen, they wouldn’t simply delete that section of history and pretend like it did not happen: they would be writing even more history, to show that they’re willing to take a stand and punish players who cheat.

//Olympians that test positive have their medals stripped. Why should baseball be more lax?
Because baseball is so much more complex than, say, track and field. It’s relatively easy to go back and award a gold medal to the 2nd place finisher in the 50yd sprint, or whatever, but it’s much harder to untangle an individual player’s PED use in baseball… okay, maybe it boosted his HR numbers, but by how much? How many wins did it actually contribute to his team? To a championship?
My inner stat geek wants to think that maybe someday we’ll be able to adjust for PEDs, but on the level of the individual it’s just impossible. I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure who used and who did not, and even if we did it’d be ridiculous to suggest that PEDs had the same effects for everyone who used them.
That said, I think it’d be fair to strip individual awards (like MVP). Beyond that it’s too sketchy to seriously contemplate.

I think SF has defended me ably here, but let me just say that I did not intend the “never forget” reference to be so serious, and certainly not exclusionary, just to illustrate that we don’t need to retroactively alter the books to remember history. It was an obvious analogy, though the circumstances are clearly not comparable.
I have no issue with revoking Alex’s MVP award, just erasing/annotating the official record. But if you want to vacate the award, how do you give it to anyone else, given the pervasiveness of steroids.
Otherwise, I haven’t seen anything to lead me to believe that Alex’s numbers during the years in question were substantially changed by his steroid use, which coincided with his play at baseball’s most notorious hitters ballpark.

“That said, I think it’d be fair to strip individual awards (like MVP). Beyond that it’s too sketchy to seriously contemplate.”
I dont agree Jackie, since there was no comprehensive testing in place at the time in the MLB, its possible, even likely, that you’d be stripping an award from one PED user to simply give it to another. In the olympics, the top 5 finishers are tested, this makes moving everyone up a spot as a result of a late disqualification a more legit prospect.

Perhaps the ONLY mechanism I might favor is the stripping of the award and leaving the year blank. That vacancy in the record books might speak quite loudly, the lack of a winner a testament to the PED Era. And you’d likely have to do it to Bonds, others. The “missing teeth”, as it were, in the Baseball Encyclopedia.
And even then you’d have a hard time convincing me that it should be done. I just don’t like the idea of erasure in this context.
(this is SF, not YF posing as SF)

Career: .306 .389 .578
Home – .361 .439 .677
Away – .276 .359 .567
Home – .323 .403 .700
Away – .277 .381 .547
Home – .314 .407 .621
Away – .282 .384 .577
The effects of steroids ended at Arlington’s city line.

Rob, it is possible that certain drugs allow one’s body to recover more quickly from injury, or allow one to stay stronger over the course of a long schedule despite fatigue and weakness. Really, it could be that the simple fact that Rodriguez (or others) were able to play at a high level for such a long schedule is the end result of drug use, not longer home runs or higher RBI totals.
I think we look too hard at the numbers sometimes. Drugs are used for all sorts of reasons, not just to lengthen taters.

Wouldn’t it be possible for the league to say “You admitted to cheating during 2001-2003, so we’re taking all individual awards you won between 2001-2003 away”? Of course this would have to apply to all other players and not just ARod, but I absolutely have no problem retroactively going back and stripping individual awards. Like SF says that’s probably the only thing you could do; anything further is too broad or too vague.

as an aside, is there any way to change the fact that you need to hit the show more comments link (often multiple times) to get to the bottom of thread each time you reload it. Its manageable for smaller threads but when there are a few hundred comments, as will be come more common when the season starts, it becomes unwieldily…
Sorry to thread jump it just occurred to me to mention

Then the monthly splits should show some effects. I’m not seeing anything. During those years, he had some early and late season troubles. Furthermore, he’s always been consistent and healthy.
The basic difference is that I don’t assume drugs make us better. We live in a drug-addicted culture but face injections don’t make women prettier, longer erections aren’t necessarily better, and even heart disease medication often isn’t necessary if the patient exercised and dieted. He took drugs. The effects are unknown and probably unknowable.

> gotta love “improvements”
I promise you that your authoring crew here at wants to (and will) make _real_ improvements to the interface that is so tedious to all involved. Thank you for your patience.

But how do we know Delgado wasn’t also using? Stripping a player of honors in the wake of a positive drug test can only be justified if all players are tested equally and everyone with a positive test is out of the running. The MVP for that year to Eckstein?

The ultimate solution is to give David Eckstein the MVP award every year from 2001 to 2003. It’s the only way to be sure.

We don’t know that Delgado wasn’t using, but then again he has never tested positive (unless his name was also on that list of 104). I think you still need to operate under the assumption of innocent until proven guilty; if ARod cheated in 2003, and we have no evidence that Delgado did, he deserves the award more than ARod.
I do like the give-it-to-Eckstein idea. Grit > Steroids.

john, for what my opinion is worth, i think you made a good point, and yf and sf overreacted, to put it mildly…it would be a nobel gesture on arod’s part to volunteer to have his records for that period excluded…it’s not ignoring or expunging history as some have suggested…the history happened…those balls went over the wall…there’s video evidence…but, it puts a kind of asterisk [hi roger] on his accomplishments for the prescribed period…is it fair to him?, no…not if the other 103 cheats get to keep their records intact, or the other probably several hundred cheaters went undetected, but oh well, may he saves some face by offering up that olive branch…

it would be a nobel gesture on arod’s part to volunteer to have his records for that period excluded.
Something tells me that A-Rod ain’t winning a Nobel.

“Something tells me that A-Rod ain’t winning a Nobel.”
Kissinger managed to win a Nobel Prize for peace so there’s a chance A-Rod will win one in medicine. You never know.

i’m getting tired of hearing the certainty from people that sox players are involved in doping. who’s been named from the sox? paxton crawford. i’m not saying that this has been exclusively a yankee problem, but more often than not it has been. it seems like yf’s are quick to marginalize the cheating of their players by categorically accusing the whole league as being dirty.
i know, i know, clemens did his in toronto / pettitte did his in houston / giambi did his in oakland / sheffield did his in atlanta / a-rod did his in texas… and so on and so forth. of course it’s just wacky happenstance that they all ended up on the same roster.
i personally still hold onto the belief that the good majority of the league is clean. it may be a naive belief but it seems possible. in 2003, 104 players tested dirty out of the 1,200 possible players. that doesn’t seem like the epidemic that people have made it out to be. i just wish people would focus on the names being named before condemning the entire league to save face for the team they root for.

sf rod
your point seems to be that predominantly Yankees take steroids. Sorry buddy, but the Red Sox are just as deep in this as anyone. Or didn’t you realize that Theo Epstein traded for Eric Gagne, even knowing (or strongly suspecting) he was on the juice? Clearly, from a roster construction standpoint, the Red Sox were not a ‘no-steroids allowed’ team. So I think we can dispense with the “they did it and we didn’t” right away.
Also, just because 103 out of 1200 players tested positive from one random drug test absolutely does not mean there were a maximum of 103 people taking steroids at that time. Also, I believe HGH was undetectable at that time.
You seem to be missing the point. As more and more names come out, it becomes clearer and clearer that this was not just a Yankee thing (which was a very silly thing to say from the get-go), or a Bonds/Clemens/A-Rod thing but a league-wide thing. Assuming your team is clean because only a minor team member was documented as having steroids in 2004 (never mind the fact that he was holding a clinic in the Sox clubhouse on how to inject them) is just as silly as defending your team by saying it’s okay because everyone is doing it. It’s not okay. But it’s not okay for the Yankees just as much as it’s not okay for the Red Sox, or any other team. None of it is okay.
Focusing on the names is a big part of the problem, and is very much why baseball is in this predicament. The mindset that oh, only Bonds was doing it, or oh, only so and so people are doing it, is horribly naive, wrong, and completely beside the salient point, which is that drug use was very clearly widespread. Unfortunately, ‘focusing on the names’ is exactly what baseball has done, and it has only worsened the problem, because it ignores the actual problem.
And, as I keep saying, if we are going to ‘focus on names’, why don’t we start with Hank Aaron, who is a self-admitted user of amphetamines, something which was just as illegal without a prescription as steroids is today. What makes him ‘clean’, and Bonds ‘dirty’? Is it because Bonds is a less likable character? Is it because we fans have had a horrible, horrible lack of perspective for a very long time, and simply went with your proposed strategy of “LOOK OVER THERE, HE’S THE ONE THAT’S CHEATING!”

Its pretty naive to think that the Sox were immune from a problem that has proven to be more and more prevalent with each name that becomes public. Two things that should be kept in mind are first that the names we know about largely come from 2-3 main sources producing clusters of players who inhabited the same clubhouses. Certain teams have remained free of the public stories likely because their “cluster” simply havent been uncovered by the investigations up to this point. While at the same time other groups have been more or less totally uncovered.
Second, each time names come out it becomes more and more clear that the top performers in baseball were heavily involved in PED use. (For example from 1998-2004 of the 14 MVP awards, 4 were won by players not implicated in PED use: Kent, Vlad, Ichiro, and Chipper). The sox had their share of top players during this time, im not saying all of them were users, or even necessarily most, but it takes a pretty huge leap of faith to believe that they were all clean. It would be great for you and the Red Sox if this were true but you are setting yourself up for a huge letdown if you truly believe that the sox teams from the late 90s and early 2000s were totally clean except for Paxton Crawford. (I laughed even typing that sentence.)

I think sf rod is a clear outlier Sox fan here with his attitude towards the Sox. Both Paul and I are pretty clearly expecting some big bad names to drop from not just the 2004 team, but others as well, I think that sentiment has been reflected by FSP and others too. Rod is certainly entitled to his opinion (and to his credit he DOES admit that it remains naive), but I don’t share it. On the other hand, I am not of the mind that we should suddenly blanket the league with homogeneous guilt because of what has happened recently. I was guilty of the throwing the reflexive charge of “everyone did it” out there in a huff this weekend, and it’s a wrongheaded charge. The fact is that every team likely had offenders, and those offenders affected game outcomes (whether due to steroids or not, that’s hard to ascribe). Sox, Yankees, Pirates, it doesn’t matter. They were everywhere, but that doesn’t mean it was everyone.

I think the majority of Sox fans realize that there are most likely names on that list of 104 who played for the Sox; most of the Sox fans on here have said something along the lines of “I want to see the whole list, even though it will most likely have names from the 2004/2007 teams on it.” Sure, most of the names so far have ended up being on the Yankees, but to pretend the Sox are 100% clean is just silly.
Also, fwiw, Brendon Donnelly was in the Mitchell Report also.

You are right, Andrew. There are too many Sox fans (actually, fans of many teams) that are too giddy in pointing the finger at a specific club. At this site, though, we’re mostly in agreement, both SFs and YFs, that this isn’t a very wise way to attack this issue, by uniform. This was a systemic problem.
As I read somewhere else, there are a lot of good reasons to pick on A-Rod if you so choose, and you don’t even need to go near the steroids!

i have to agree sf, while i think a gesture by arod to suggest excluding his records might be noble, he’s not winning any nobel’s…
“…Sure, most of the names so far have ended up being on the Yankees, but to pretend the Sox are 100% clean is just silly….”
agree ath…so far, the biggest source of named perpetrators has been the mitchell report…let’s not forget that the moles providing the information to mitchell had strong yankee/met/new york connections…some spinnerets stretched across the majors, but the base of the web was ny…i expected to see mostly players from ny or with ny ties…it’s also no coincidence that one of the moles offered up information in exchange for a plea bargain…had this guy been a towel boy for seattle, with no ny ties, might we have had a different story, and different distribution of players/teams exposed?…that’s why it would be interesting to at least see the team distribution of the 104 players, if not the actual names…for those of you accusing us yf’s of trying to make ourselves feel better by hoping other teams had similar problems, that works for me…i’d be bummed if all 104 were yankees/former yankees, and slightly less bummed if many other teams were represented…

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