Obama: There Are No Shortcuts

From last night's press conference, at the White House:

Question: What is your reaction to Alex Rodriguez's admission that he used steroids as a member of the Texas Rangers?

The President: I think it's depressing news on top of what's been a flurry of depressing items when it comes to Major League Baseball. And if you're a fan of Major League Baseball, I think it — it tarnishes an entire era to some degree. And it's unfortunate, because I think there are a lot of ballplayers who played it straight. And the thing I'm probably most concerned about is the message that it sends to our kids.

What I'm pleased about is Major League Baseball seems to finally be taking this seriously, to recognize how big of a problem this is for the sport. And that our kids, hopefully, are watching and saying, you know what, there are no shortcuts; that when you try to take shortcuts, you may end up tarnishing your entire career, and that your integrity is not worth it. That's the message I hope is communicated.

That about nails it, and it's a nice signal he's not interested in making the issue into a political soapbox. Okay. Pitchers and catchers report when?

26 comments… add one
  • You’re really stretching on trying to make this whole A-rod issue go away, aren’t you. First you blame the commish (it’s ok, I do too), then you try to deflect to Lance Armstrong, then you suggest that maybe A-Rod should offer to give up all his stats and accolades from ’01-’03, and finally you’re trying to say “Obama say’s its not a big deal, so why don’t we all forget about it???”
    Face the facts, chief, A-Rod cheated. People in the real world who fail drug tests lose their jobs. MLB gives them MVP awards and multi-million dollar contracts. Perhaps if A-Rod (and EVERY other MLB player who tested positive) agreed to donate their entire year’s salary for the years they doped to Drug Education, I’d feel a little better. But until then, screw the MLB and all the players who cheated. It’s a farce of a game anymore, sad to say it.

    Jared February 10, 2009, 11:06 am
  • Jared, John suggested that A-Rod forsake his stats, not YF, who posted about LA and Obama. Please note the difference in author.

    SF February 10, 2009, 11:09 am
  • Donating money would be a nice thing to do. Lord knows that the guys with the big contracts should have some to spare.

    walein February 10, 2009, 11:12 am
  • Going to Harvard Law is a nice shortcut.

    Rob February 10, 2009, 11:18 am
  • A Rod is a cheater, a huge, lying stinking CHEATER. He has lied when asked in the past about it and only admitted it, albeit weakly, when left with no back door to escape. It was also pointed out he was texting with Andy Pettite for tips on how to repair his image with a confession.
    The solution – make him the ultimate example – take away his records, ban him from Major League Baseball and force him to enter a drug rehabilitation program.
    This is only the latest revelatory shameful activity A Rod has done. He has a long history of cheating – on his wife, against other players with dirty play, betraying friends, family and anyone who he feels stands in his way.
    Throw him out of Baseball and the Yankees can donate all of his money to a worthwhile charity. They should be made to pay as well, since they are participants in this shameful situation.

    A Rod - the ultimate cheater (in all ways) February 10, 2009, 11:31 am
  • @SF – missed that, my RSS for some reason just put YF as the author on everything, sorry about that.
    Though my views still stand. And I’m terrified that Papi is on that list.

    Jared February 10, 2009, 11:39 am
  • I don’t know, I would love to see the Yankees given a chance to drop his contract entirely (if they wished). I know the union would never let it happen, but it’s f*cked up.

    Atheose February 10, 2009, 11:43 am
  • ‘They should be made to pay as well, since they are participants in this shameful situation.’
    Don’t stop there! Really who wasn’t a part of this, as you put, shameful, chapter of baseball history? The fans who cheered every home run? The owners of all 30 teams who employed users (often, as pointed out in the case of the Red Sox and SF Giants, knowingly)? The players’ union who fought testing every step of the way until they were basically forced by Congress to submit (and BTW, why did they fight so hard if so many clean players were desperate to clear their names from the cloud of suspicion)?
    And as for the fans and media, this is my take: in the 90’s we turned our heads and told ourselves no one was doing it. After the McGuire Andro thing, we said, “well, some guys are using stuff, but nothing too serious.” After Bonds, Sosa and McGuire, et al were exposed we said, “Well, OK, they’re using steroids, but only a few super-jacked hitters who are ruining the historical records.”
    Then, wouldn’t you know, pitchers, C-List journeymen, and minor leaguers starting testing positive, and we said, “OK, a few superstars and some journeymen/borderline talents trying to hack it used, but most guys are clean.” Then the Mitchell Report comes out and we had to say, “Fine, players on all 30 teams were involved and a big handful of stars, superstars, and HOFers all used. But they’re still a, albeit large, minority ruining the credibility of the game for everyone else.” We poo-poohed the comments of Schilling when he said at least half the league was using (although he oddly backtracked later), and Canseco (the one guy who’s not only forced everyone to finally face the issue, but who been proven right time and again) when he claimed 80 percent.
    It’s time to face facts: there are no innocents here.

    Mark - YF February 10, 2009, 11:56 am
  • Hat Guy makes a great and salient point about baseball and our ‘newfound’ cheaters:
    And the urge to cheat is embedded in baseball, which has celebrated cheaters throughout its history. Heck, the Hall of Fame is full of famous cheating pitchers. Gaylord Perry, the spitball artist, is the most often mentioned, but he’s hardly the only one. Don Sutton was a master of the cut-ball and scuff-ball, and Whitey Ford’s teammates admired him greatly for his ability to throw a ball that had been cut on the buckles of Yogi Berra’s shin guards.
    The game also blithely ignored five decades that were fueled by daily doses of amphetamines, a drug just as illegal to have without a prescription as steroids. But nobody is outraged that such heroes as Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays used uppers. It’s just steroids that we object to.

    So let’s have it, moral high-horsers. Are you ready to kick Whitey Ford, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle and Gaylord Perry out of the Hall too? Take away their Cy Youngs and MVPs? Well?

    AndrewYF February 10, 2009, 12:15 pm
  • If we are unable to differentiate between “scuffing a baseball” cheating and “injecting illegal drugs into one’s system” cheating then there is no hope. The equivalencies are unfair, inaccurate.

    SF February 10, 2009, 12:26 pm
  • Really? Is there evidence that one method gives more of a quantitative edge over the other? What about spitballs sandpaper, resin, sharpened belt buckle, etc.?
    Rob Neyer used to make the same point, pointing out the double standard for pitchers and hitters. His take was that it was unfair that when old-timey pitchers cheated, it was considered eccentric, but when hitters cheated (be it with drugs, corked bats, or whatever), they were pariahs.

    Mark - YF February 10, 2009, 12:35 pm
  • Really? Is there evidence that one method gives more of a quantitative edge over the other? What about spitballs sandpaper, resin, sharpened belt buckle, etc.?
    It’s about method of detection. Vigilant umpiring in the course of the game is a clear corrective on scuffing, resin, etc. Honestly, the reduction of this argument to “all cheating is the same” is ridiculous.
    It’s practically Bushism.

    SF February 10, 2009, 12:48 pm
  • Still, no comment on the amphetamines? What makes Hank Aaron’s record any ‘cleaner’ than Bonds’?

    AndrewYF February 10, 2009, 12:50 pm
  • Yeah, vigilant umpiring worked great against Kenny Rogers in the ’07 playoffs and Mike Scott in ’86. Not to mention Whitey Ford, Joe Nierko, and Gaylord Perry throughout their entire careers…

    Mark - YF February 10, 2009, 12:57 pm
  • Is there evidence that one method gives more of a quantitative edge over the other?
    Well put. If indeed A-Rod is telling the truth about the time frame, it seems he got little to no benefit from the PEDs based on his road stats. The PED Era may owe more to the small parks than to the juiced players. Still, another player will need to make a run at 73 before we can say so with certainty.

    Rob February 10, 2009, 1:20 pm
  • SF’s argument that vigilant umpiring COULD have stopped the cheating and therefore it’s not as bad is as good an argument as saying vigilant drug testing could have stopped the cheating.

    AndrewYF February 10, 2009, 1:21 pm
  • Andrew, I had to read your sentence 5 times to get it right.. haha..
    That said, ARod is probably punished enough. I mean, there were no punishment guidelines, and little (relatively) outcry about it.
    As with every other law/rule enforcement, it’s impossible to eliminate 100% cheating (though on-game stuff might be a lot easier with cameras) so you just got to do the best you can.
    That said, it’s a bit unfair to the current era (though it’s nice to see, just perhaps, that the future generations will be “clean”). People have said for many years that players form 60’s-80’s cheated as well. Go figure.

    Lar February 10, 2009, 2:33 pm
  • Thought experiment: If “Max” had secretly replaced Rodriguez’ PEDs with Folgers crystals or some other placebo, we’d know that Rodriguez received no playing advantage from them (and the numbers don’t strongly imply any), but we’d still consider him a liar and a cheater… because he wanted to cheat.
    I think what this is all about is the ACT of cheating, not the method or the results. We just don’t know enough about the cumulative, quantitative effect of cheating, whether its scuffed balls or HGH. The root of the outrage (in my opinion, anyway, unless I’m totally out of touch) is our natural reaction to others’ desire to cheat, and all the hubris and arrogance that it indicates (or that we infer). I think that’s true whether we’re talking about ballplayers, bankers or Bernie Madoff.
    Not all cheating is the same, yes. Steroids and HGH are causing a more intense reaction than scuffing ever did because they’re more exotic, less understood, and illegal. But the basic element is the same: “I’m breaking the rules and you’re not going to catch me.” The actual results are almost beside the point.

    FenSheaParkway February 10, 2009, 3:03 pm
  • Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the game becoming more clean. It is in fact as clean and legitimate as it’s ever been, which is why it’s so curious that people are just now espousing moral rage against cheating, not only ignoring baseball’s spotty past, but holding it up as a shining example!
    Barry Bonds officially has the baseball home run record. I used to naively think, while not actually caring that much, “Nah, he cheated, it’s still Aaron’s”. But now I know better. It’s Bonds’, and he deserves it just as much as Aaron did. I can only hope fans and writers can get to this point.
    It’s certainly not a good thing A-Rod cheated, but if it takes baseball’s ‘golden boy’ to take a fall in order to bring some BADLY needed perspective to everyone out there, it might just be something baseball needed after all.

    AndrewYF February 10, 2009, 4:50 pm
  • I agree with you on some levels, but I really don’t think A-Rod is the golden boy that will bring perspective, he was pretty universally disliked, even by many of his team’s fans.
    It’s going to take a Jeter or Ortiz to really bring that level of perspective. Players that are liked and respected by most people interested in the game.

    LocklandSF February 10, 2009, 5:08 pm
  • You mean like McGwire once was? I don’t know that there’s any one single player out there who, once found guilty, will snap us out of complacency or into perspective. Any new player who’s added to “the list” will just face a news cycle’s worth of public scorn and join the leper colony.

    FenSheaParkway February 10, 2009, 5:45 pm
  • FSP totally summed up my feelings. I don’t care about the results, only that for 3 seasons ARod cheated and received an unfair advantage.

    Atheose February 10, 2009, 5:48 pm
  • I don’t really disagree with your point FSP, one single player probably won’t snap out the complacency completely, but it’s going to take a more well liked name, reacting basically the same way, for the general public to really admit that the entire era is suspect.

    LocklandSF February 10, 2009, 6:31 pm
  • In other news…
    “The American people need leaders who will focus on stemming job losses and getting credit to flow in the marketplace before hearing from yet another person who cheated both himself and the game of baseball,” said House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform chairman Edolphus Towns, a Democrat from New York.
    Well said, but…
    Isn’t the Federal government spending hundreds of thousands of dollars right now trying to prosecute other men “who cheated both himself and the game of baseball,” as well?

    LocklandSF February 10, 2009, 6:35 pm
  • It’ll take a more well-liked name, but for maximum effect it should come in a pile of 103+ names. Quantity, even more than quality, will convince people that the past 20 years need its own special shelf in Baseball history, just like the pre-Modern Era, the Deadball Era, the pre-Integration Era, the Tall Mound Era, etc… Eventually, we’ll come to understand the rampant use of drugs in Baseball as just another phase in history’s continuum, but that won’t happen as long as people are bent on protecting some players and suspecting others.
    On your other point, Lockland: Can the government suspend an active case? I mean yeah, it looks wasteful to continue the Bonds fiasco but that ball got rolling a long time ago.

    FenSheaParkway February 10, 2009, 8:04 pm
  • I feel that A Rod is an appropriate player to be singled out in this case, because he has been knwn to cheat in many other ways, not just the PED issue. He smacked the ball out of the Red Sox 1st baseman’s glove to ensure he got on base. Last season, he yelled “I got it” to deliberately confuse the Blue Jays players.
    Off the field, he has booked seperate hotel rooms, so he could have sex with his groupie female fans, while fellow teammates knew he regularly cheated on his wife. Add to this his lies about the PED to Katie Couric and others during interviews. A Rod has no honor or integrity.
    These qualities seem to be the reason whoever chose to out him proceeded with the SI public revelation.
    Also, it is probably no mystery that I am a Red Sox fan…LOL

    A Rod - the ultimate cheater (in all ways) February 11, 2009, 1:14 pm

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