Editor’s note: The recent steroid admission by New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez sparked a conversation in the newsroom with sports editor Tracy McDannald, assistant sports editors Danny Lee and Daniel Ramirez and staff writer Matt Moreno. This is the first installment of “Beach Banter.”
Tracy McDannald: I was surprised he admitted so quickly and came forth like he did. He probably looked at guys like Jason Giambi or Andy Pettitte and realized that this is probably the way to get it to disappear as quick as possible … unlike alleged users Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens, who keep denying it.
Daniel Ramirez: Yeah, I agree. This was the way to deal with it — admit it. Apologize. Move on. He took steroids and just as he said, “it was stupid.”
Matt Moreno: To be honest, I thought he was going to fight it until the end. He has a big ego. He definitely has learned from Clemens, Bonds, [Rafael] Palmerio and [Mark] McGwire.
Danny Lee: Those guys pretty much wrecked their Hall of Fame chances by denying the allegations time after time. A-Rod may have salvaged hopes of getting in just by coming clean. Watching McGwire, [Sammy] Sosa and Palmeiro sidestep or lie about the issue in front of Congress a couple years back was a joke. I’m just glad we don’t have to go through that again.
DR: Definitely. It’s pretty deflating, though, because you have arguably the three best players of our generation in Bonds and Clemens — allegedly — and Rodriguez … they all juiced.
MM: His natural size really helped him hide it well unlike Bonds, who came in as a skinny guy with a little head. People were pretty naive to think that a guy could hit 73 home runs. I mean, I guess it’s understandable that A-Rod did it after signing a 10-year, $252 million contract …
DR: Do you think Rodriguez is a Hall of Famer?
TM: You have to put him in. I think you’re going to get to a point where you have to look at guys and look at the era they play in. As much as people want to look at the home run hitters because they’re the most obvious ones, you have to look at pitchers, too. You’re never going to know every single user.
DR: The one thing, though, is how can you trust Rodriguez? OK, so he said he did steroids from 2001-03, but maybe he gave that timeframe because the initial report alleged him taking it in ’03. I mean, he could’ve been “juicing” while in Seattle. I would still put him in but the question mark is up in the air.
MM: He’ll get in. I think the writers will forgive the ‘roid user if he admitted it and then stopped. But he has to continue to show he can produce.
DR: Definitely. The hitter still has to hit the ball over the fence. If you take one of us and give us steroids, we’re not going to hit a 95 mph fastball over the wall. People think that steroids make the ballplayer. The player still has to have the skill and all the intangibles to be great.
TM: And remember, the Hall of Fame isn’t a “hall of saints.” You have womanizers, gamblers; Mike Schmidt admitted to using amphetamines! Seemingly everybody in this baseball era has to be looked at.
DL: I think he’ll get in because voters will be forgiving of him over time. But we also have to re-evaluate criteria for getting in. Five hundred home runs used to be a special milestone that cements a player’s place in the Hall. But in an era where guys are reaching that mark like nothing, I think 600 might be the new 500.
MM: I think it is all the pressure to become the greatest player ever.
TM: Oh, yeah. Bonds was a sure-fire Hall of Famer, Clemens was a Hall of Famer, Rodriguez was a Hall of Famer. But then you have guys like Chuck Knoblauch and guys who aren’t home run hitters. It has to be a confidence booster, too.
MM: But for Bonds and Rodriguez it must have just been for strength. I just want to know the 103 other names on the list [of positive tests in ‘03] …
DL: Exactly. It seems easy to scapegoat A-Rod. Yankee fans do it all the time! I’m not saying he’s blameless in all this, but he shouldn’t be singled out either. We should out all the dopers, so the ones who are clean will not be guilty by association. It would be nice to watch baseball again without feeling skeptical whenever someone has a record-breaking season.