I would assume that most people have probably seen the interview with Peter Gammons as well, so a complete summary is not necessary.
Before I get into my analysis, I do want to point out the hilarity of the picture to the left. This was taken on my phone while watching the interview on ESPNews.
Apparently the people at ESPN really wanted everyone to know that ARod had admitted to using steroids. As if watching and listening to the interview wasn’t enough, we have three separate windows on the screen informing us of the breaking news.
ESPN sure knows how to do overkill better than any other network, don’t they?
Anyway, after watching the full length of the interview and reviewing the full transcript at ESPN.com, there are a few excerpts that I donâ€™t think are getting enough attention. Here they are, with my analysis below.
Alex Rodriguez ESPN Interview Transcript Excerpt #1:
PETER GAMMONS: ESPN surveyed a number of doctors and experts in this field, and they said the Primobolan could never be prescribed by a doctor. But it was accessible?
ALEX RODRIGUEZ: First of all, I want to see these tests because I haven’t seen them … I am saying I’m guilty of being naive and not having all the information and being negligent. But I would love to see the tests before I start answering questions that I’ve never even heard before, probably yesterday for the first time.
So, again, I am guilty of being very naive, and I’m deeply sorry for that.
I think it is important to note that Alex Rodriguez never explicitly admits to using â€œsteroidsâ€ or even performance-enhancing drugsâ€ during the course of the interview. All he says is that he experimented and was negligent in using â€œbanned substancesâ€ that are now against baseball rules. Iâ€™ve seen this pointed out on other blogs, and obviously it is a product of ARod being coached up by his lawyers and/or agent before the interview not to admit to anything specific. As a fan, I appreciate his willingness to face the music on national TV with Peter Gammons, but he is most certainly not completely forthright in terms of discussing specifics.
Alex Rodriguez ESPN Interview Transcript Excerpt #2:
PETER GAMMONS: Now, you mentioned the Katie Couric interview. You were asked if you ever used steroids, human growth hormones or other performance-enhancing substances. You said no, flat-out no. In your mind, that wasn’t a lie?
ALEX RODRIGUEZ: At the time, Peter, I wasn’t even being truthful with myself. How am I going to be truthful with Katie or CBS? Today, I’m here to tell the truth, and I feel good about that. I think my fans deserve that. I’m ready to put everything behind me and go play baseball. You know, we have a great team this year. I couldn’t be more excited about the guys that we’ve brought in, Mark Teixeira, A.J. Burnett … It’s an important time in my life to turn the page and focus on what’s next.
PETER GAMMONS: So from 2004 on, you have been completely clean?
ALEX RODRIGUEZ: Yes.
I am glad that he addressed the Couric interview, because he told a bald-faced lie to the nation. Whether or not he knew that he had failed a test, he certainly knew at the time that he had taken PEDs, and he wisely realized there was no way of wriggling out of that one.
The irony of the next question from Gammons though, coming on the heels of explaining his lie to Katie Couric, is just delicious. I really want to believe Alex Rodriguez in todayâ€™s interview, and give him the benefit of the doubt, but how do we know that heâ€™s being truthful with himself, and us, now?
Alex Rodriguez ESPN Interview Transcript Excerpt #3:
PETER GAMMONS: You were tested during the WBC [World Baseball Classic] in 2006, is that correct?
ALEX RODRIGUEZ: Correct. I got tested in 2006. And also this year when I go down to Puerto Rico, I’m sure I’ll get tested again in 2009.
Prior to Texas, I really had — at that time in Seattle, I had never even heard of a player taking a substance, a steroid of any kind in my Seattle days. I mean, I know this lady from Sports Illustrated, Selena Roberts, is trying to throw things out there that in high school I tried steroids. I mean, that’s the biggest bunch of baloney I’ve ever heard in my life.
I mean, what makes me upset is that Sports Illustrated pays this lady, Selena Roberts, to stalk me. This lady has been thrown out of my apartment in New York City. This lady has five days ago just been thrown out of the University of Miami police for trespassing. And four days ago she tried to break into my house where my girls are up there sleeping, and got cited by the Miami Beach police. I have the paper here. This lady is coming out with all these allegations, all these lies because she’s writing an article for Sports Illustrated and she’s coming out with a book in May.
Really respectable journalists are following this lady off the cliff and following her lead. And that, to me, is unfortunate.
This excerpt is one of the most compelling in the entire interview. First, continuing with the irony, ARod says that Selena Robertsâ€™ purported claims that he took steroids in high school is the â€œbiggest bunch of baloneyâ€ heâ€™s ever heard. Hmmâ€¦it seems to me like ARodâ€™s outright lie to Katie Couric on national television was just as big a bunch of baloney, if not moreso, seeing as how we have no way of knowing whether he did in fact take steroids in high school or not.
Then he totally catches me, and probably most everybody else, completely off guard with his accusations against Selena Roberts. I canâ€™t wait to hear her and SIâ€™s response to this. If true, itâ€™s pretty salacious; and you have to reasonably assume itâ€™s true or else ARod has completely lost his mind. Iâ€™m not sure if this was the right forum to present these accusations, and divert the attention from apologizing for his own mistakes, but these claims certainly need to be vetted out in public and will provide even more layers of intrigue to a pretty outrageous story all around.
(Update: Selena Roberts has released a statement categorically denying ARod’s claims that she stalked him, which you can view over at FanHouse, and which I can link you to because Jay Mariotti did not write the article. The FanHouse article also includes some details about the upcoming book that Selena Roberts is writing about ARod — yet another layer to the escalating feud between the two. Thanks to Tim over at MLBTradeRumors for tipping me off to the fact that Roberts had issued a statement.)
Alex Rodriguez ESPN Interview Transcript Excerpt #4:
PETER GAMMONS: A lot has been said about the fact that the union did not get those samples destroyed, which involves over a hundred players. Are you bitter at all that the union didn’t get those tests destroyed?
ALEX RODRIGUEZ: No, I mean, God has done this for a reason. There’s a reason why. I can care less about what the union did. I could care less about what Selena Roberts did. This has to come out. This is very important.
The most important thing for me in my career is to be honest and forthright, to go into my ’09 season as part of the greatest organization in the world, as one of the guys to go out and try to reach our goal.
And when you have that monkey on your back, it’s really hard to be the person that you know you can be. It’s hard to fulfill your potential that way.
Iâ€™m not sure God really cares one way or another whether ARod got outed for steroids, but Iâ€™ll let him go with it if it makes him sleep better at night. His statement here that honesty and integrity are the most important things in his career is downright laughable.
He has been lying, either implicitly or explicitly, for the last six years. Now, when the story goes public and he is backed into a corner, he decides that honesty is the only way. I canâ€™t even take him seriously listening to that statement.
Alex Rodriguez ESPN Interview Transcript Excerpt #5:
ALEX RODRIGUEZ: [at the end of his response to a question about what he learned from watching Andy Pettitte handle a similar situation by publicly coming clean and apologizing]
…You know, one thing I’m learning as I get older, and hopefully a little wiser, is that honesty, the truth will set you free. I’m just proud that I’m here sharing my story. Regardless of what the union — this is no one’s fault. This is my fault. I’m responsible for this. And I’m deeply sorry for that.
ARod does deserve some credit for continuously saying that it is no oneâ€™s fault but his, and not throwing the Players Union under the bus for screwing up by not destroying the samples. Iâ€™m sure that inside heâ€™s pissed about it, and he probably should not have gone on and on about all the pressure he felt â€“ single mothers raising multiple kids might like to argue about who deals with more pressure â€“ but he didnâ€™t blame anyone else when given the chance, only the circumstances and environment.
Alex Rodriguez ESPN Interview Transcript Excerpt #6:
PETER GAMMONS: Everyone cares about what other people think.
ALEX RODRIGUEZ: Uh-huh.
PETER GAMMONS: This weekend, there was a quote — there was an unnamed Yankee front-office official who said his legacy is now gone. There’s a column in the New York Daily News that started out, now it appears he really is A-Fraud, Alex Rodriguez can forget about have been his run at Barry Bonds’ all-time home run record taken seriously and can probably forget about the Hall of Fame, too. What do you say about that?
ALEX RODRIGUEZ: I’m sorry if Bill feels that way. He’s one of the respected journalist I respect in New York. And, again, you know, I feel that — I hope that people don’t follow this Selena Roberts lady and take their lead. I hope they look at this and give it time and realize that this was three years that I’m not proud of, it’s three years I’m going out there, but to really judge me on, you know, prior Texas and post Texas. And that’s all I want.
Also, I have nine years remaining in my career where I can still do some pretty special things, I think.
This excerpt is just curious on many levels. Peter Gammons never names either the Yankee front office official or the New York Daily News writer by name, but ARod starts off by saying heâ€™s sorry â€œif Bill feels that way.â€ Perhaps someone can enlighten me: who is Bill? Maybe I missed something, but ARod certainly didnâ€™t. He either knew who the front office official was or had read the Daily News article. Please leave a note in the comments if I am misinterpreting this.
(Update: Thanks again to Tim over at MLBTradeRumors.com, the best MLB blog out there in my humble opinion, who kindly informed me that the “Bill” in question is Bill Madden of the New York Daily News.)
And what was he getting at by, again, throwing Selena Roberts under the bus? He hopes people donâ€™t follow her lead? I guess if he means trying to break into his house, as he alluded to earlier, I understand. But if he means investigating the truth and reporting it, then heâ€™s talking out of both sides of his mouth. I thought honesty and integrity where the most important things to his career? Thatâ€™s what he said. He seems to be waffling here.
Alex Rodriguez ESPN Interview Transcript Excerpt #7:
PETER GAMMONS: Are you worried at all what it’s going to be like those nine years in New York?
ALEX RODRIGUEZ: Look, I think New Yorkers like honesty. I think they like people that say the truth. I also think they like great players that know how to win. And I think winning’s the ultimate medicine we can take here. If we can win a championship, if we can play well, if we can play well down the stretch, I think New Yorkers love to forgive you.
And right now, I made a mistake. I was stupid. I was an idiot, all these things. And I think New Yorkers can probably relate with that every once in a while. And I think they want to see me, now that I’ve come forward, continue and, like with Andy Pettitte, be a great player again.
This is by far my favorite excerpt in the interview, and itâ€™s even better if you play it live and can see his facial expressions and tone. He describes himself as making a mistake, being stupid, and being an idiot, and then says that â€œNew Yorkers can probably relate with that every once in a whileâ€. And in the interview footage, he kind of smirks as if to say that New Yorkers can relate to being stupid and idiotic because they are too â€“- every once in a while of course.
Iâ€™m not sure how this line will play in New York, but something tells me that tongue-in-cheek digs at the people from the city in which he currently plays, many of whom are ready to boo him at the drop of a hat, is not the best way to garner support from the home fans and rebuild his New York reputation.
Alex Rodriguez ESPN Interview Transcript Excerpt #8:
PETER GAMMONS: Now, Jose Canseco talked a lot in his books about you. He claimed in his last book that he hooked you up with a guy that was very well acquainted with performance-enhancing drugs here in Miami. Is that true?
ALEX RODRIGUEZ: That couldn’t be more false. That’s a hundred percent not true. And, you know, it’s kind of interesting how “SportsCenter” and ESPN still quote this guy. No, it’s a hundred percent false.
Well sadly ARod, Jose Canseco actually has a little more credibility than you do right now. Say what you will about Cansecoâ€™s career and the train wreck that is his personal life, but every new steroid revelation seems to vindicate him more and more. Thatâ€™s why people keep quoting him, and they will as long as his credibility, which respect to steroids at least, remains as strong as it is.
Alex Rodriguez ESPN Interview Transcript Excerpt #9:
PETER GAMMONS: When some young player or some player comes up to you and says, ‘All right, you knew that what you were taking was illegal. Why did you do it?’ How do you answer that?
ALEX RODRIGUEZ: Well, I’ve answered that. I mean, I think it comes back to the culture was much different. It had a lot to do with me being stupid and selfish and naive and just, you know, I got caught up in this ‘everybody’s doing it’ era. So, you know, why not experiment with X, Y or Z?
You know, there’s absolutely no excuses, and I feel deep regret for that.
This excerpt contains perhaps the greatest instance of Freudian truth in the entire interview. ARod says that there are no excuses, and that he feels deep regret â€œfor thatâ€. Deep regret for what ARod? That you cheated and took PEDs or that there are no more excuses, you were outed, and had to come clean? Seeing as how he straight up lied to Katie Couric, and did not come forward until he had no other choice for the sake of his reputation, I think while he probably does legitimately feel bad for cheating, the honest truth is that his biggest regret is that he didnâ€™t get away with it. Call me a pessimist I guess, but if his biggest regret really was that he cheated, why would he wait until now to come forward?
Alex Rodriguez ESPN Interview Transcript Excerpt #10:
PETER GAMMONS: Did you learn anything from the congressional hearings and some of the players with comments who have been in staunch denial? Did you learn from them?
ALEX RODRIGUEZ: You know, again, I don’t like to focus on anybody else but my situation. I think there’s always something to be learned. There’s a lesson to be learned in every situation.
I just know that for me, you know, putting everything out there and being honest was the most important thing.
PETER GAMMONS: Are you concerned that over the next few months this will hurt baseball?
ALEX RODRIGUEZ: Maybe over the next few months it will hurt baseball, but in the long run, I think it will help. I think any time you put the truth out there, I think it’s very painful in the beginning, but I think at the end of the tunnel, there will be light. And, you know, I think the more of that that happens, the more light will be revealed at the end of the tunnel for the game of baseball as well.
This is another point on which I take exception with how ARod conducted his apology.
Throughout the interview he seems to shine of spotlight of altruism on himself like he is making this grand gesture by coming forward. Am I mistaken? Did he have this come-clean interview with Peter Gammons already scheduled before the SI story broke?
No, he didnâ€™t.
Selena Roberts and SI are the ones who brought this story to light, and ARod is doing nothing more than trying to keep his sorry ass a little further away from the fire. His reputation and Hall of Fame candidacy are already sinking, and heâ€™s just doing damage control to keep it from sinking further.
If he really believes the â€œbunch of baloneyâ€ that heâ€™s spouting about the glory of putting the truth out there and the light at the end of the tunnel, and blah blah blah, then he wouldnâ€™t also be saying, â€œI hope that people don’t follow this Selena Roberts lady and take their leadâ€ (from the excerpt above).
Selena Roberts, while apparently overzealous if ARod’s accusations are to be believed, is the one who brought the truth to light. If he were really being genuine about how great it feels to be honest, then I would think he’d stop implying that he is doing some great service to kids and the game of baseball by coming forward. He would instead be commending Selena Roberts for compelling him to do the right thing.
Instead, of course, he spent a good part of the interview disparaging her.
As you can probably tell from the tone of my analysis, I do not consider this interview a “victory” for ARod. Earlier today, Tyler posted some nice commentary regarding what ARod needs to do to “save face” moving forward. I agreed with most of what Tyler said, and personally I don’t think that Alex Rodriguez did or said enough in today’s interview to save any face.
I give him credit for taking questions (albeit pretty softball questions) in front of a national audience, but he made too many excuses, offered up too little detail, and was completely dismissive of the work done by Selena Roberts in finding out the truth. I think that from a damage control perspective, the interview served its basic purpose; but it could have done so much more.
Was anyone else left with a nagging feeling that Alex Rodriguez was not being completely forthright, but just saying the bare minimum to get him through the interview? Yet, he kept saying how good it felt to get the truth out there. I realize there are probably legal concerns and implications, so maybe he was hamstrung by those. Still, after watching that video of him lying to Katie Couric, it’s hard to know whether he should be believed now.
At the end of the day, as I said in my post yesterday, I’ve always had great respect for ARod’s amazing baseball talent but little else. The SI allegations certainly lessened his greatness in my eyes, and today’s interview did nothing to repair my broken view of him as a person or player.
Once again, the biggest storyline heading into this baseball season will be the ARod soap opera in New York. We can only hope that he, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, and the rest of the Yankees flop so that they aren’t a major story come September.