Did ARod Save Face Today? An Analysis of the Alex Rodriguez-Peter Gammons ESPN Interview

Alex Rodriguez ESPN Interview Transcript AnalysisBy now I think everyone knows that Alex Rodriguez has admitted to using banned substances between 2001 and 2003 when he was a member of the Texas Rangers.

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 don’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 “steroids” or even performance-enhancing drugs” during the course of the interview. All he says is that he experimented and was negligent in using “banned substances” that are now against baseball rules. I’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 today’s interview, and give him the benefit of the doubt, but how do we know that he’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 Roberts’ purported claims that he took steroids in high school is the “biggest bunch of baloney” he’s ever heard. Hmm…it seems to me like ARod’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 can’t wait to hear her and SI’s response to this. If true, it’s pretty salacious; and you have to reasonably assume it’s true or else ARod has completely lost his mind. I’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.

I’m not sure God really cares one way or another whether ARod got outed for steroids, but I’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 can’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 one’s fault but his, and not throwing the Players Union under the bus for screwing up by not destroying the samples. I’m sure that inside he’s pissed about it, and he probably should not have gone on and on about all the pressure he felt – single mothers raising multiple kids might like to argue about who deals with more pressure – but he didn’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 he’s sorry “if Bill feels that way.” Perhaps someone can enlighten me: who is Bill? Maybe I missed something, but ARod certainly didn’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 don’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 he’s talking out of both sides of his mouth. I thought honesty and integrity where the most important things to his career? That’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 it’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 “New Yorkers can probably relate with that every once in a while”. 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 –- every once in a while of course.

I’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 Canseco’s career and the train wreck that is his personal life, but every new steroid revelation seems to vindicate him more and more. That’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 “for that”. 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 didn’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 didn’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 he’s just doing damage control to keep it from sinking further.

If he really believes the “bunch of baloney” that he’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 wouldn’t also be saying, “I hope that people don’t follow this Selena Roberts lady and take their lead” (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.

Alex Rodriguez ESPN Interview Transcript Analysis

Final Impression

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.

How did Alex Rodiguez's interview with Peter Gammons on ESPN affect your opinion of ARod?

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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.



About Jerod Morris

I love words. I write for Copyblogger and founded MSF, The Assembly Call, & Primility. I practice yoga, eat well, & strive for balance. I love life. Namaste. Say hi on Twitter, Facebook, & G+.

Comments

  1. Tyler George says:

    Great Article.

    After watching it again, you really wish he would have answered the questions fully rather than merely re-reading the script he came up with before the interview. It’s great that he admitted taking something, but it was by no means a full admission. If he’s honest about cleaning up the sport, he’s got to come clean and transparent about everything and he certainly didn’t. He knows who he got the stuff from and he has at least some idea of what he took. That will not be the last time he hears those questions anytime soon, I’m sure he’ll have a date with Katie Couric at some point soon.

    The boo’s are going to knock him out of the sport well before he goes out on his own terms.

    He’s got a long way to go if wants to help out himself, those who look up to him, and the sport of baseball.

    • @Tyler George,

      yeah, to be perfectly honest I just felt like he was being pretty disingenuous with all the stuff he was saying about “helping the kids” and all that. I’m sure there is a part of him that believes that, but I also heard an interview with Dick Vitale yesterday morning in which he said he was so disappointed that ARod had changed over the last few years and was not the same person, nor as involved with things like youth programs as he had been. We all know that Dickie V is prone to hyperbole and dramatics, but the point is noted. The thing is, ARod’s actions moving forward will prove the truth. If he refuses to answer questions or talk openly about his PED use moving forward, then yesterday’s interview was about trying to save face and do damage control, and nothing more.

      If he is genuine, then he will use his situation to shine a light on steroids in baseball that has never been available before — to help clean up any lingering problems, and to set an example for kids.

      We’ll see. It’s too soon judge him on this, but I think you’re right about the booing. He’s already sensitive and can go into mental slumps. His talent will probably allow him to overcome it and put up the #’s, but I doubt he can ever be part of a championship team in New York. Too much pressure, and he won’t be able to escape this story for a long time, if ever.

  2. Well, of course he’s going to be irate at this woman for exposing a positive test that occurred 6 years ago. You’d be pretty pissed if someone brought something up that was 6 years in your past, regardless how bad or illegal it was. It still shouldn’t tarnish his “legacy” or whatever, considering most of the pitchers he faced were roided up at the time as well. We will all remember the ‘steroids era’ as much as the players who were in it. We remember Deacon Jones being the best sack artist in NFL history even though they didn’t tally sacks back then.

    And let’s face reality here, these “journalists” are practically stalkers in these times, that’s how they make their money. Almost all of them. You really believe every denial she’s made? She’s a sports journalist, she makes a living stabbing people in the back. They’re borderline paparazzi.

    I am no A-Rod apologist by any means, but some of you guys are ridiculous. You really expect him to just bend over and take it all? Of course he’s been coached up and going to try to deflect some of the heat. After all, he’s going to be in the public spotlight for another decade or so. Use some common sense here.

    You’re extremely naive if you don’t attribute some of it to the times, or don’t expect him to do so. Friends of mine who’ve been around college baseball tell me how rampant it was… which is far more prevalent than any of you realize.

    Anyhow, I am pleased he admitted to using something, even if he didn’t go into detail. He was still far more open than Giambi and didn’t try to candy coat it like Pettitte did, yet no one talks about either of them much anymore.

    How do we know he’s being honest now? We don’t, but how the hell do we know Albert Pujols isn’t on ‘roids or HGH? Because he hasn’t gotten caught, yet. So while you all label guys like Ryan Howard and Mr. Pujols “clean players” and say A-Fraud is merely sorry for getting caught, just remember, you’re only riding the others and giving them the benefit of the doubt because they haven’t been caught. As of now.

    So take a look in the mirror, you’re judging this guy more than every other person, because of whatever reason. Maybe you don’t like him, maybe you envy him, hell… maybe the Madonna thing freaks you out (it sure freaks me out), but he’s no worse than anyone else in this era. He played on the same, level (albeit juiced) playing field as the others, and he was still better than everyone else.

    • @Ryan E,

      You make some excellent points in your comments. I don’t doubt for one second that the environment and the time were a major reason why ARod ended up taking steroids. I just think he should have focused a little less on counting out his excuses and more on his apology. And as I said in the post, I give him credit for facing the music, and I realize there are probably legal reasons for him not saying more. I just felt, and this was simply my own personal gut reaction while watching, that he was trying to claim he was being totally honest without actually being totally honest.

      There is a time and a place to discuss the allegations he made about Selena Roberts, but I don’t think his initial apology on the matter is the right time. And it makes no sense for him to say that he is happy the truth is out there, and then diss Roberts, when the only reason he is coming out now is because he was backed into a corner. He is being inconsistent. He deserves some credit for speaking out, but only because the bar has been set so low by guys like McGwire, Sosa, Bonds, Clemens, etc, who have either lied endlessly or just stayed quiet.

      I just don’t really see where he has a leg to stand on to blame anybody here. We all know that everyone in baseball was doing it, but it does not make it right. Personally speaking, I would have been much more apt to make ARod’s excuses for him had he simply accepted blame and not tried to subtlely divert attention elsewhere.

    • Tyler George says:

      @Ryan E,

      Alex Rodriguez is the best player in baseball today and has been for the last decade, and whenever he’s up to the plate, you better believe I’m watching every pitch delivered in his direction.

      I think if we step back and try to take our emotions out of the equation, I think we begin to realize that there isn’t much of a way for ARod to escape the critism, the comments, and the boos heading in his direction for the remainder of his career…unless he comes fully clean.

      Am I happy he admitted to using steroids? Yes, ecstatic.

      Do I sympathize that he took steroids under a lot of pressure? Certainly. But isn’t that the same argument given as to why someone would hold up a bank? Or financially fraud investors? They were just under monetary pressures from family, work, and the culture they lived in to produce (in this case obtaining money for everyday needs; in Alex’s case obtaining performance for reputation needs).

      Rodriguez isn’t going to get out of the questioning by sidestepping answers forever if he wants to maintain his reputation (see Mark McGwire). The way that I envision him getting past this mess is to attempt to right the wrong. Truly give back to the kids and community by spreading steroid awareness, whether its through financial means or with his time. Beyond that prove that he’s clean from here on out by giving an unprecedented amount of transparency with his testing results and try to foster a culture of honesty among Major League Baseball’s athletes by having them buy into a similar program.

      Would it cost money? Certainly.

      Would it improve the game of baseball? Yes.

      Would people forgive ARod if he gave an honest effort to clean the game up? I think so and every fan would appreciate the effort.

      He took a good first step, but he has to be open because one way or another the lawyers and the reporters are going to continuously question and even unfairly stalk him until whatever information he is trying to hide inevitably leaks and his reputation takes a permanent hit.

  3. Midnight Writer says:

    Jrod,

    A great analysis of Alex Rodriguez trying to be humble in his admission — but sounding egotistical in that he wanted to make sure he was sorry to his fans and that he wanted to continue being the great player he is.

    It was obvious that he was up all night practicing his lines. And yet, he really blew it by throwing Celina Roberts under the bus and meandering on too long. The more he tried to be sorry and deny any hard feelings about the union, the less believable he was.

    But in A-rod’s defense: Given the environment, knowing you could recover from injuries quicker and perhaps get the edge over a roid enraged fast ball pitcher, I would have done it. And so would anyone who wanted to remain competitive in his field.

    Yes, A-rod should get into the Hall of Fame — as should others of that era as long as there is an explanation about the steroid-use at that time.

    The more interesting story to me as a journalist is, who leaked A-rod’s name and who are the other 103?

    • Tyler George says:

      @Midnight Writer,

      “The more interesting story to me as a journalist is, who leaked A-rod’s name and who are the other 103?”

      Agreed, and I have a feeling we’ll be finding those names out in due time. There are a lot of ball players losing sleep…

  4. Was it just me or did A-Rod look like he was wearing a sweater in a room that had the temperature set at about 83 degrees? The dude looked like he was baking. :)

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