A-Rod now tarnished forever
Alex Rodriguez was supposed to be the guy who saved baseball, the way that Mark McGwire did in 1998. He was supposed to ride in and save the home run record from the clutches of suspected steroid user Barry Bonds. He was supposed to be the guy who would show that clean players could be just as prolific as the cheaters.But that's all changed now, in the aftermath of Saturday's report by SI.com's Selena Roberts and David Epstein that Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003. Rodriguez wouldn't respond to the information in the report, but anything he says really isn't going to change the fact that this will stick to him forever. All McGwire said was that he did not want to talk about the past, and he is essentially persona non grata, and so is Rafael Palmeiro, who wagged a finger at congressmen and insisted that he never used steroids. Roger Clemens is not really wanted at the Astros' spring training home anymore, the way he once was, and he probably will never get in the Hall of Fame, either. Probably, none of them will, including Bonds and Rodriguez. This is a scarlet letter that really will never go away. You can argue reasonably that this scrutiny is unfair, that the context of a positive drug test for A-Rod is lost. The whole sport had done a lousy job, as George Mitchell announced, from the union leaders to management to the clean players themselves. The sport essentially fostered a culture of drug use through its inaction, and many players have said they believe the use of performance-enhancing drugs, especially at the outset of this decade, was rampant. In 2003, the players knew they would be tested for performance-enhancing drugs, and had a pretty good idea of when they would be tested -- and yet presumably, at least 104 barreled ahead and peed into bottles when they knew there was a chance they would be dirty; reportedly, A-Rod was among those. You could call it arrogance, you could call it brazen -- or you could call it typical of the times. A whole lot of players were doing stuff, everybody knew it was going on, and the sport simply hadn't reacted in the way that it should have.