|The drama returns
The New York Daily News has Selena Roberts' soon-to-be released Alex Rodriguez book, and is spilling the salacious details this morning. Among them:
That last one isn't a joke. It's really in there.
Which in some ways illustrates my skepticism about the book. Not about the facts as such -- facts have a funny way of proving themselves right or wrong on their own, and once the book is out and A-Rod and his lawyers and publicists have their say, the allegations in this book will take on either an air of credibility or not. Lord knows after Clemens and Bonds and everything else, no steroid-related fact will shock me.
No, my skepticism involves how any ambiguities in the factual record will be spun and how the biographical fill-in will be slanted in order to make A-Rod out as a generally bad person. That's not a skepticism borne of some predisposition to defend A-Rod. I admire his talents, but I'm not a huge fan. Rather, my skepticism is based on experience of reading Roberts' previous work about Rodriguez.
A couple of years ago, Roberts investigated A-Rod's charitable activities and wrote an article about it in the New York Times. The charges: (1) A-Rod owned some low-rent apartment buildings in Tampa and some residents were complaining; and (2) A-Rod's charitable foundation had been surprisingly inactive. While both of these subjects were legitimate topics for discussion, the rhetoric employed and conclusions drawn by Roberts were way over the top, exhibiting an almost naked intent of making Rodriguez out to be a villain. I originally discussed all of that here, and encourage you to read it as a means of preparation for the A-Rod book.
No, Roberts' apparent anti-A-Rod agenda has no bearing on whether what is being reported today is true or not -- like I said, facts are facts (or not) and should be judged on their own merits. But oftentimes it's the subjective judgments and conclusions drawn from these facts that are the lasting legacy of such books. It's one thing to say that A-Rod lied about certain things and broke certain rules. It's another thing to say that he did so because he's an inherently evil or damaged person. I have no problem with the former. Based on her track record, I am extremely skeptical of anything written by Roberts that posits the latter.
The fallout of all of this? My guess is that folks who have hated Rodriguez's act for a long time will likely eat it up. Folks who have come out the strongest against steroids in baseball will have a new cord of wood for the fire as well. Given what has transpired in baseball over the past several years, no serious person will be able to say they were shocked by any of this.
As for those of us who don't live or die by A-Rod or steroid news? If I've learned anything in the post-BALCO world, it's that the game still reigns supreme over all of the garbage that surrounds it. As such, I am quite confident that there will be period of awkwardness and drama surrounding Rodriguez, the length of which will be determined almost solely by how well he hits and how well the Yankees play when he comes back from his injuries. If he hits the ball, this all recedes until it's time to talk about his Hall of Fame case. If he doesn't? Rodriguez continues to be history's greatest monster. Just not for the reasons stated in the Roberts book.