Paying The Piper

Peter Abraham on A-Rod:

So in a span of less than a year, Rodriguez tore a quad and now needs a hip operation. Can you draw a line from three years of steroids to these injuries? I have no idea, medical experts will have to determine that. But signing this guy to a 10-year contract looks like a decision that will haunt the franchise for years to come. They had a chance to be free of him and they let it pass.

If you look at the guys who are believed to have gone on the juice, there does seem to be a pattern of them being basically indestructible for a few years and then starting to break down, especially if they got clean. We don’t know when A-Rod started using steroids, aside from his own self-serving account that he started in 2003. Travis Nelson notes that A-Rod never had a sudden or unexplained spike in his production as a hitter – he was a huge star, nationally known since high school and slugged .588 in 32 games at AAA as an 18-year-old – and neither has his physical development been anything but smooth. Neither of those facts prove anything other than that we don’t have the kinds of big flashing signs we had with Bonds of a guy doing something unnatural. But if A-Rod was clean before 2003, and if his injuries now are exacerbated by steroid use, then you have to say that he got a terrible deal out of using the roids, as he was arguably no better a ballplayer and no healthier after 2003 than before.
Which might not be the worst lesson for young fans to see.

8 thoughts on “Paying The Piper”

  1. Crank, without attacking the basic premise that guys on roids break down after discontinuing use, I think both Bonds and ARod are lousy examples to prove that point. Both have demonstrated huge durability and huge performance after the periods when testing went into effect. If anything, Bonds lost time in 1999 because he was overdeveloping muscles as a result of roids and tore his arm muscles while weightlifting.
    I think Bret Boone, Caminiti, Canseco, Marcus Giles (some suspected, some not but may have used) have performance/durability histories more in line with your general point.

  2. Yeah, he claimed he was doing it from 2001 to 2003. Which is quite convenient, since it absolves Boras of charges that he sold the Rangers on that huge contract on fraudulent performance, and also absolves ARod of any reasonable likelihood of punishment for doing it after there were real penalties. Of course, it’s also true that players do just get hurt whether they’ve done stuff or not.

  3. I hope he gets healthy so that, if the Yankees make the postseason, they get his two hits in October.

  4. In an interview, Johnny Damon told of the time when 18 year old Damon batted third on a team where 15 year old ARod batted 9th, which tells you how good ARod was then. No shock of course.
    BUT, Damon said it was on that team that he was offered steroids, and turned it down. I know his father came into the discussion, and my memory (probably wrong) was that his dad would have killed him. However, steroids were therefore around then, and I have no problems seeing how an up and coming teenager, probably with a superinflated image of his considerable ability, could feel he could handle what wasn’t known as dangerous. Remember, we were fed for years that cocaine and heroin were the dangers we know them to be. So was ARod on steroids when he broke in? Of course, nobody can ever know, but the question will always hover.
    And please don’t give me the bullshit that players years ago did it for the love of the game. Most of the folks on this board know of Monty Ward, the Brotherhood, the Federal League, all the histories that state otherwise. And does anyone think that the Babe, or Ty Cobb would have even blinked at taking stuff like this? Not when Mays took his famous red juice, and Mickey needed “vitamins” when he got his hip abcess. Rogers Hornsby? Not even a shadow of doubt in my mind.

  5. I rarely utter the phrase “I admire Darryl Strawberry”, but I do think he was honest about the fact that he’d have done steroids if they’d been offered to him when he was a young player. He could, of course, have done them when he was an older, much bigger player, but perhaps he didn’t, as he was dealing with a variety of other issues at the time.

  6. I think people forget that there different levels of steroid use, just as there are different levels of alcohol use. There seems to be a tendency for people to lump together a heavy abuser with someone who may have used them sparingly. The effects on the body wouldn’t be identical.

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