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A-Rod speaks to kids about drug use? Fabulous idea!

Sep 2, 2009, 10:12 AM EST

Class, settle down. We have a guest speaker here today:

New York Yankees’ slugger Alex Rodriguez made an unexpected visit to 500 students at a Baltimore County school to deliver an anti-steroid message Tuesday, months after admitting publicly that he used performance-enhancing drugs earlier in his career.

At the time of his admission, Rodriguez vowed to turn his past transgressions into a positive lesson for young athletes, and he appears to be attempting to uphold that promise by discreetly speaking to select students this season. It’s part of the agreement, however, that the talks not be covered by the news media.

After previously addressing groups in New York City and Texas, he presented his anti-steroids message at Milford Mill Academy on Tuesday, hours before Rodriguez’s Yankees played the Orioles at Camden Yards.

In his speech he said that it felt “pretty darn good and liberating” to finally be telling the truth, and that doing so “is very important to me professionally and spiritually.”

Imagine how good and liberated he’d feel if he told the complete truth:

“Kids, steroid use did no harm to, and probably helped me build a career that will earn me more than a quarter billion dollars. While, occasionally, people write mean things about me, I have suffered zero in the way of actual punishment for it. What’s more, my fame and celebrity now has me bedding Hollywood starlets.

“But totally, dudes, just say no.  Thanks. Are there cookies? I was told there would be cookies.”

Call me crazy, but maybe schools should have people whose lives were actually harmed by drugs to come in and speak to the kids.

  1. themarksmith - Sep 2, 2009 at 10:40 AM

    It’s like the Aesop Fable with the ant and grasshopper. The grasshopper spends all summer doing whatever he wants while the ant collects food for the winter. In the end, it’s supposed to teach children to be diligent and responsible, but all it actually tells them is that they can dick around and expect someone else to clean up their mess. Don’t work hard because you’ll always be bailed out. Just take advantage of other people.

  2. HOTROD - Sep 2, 2009 at 11:24 AM

    WONDERFUL CRAIG, ANOTHER GREAT PIECE OF WRITING.YOU HAVE OUT DONE YOURSELF THIS TIME.I HAVE A FEW QUESTIONS FOR YOU CRAIG, HAVE YOU EVER DONE ANYTHING WRONG ?? HAVE YOU EVER DONATED YOUR VALUABLE TIME TO GO SPEAK WITH KIDS ??? HAVE YOU EVER PLAYED SPORTS WITH THAT WONDERFUL ROUND SHAPE OF YOURS?? HAVE YOU EVER APOLOGIZED AND SEEK FORGIVENESS ??? HUH CRAIG, WHAT IS YOUR STORY ???
    CRAIG , STICK TO THE STUFF YOU KNOW BEST , A-ROD AND KATE HUDSON
    GOSSIP, MAYBE ONE DAY YOU CAN SECURE A JOB WITH THE N Y
    POST.

  3. Grant - Sep 2, 2009 at 11:56 AM

    Funny thing is, sometimes Craig writes book reviews for the Post.

  4. Alex K - Sep 2, 2009 at 12:02 PM

    HOTROD- Are those the requirements to say something snarky?

  5. Stultus Magnus - Sep 2, 2009 at 12:26 PM

    I don’t see what the big deal is here, A-Rod promised to speak out against steroids when he admitted to having used them. So he’s making good on his word. The press wasn’t allowed in, at A-Rod’s request, so it wasn’t some sort of photo-op to be splashed on USA Today’s sports pages.
    Hopefully Craig wasn’t one of the people who was worried about the children when Selena made her information public, then this post would be senseless.
    As far as having somebody who’s been harmed by drugs speak instead, I’m sure kids would rather sit in a room and listen to a famous baseball player than some no-name meth addict without any teeth.
    Call me crazy…

  6. Craig Calcaterra - Sep 2, 2009 at 12:35 PM

    To be clear folks, I have no problem with A-Rod in all of this. He’s doing what people want him to do and what he can. I’m mostly laughing at the organizers of these talks.
    My thing is this: I’m skeptical of “don’t do drugs” talks to begin with, because kids are smarter than we give them credit for. They see the implicit message as well as the explicit ones. They know, as do all of us, that A-Rod has not suffered any adverse consequences from steroids outside of a bit of bad PR (and they may not notice that nearly as much as those of us who read about baseball all day). They know he’s rich, they know he’s famous, they know he’s been considered the best ballplayer in the world, and they know he did steroids. It’s just as easy for a kid to walk away from his talk and say “man, I’d totally risk taking roids if it gave me a better shot at millions” than it is for someone to walk away thinking “yeah, A-Rod is right; don’t make the same mistake he did!”
    Anyone who has read my steroid-related writing knows where I come down here. It’s regrettable that there has been an uneven playing field created, but to me it’s not the gigantic moral issue everyone makes it out to be. I see A-Rod talking to kids and I think “hey, he’s getting some good P.R. The Hooten foundation is getting some good P.R. The school feels better about itself. No real harm here excpet some possibly missed messages, but mostly it’s just silly.”

  7. tom brown - Sep 2, 2009 at 12:41 PM

    Craig,
    If you had exclusive coverage of ARod’s speaking engagement you would have considered him totally redeemed and you wouldn’t have such an obsession over his dating habits.

  8. Stultus Magnus - Sep 2, 2009 at 12:54 PM

    “I see A-Rod talking to kids and I think “hey, he’s getting some good P.R.”
    Well, then there’s nothing he can do in rectifying his errors according to you, he’s just getting good P.R. in your eyes.
    So you might as well save this sentence and fill in the blanks for future posts:
    “I see A-Rod talk to/give money to INSERT SCHOOL/ORGANIZATION and I think ‘hey, he’s getting good P.R.'”

  9. Craig Calcaterra - Sep 2, 2009 at 12:54 PM

    Sorry Tom, that’s not the case. If I had “exclusive coverage” over his speaking engagement, I’d still wrote what I felt about it, even if that cost me “exclusive coverage.” I’m not a P.R. guy. I’m not even a reporter. I write opinion, and it’s not for sale.

  10. Craig Calcaterra - Sep 2, 2009 at 12:58 PM

    Stultus — A-Rod doesn’t owe me anything, and he certainly doesn’t need to “rectify his errors” to my satisfaction. Given that this whole speaking tour came via the good office of Elijah Cummings — the congressman who is the most anti-steroid of all of them, and often dangerously and ignorantly so — I suspect that all of this is a P.R. campaign orchestrated by MLB or A-Rod’s people to get the heat off of him. Just my opinion.

  11. Stultus Magnus - Sep 2, 2009 at 1:17 PM

    Craig, I guess I don’t believe there’s enough heat on A-Rod right now to say he was pressured into doing it or to call it “orchestrated,” other than having a speaking engagement organized. A-Rod’s been under the radar for most of the season, as much as somebody like him can be. He could just as easily have done nothing and gotten as much heat as he’s getting now from you for doing it. There would have been no mass outcry.
    I don’t pretend to think that he doesn’t want to repair his image, but implying what he is doing is pretty much useless when you most likely would have knocked if he were doing absolutely nothing is troubling.
    A-Rod must be on your “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” list. But that’s fair, everybody has a few people that can do nothing right, ever, no matter what. I don’t deny I do.

  12. scatterbrian - Sep 2, 2009 at 1:21 PM

    I think people are missing the point here. A-Rod has benefited financially (and romantically) from using PEDs, and yet his only penance for using them is to tell kids not to use them. He has no basis to say they are bad, other than saying it sucks when you get caught. That’s pretty insulting to kids. Stay home, pretty boy, I’ll talk to my kids about drugs myself, thanks.

  13. dc - Sep 2, 2009 at 1:22 PM

    What would this columnist write if say, Brett Favre or Josh Hamilton spoke to children about the dangers of prescription drug abuse? Would there be the same cynicism and snarkiness? Nope. Despite A Rod’s several failings, both in his public persona, professional results, and personal choices, I can’t help but believe his race/skin color has a lot to do with some of the vicious attacks on him by members of the press, which today is still dominated by white men.
    How about if Jason Giambi were to speak to the same audience, would the same condescending words be used to describe his actions?
    Nope

  14. Craig Calcaterra - Sep 2, 2009 at 1:24 PM

    Stultus —
    I have some people on that kind of list, but A-Rod isn’t one of them. I don’t think he owes anyone an apology or repentance of any kinds. His drug use is not unlike that of 100s of other ballplayers of his time. Maybe the “everyone was doing it” isn’t a valid defense to the charge, but it’s enough of one to me where I don’t feel that he should be singled out to have to do anything special to atone for that which only sportswriters seem to think is a mortal sin.
    In other words, I’d have no problem with A-Rod doing nothing. I’m actually kind of surprised (in a good way) that he’s trying. I just don’t think this particular exercise is worth much of a damn.

  15. Craig Calcaterra - Sep 2, 2009 at 1:32 PM

    DC — I’d say the exact thing about Giambi. Actually, I’d probably be even more hostile if Giambi was doing this. At least A-Rod was considered to be a can’t-miss stud when he was in high school. Giambi was a skinny shortstop prospect who completely, admittedly, transformed himself via PEDs. If there is any player who owes millions and millions of dollars to his PED use, it’s Jason Giambi. As such, him speaking on the evils of drugs would be just as much if not more prolematic than A-Rod doing so.
    Hamilton is a totally different case, drugs almost ruined his career and could have cost him his life, and no matter how much he comes back, his career has been negatively impacted in serious, serious ways. There’s some weight behind his “don’t do drugs” message that just isn’t there with A-Rod or Giambi, who have been total successes, in spite of or perhaps because of drugs.
    But I see you miss my point entirely. I’m not judging A-Rod here. If this makes him feel better for whatever reason, great. Someone, however, most probably the schools running these programs, should probably appreciate the outrageously mixed-message that’s being sent here.

  16. scatterbrian - Sep 2, 2009 at 1:45 PM

    What were the consequences of their drug use? Favre entered the league substance abuse program, but I don’t think he was ever suspended. Hamilton lost about four years of his professional career. Rodriguez had an interview with Peter Gammons. I think Hamilton is definitely qualified to tell kids about the dangers of drug use.
    It’s the consequences that teach people about the dangers of drug abuse. It’s disingenuous to tell someone that something is bad for them if you’ve done the same thing and nothing bad happened to you, and kids will see though it.
    Race has nothing to do with it.

  17. Kramer - Sep 2, 2009 at 1:52 PM

    Isn’t the Milford school where they teach children to be “neither seen nor heard”?
    I think that A-Rod should spend more time there.
    DC – A-Rod’s PED use and Hamilton’s drug use are not even close to the same thing. I’m inclined to listen when Hamilton talks about how drugs ruined his life for a time and almost killed him…BECAUSE THEY DID! A-Rod’s PED’s did nothing but make him more rich and more famous.

  18. mib - Sep 2, 2009 at 2:22 PM

    thats nice craig…is fodder the only thing that comes out of your dumb— mouth or are there more baffling blivits of bull…what is really wrong with you…I’m sure you are the perfect person…maybe we ought to google up some of your past…(yeah I think I’ll do that) the guy admitted he was wrong and made a mistake (propably more than you would have done) and now he’s trying to let young athletes know that it was wrong,and he’s wants to be sure it does not continue. Maybe you should take a shot of steroids in your brain!

  19. Craig Calcaterra - Sep 2, 2009 at 2:32 PM

    Despite the fact that I have clarified the point at least three times in this thread, mib, you continue to miss it. I have no problem with A-Rod wanting to do this. And if he truly and sincerely wants to talk with kids, good for him. I’m happy that he’s out there doing whatever he thinks is a good thing to be doing. I also don’t think that he has done anything all that bad. His PED use was a very minor offense in my mind. It annoys me because of all of the noise it creates regarding records and stuff, but I don’t think A-Rod is bad for having done PEDs. He’s human. And he’s still an amazing ballplayer.
    I think, however, that schools hosting a guy like A-Rod or Giambi or whoever to send the kids an anti-drugs message is profoundly misguided, because the message they send — unwittingly, and only through their example, not their words — is that drug use can work out pretty damn well for a guy, just as it worked out pretty damn well for A-Rod.

  20. Jason B - Sep 2, 2009 at 3:05 PM

    CRAIG YOUR NOTT PURFICT EITHER SUCK IT DOOOD. Sincerely, mouth-breathing poster of the day.
    You and your “baffling blivits of bull…” I have no *idea* what that means but I kinda want to use it as my fantasy football team name.
    Your message is spot-on; A-Rod (and so, so many others) appear to have benefitted hugely from PED use, and have been relatively unscathed, besides people occasionally saying nasty things about them, and iffy Hall-of-Fame status for the few that scaled to those lofty performance heights.
    I don’t argue his willingness to try and make amends, particularly if it’s a genuine effort that he made of his own accord and not of any coersion from MLB or anyone else. A speaking engagement here or there certainly won’t harm anyone or anything. I’m just not sure it will actually help; as you said, kids will probably see through the “do as I say, not as I do” and “I’m really sorry…now that I got caught” routine. Doesn’t disqualify him from speaking out on the issue, but it may be hard to distill something of value from all the readily obvious mixed messages being sent.

  21. Yankee Fan - Sep 2, 2009 at 3:11 PM

    I beg to differ on lumping Giambi in with A-Rod on the PED issues. Giambi suffered physically — a pituitary tumor — as a result of using the PEDs. Therefore, Giambi can tell the whole picture of why it’s dangerous to use them — you may have some success as a result, but you are doing yourself serious physical harm in the process. The fact that A-Rod has not yet suffered any harm from the steroids (of which we’ve been told) makes his story less complete. However, if he has stories of the things he’s seen steroids do to other players, then he might have something useful to impart.

  22. Doracle - Sep 2, 2009 at 3:27 PM

    Ha! — I was waiting for somebody to make the obvious Arrested Development reference.
    And seriously Craig, why don’t you just lay off A-Rod??? Obviously you hate him and are just trying to vilify him for past mistakes, even when he’s trying his best to come clean. I mean, I’ve read your blog and know that you’ve been bashing A-Rod for months now, and are just inventing another pretext to dislike him.
    Wait, what? That wasn’t the point of the post at all? You haven’t spent months vilifying A-Rod?? Maybe I should do more than skim over posts and form an immediate and intense opinion on them (and their writer).

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