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Why A-Rod has been let off the steroids hook but McGwire has not

Jan 29, 2010, 4:15 PM EDT

Bob Klapsich explains why A-Rod has been allowed to moonwalk from his steroids scandal while McGwire keeps getting ripped. As an explanation, I find it to be lacking:

First, he appeared to be more honest than McGwire in revealing the
detail of his cheating. While A-Rod may have fudged some details, he at
least provided the name of a complicit family member, as well as the
exact time frame of his cheating.

Wait, A-Rod gets credit for throwing a family member under the bus? Where I come from that makes things worse. And what
about “the exact time frame” of his cheating stuff?  If I remember
correctly, he took all kinds of flak over the claim that he stopped taking PEDs the moment he donned the pinstripes, as well as for other things.  Klapisch goes on:

Second, A-Rod was able to dodge the backlash by falling off the Yankees’ radar while he underwent hip surgery. Unlike McGwire, who will face
daily scrutiny as the Cardinals’ hitting instructor, Rodriguez was
absent for almost two months during his convalescence. By the time he
returned in May, he’d decided to stop talking – or, if he did agree to
be interviewed, kept his comments short, scripted and, most
importantly, safe.

If McGwire “fell off the radar” like that he’d be excoriated for ducking the media. Oh, wait, he’s already being excoriated for that even though he’s given more interviews that A-Rod ever did following his unmasking.  C’mon Bob, what’s really going on?

It doesn’t hurt, either, that he’s now officially a creature of the
postseason. Those massive home runs off Joe Nathan in the ALDS and
Brian Fuentes in the ALCS led to A-Rod’s breakthrough moment in the
World Series – driving in the go-ahead run in the ninth inning of Game
4 against Brad Lidge.

Ah, there we are.  All it takes to atone for the sin of taking steroids is to hit “massive home runs.” Nope, I see no cognitive dissonance there at all.

Look, I’m not ripping Klapisch here because, unless I’m mistaken, he’s merely explaining why, in the minds of the public, A-Rod is off the hook now, not arguing that he deserves to be off or McGwire deserves to be on or both.  But it’s pretty clear that McGwire is being held to a different standard here, and those who will pass judgment on him are going to do their damnedest to ensure that he cannot win.

  1. David - Jan 29, 2010 at 4:36 PM

    Why not take it one step further and discuss guys even further from the hook like Ortiz (who didn’t admit anything), Manny (who was suspended for PEDs when they WERE banned by baseball) who didn’t say anything, Brian Roberts, Andy Pettitte (“I only took it once, wait you have evidence I took it twice? I only took it twice.) or Tejada or Sosa or any of the hundreds of other guys.
    At least McGwire has an MLB job. Bonds was run right out of baseball!

  2. (Not That) Tom - Jan 29, 2010 at 4:37 PM

    I think it has to do more with ARod already being eminently detestable in the eyes of the media and fans so the steroids accusations are merely piling on the already-seething hatred towards ARod.
    The signal to noise ratio is much lower in regards to ARod than with McGwire. With McGwire it was that, despite being aloof, he was a good guy, one whose word you could rely upon.

  3. Mike - Jan 29, 2010 at 4:38 PM

    I’m not disaggreeing with the post, but I do think it’s worth noting that A-Rod was chastised, and the subject of many jokes, the entire time he “disappeared”. He didn’t become off the hook until he started playing and producing again.

  4. Kaitlin B. - Jan 29, 2010 at 4:45 PM

    Craig,
    Long-time reader here (came over from ShysterBall), first time commenter. I agree with the larger theme but disagree with the specifics of your argument. Alex Rodriguez and Mark McGwire are fundamentally different. Not just in the treatment post-revelation, but in pretty much every way as baseball players. McGwire was a big-slugging 1B with mediocre-average defense. Alex Rodriguez was/is a good fielding SS/3B with every tool in the game. McGwire is not considered a slam-dunk, no-question HoF even without the steroids issue hanging over his head. Alex Rodriguez was considered a first-ballot, no-doubt, you’d-be-crazy-to-exclude-him HoF the moment he played the minimum ten years. Mac broke a “sacred” record; A-Rod is “on pace” to break one, but hasn’t actually achieved anything yet. Everyone loved Mac; no one liked A-Rod. More than that: one is retired and one is an active player. The one thing they had in common in terms of reputation was that they carried the mantel of “saving the game.”
    I just think it’s weird to compare the two. A-Rod did get excoriated. The difference is that it got swallowed up in the thousands of awful things people say about him all the time. No one liked him, not even a crazy portion of fans of his own team. But Mac? The betrayal (if it can even be called that) is on a different level. He was beloved. He was wonderful. He was supposed to have saved the game. He was supposed to be better than that. And admitting it, even though everyone knew it was coming, was tearing away that thin veil of hope altogether. People want more from him because they want the well of their love for him to be filled. It’s irrational, but that’s fandom for you.

  5. RichardInDallas - Jan 29, 2010 at 5:00 PM

    McGwire did his thing in the Heartland, for baseball’s version of America’s Team. He looks a little like Kevin Costner or Dennis Quaid. He could be the brick mason that built your hous. A-Rod, on the other hand, is doing his thing for the Evil Empire, in the sleazebag city of the East. He doesn’t even remotely resemble Kevin Costner, in fact, he might remind you of the sleazeball that sold your grandmother a 15 year old AMC Pacer for five grand more than it was worth. It might just be that what was done was kind of EXPECTED of ARod, but we just can’t come to terms with McGwire being involved….

  6. JohnMcG - Jan 29, 2010 at 5:04 PM

    I think it’s more that we have a post-admission experience with A-Rod, whereas all of our recent experiences with McGwire either have to do with PED’s or are now tainted by the PED admissions.
    We’re willing to forgive, but we need something to latch on to.
    Not sure if his stint as the Cards’ hitting coach will rehabilitate him.

  7. willmose - Jan 29, 2010 at 5:36 PM

    He forgot the big one, A-Rod is a Yankee. If McGwire had been a Yankee only the Babe’s monument in CF would be bigger than his.

  8. David - Jan 29, 2010 at 5:54 PM

    McGwire was a one trick pony. He hit for power and pretty much nothing else. So, if that power came from a pill or a shot, what’s left? A-rod is and has been an elite all around player.

  9. snArky Vaughn - Jan 29, 2010 at 5:59 PM

    I enjoy that there is a percentage of baseball fans that has the following thought process for anything bad that happens in baseball.
    Rules of Blame
    1. If the Yankess are involved, blame the Yankees.
    2. If it has nothing to do with the Yankees, figure out a way to blame them anyway
    3. Rinse.
    4. Repeat.

  10. carson - Jan 29, 2010 at 6:29 PM

    Tejada, Ortiz and Brian Roberts, who are never mentioned in any story about PEDs have been let off the hook.
    A-Rod has not been let off the hook. He has been immortalized in the PEDs dialogue. He will be the name mentioned anytime a PEDs related story is written or talked about.
    A-Rod wrote the script for what McGwire should or shouldn’t do and McGwire went off page.
    Selig saying A-Rod disgraced the game yet embracing McGwire back to the Card’s. Which one sounds more off the hook?
    McGwire just needs to stop talking and other people will too.

  11. len - Jan 29, 2010 at 7:19 PM

    no one likes st louis.

  12. Rod - Jan 29, 2010 at 7:45 PM

    Allye allye Yankees in free.

  13. CharlieH - Jan 29, 2010 at 8:48 PM

    I wouldn’t say A-Rod has been fully honest, the questions just cease to be asked. Or A-Rod won’t discuss the subject. It would seem that Mark McGwire has become the focus of all this attention basically because the media has deemed it that way. There are a lot of steroid users out there that are getting no attention at all. Maybe the sports writers should find some other Roid users to pick on. There may be several that are coaches already but are not as well known. Why is all the negative attention be heaped on Mark and not on those that are still playing.

  14. cheaters justice - Jan 29, 2010 at 8:56 PM

    I don’t think A-Rod has gotten a full pass yet. A-Rod is a good player but how many long standing records has he broken?
    And perhaps A-Rods all around performance is from PEDs-remember PEDs are not just about power it’s about recovery and body repair/building which in turn gives you a sense of energy and alertness since you’re not focusing on how tired or sore you are. Or if you were using PEDs perhaps not being stiff or tired by the end of a road trip your body has recovered and your flexible,agile and energentic simply because you don’t have the recovery time of a non PEDs user.
    I think more will come out on his PEDs use and as he does get closer to any records of signifigance the PEDs questions will resurface.
    When you break a record held by famous MLB icons yeah you are definately going to get more scrutiny.

  15. Yankee Fan - Jan 29, 2010 at 9:21 PM

    Kaitlin,
    I’m a die hard Yankee fans and love A-Rod. Though please do not confuse Mark McGwire and A-Rod.
    Mark McGwire almost single handedly saved the game of baseball, with a little help from Sammy Sosa. Please do not say A-Rod saved the game since he nor anyone else except Mark and Sammy did.

  16. GimmeSomeSteel - Jan 29, 2010 at 9:50 PM

    1. Klapisch writes for a NYC area newspaper.
    2. A-Rod plays for a NY team.
    3. McGwire doesn’t and never did.
    4. The Yankees won the World Series last year.
    5. A-Roid was on that team.
    6. McGwire wasn’t.
    7. Klapisch needs to suck up to the Yankees or find his access to the Yankees severely diminished.
    8. Therefore, he must stick to the Yankee script of “Well, some of our guys did, but either before they were Yankees or just to help them heal.”
    9. Portraying McGwire as some kind of evil menace takes the spotlight off the steroid part of A-Roid’s persona.
    10. Klapisch is a hack who can’t come up with an original column idea.

  17. Nick C - Jan 29, 2010 at 10:02 PM

    Craig – Please keep up the commentary until the hypocrisy stops. Those who say that Arod faced the same reaction that McGwire has are simply misremembering. Arod gave us the bs story about “Bolo” and his cousin and no one went looking for his steroid dealer. The reality is that these “journalists” have nothing better to write about and since McGwire is not an active player they face no backlash or lack of access for taking him to task. If they had something to lose with this nonsense it would never have started.

  18. Mongo - Jan 29, 2010 at 10:30 PM

    You can seriously ask this? Remember when the revelation of A-gods steroid use came out? He ONLY used steroids when he was with the Rangers. As soon as he joined the Yankees, he stopped using steroids, gave up drinking, always finished his milk, and regained his virginity! What a crock!!

  19. Skip - Jan 29, 2010 at 10:39 PM

    Good, bad, and/or indifferent, there are substantial differences between A-Rod and Mark and what they did.
    1. A-Rod did not appear before Congress and try to weasel word his way out. Had Mark been a bit more forthcoming in his testimony, this debate would not be happening.
    2. There was not a long history of suspicion of steroid use by A-Rod. How many reporters have mentioned the bottle of andro in Mark’s locker when he was with St. Louis??? How many reporters have remarked about Mark’s metamorphosis from a skinny First Baseman for Oakland to the Incredible Hulk??? There had been suspicions about McGwire’s steroid usage for years.
    3. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were very rightfully viewed as the saviours of baseball. Their homerun races captivated America and most probably saved baseball. That single fact elevated them above all other baseball players. It also placed them in a position where any, and I mean any, hint or allegation of less than pristine actions would be subjected to electron microscope analysis.
    3. A-Rod plays for the Yankees, McGwire played for the A’s and the Cardinals. T’ain’t fair, but it does help A-Rod that he is a Yankee.
    4. Just as an aside and to cause turmoil, turbulence, and civil unrest, I happen to think that both Mark and Sammy should go into the Hall of Fame. The baseball hierarchy knew what was going on, wanted it to happen, and allowed it to happen. Hell, they damn well encouraged it to happen. Equally significant, the “evidence” would suggest that there were just as many, if not more, pitchers juicing up as there were batters back then. No one has discussed the leveling effects of that fact.
    The Hall most certainly has already ensconced a goodly number of players who used amphetimines and other early PED’s and have done so without a snicker, whimper, whine, or holier than thou protestation from the voters. Either identify these players already voted in who used PED’s and pull them out or admit that the criteria for election to the Hall of Fame is a shifting and highly arbitrary process subject to the whims of public opinion.

  20. Old Gator - Jan 29, 2010 at 11:25 PM

    Maybe if they nailed Big Mac diddling a bevy of strange behind the back of his significant other, whomever she happens to be at the moment, it would take some heat off the steroids thing. It sure worked for A-Rod.

  21. WillD - Jan 30, 2010 at 12:17 AM

    Cheating is still cheating, isn’t it? at least that’s what I though.

  22. yankeh8r - Jan 30, 2010 at 1:00 AM

    ortiz never admitted anything because he was never found to have taken steroids. he was simply on a list that included a few who failed do to a banned substance being in their supplements.

  23. yankeh8r - Jan 30, 2010 at 1:03 AM

    You’re a born sucker if you believe McG is being honest now. or if LaWussa is for that matter. Gwire-boy tossed out a lame confession and then tried to justify why he was using. Canseco may be a jerk but he’s been proven time and time again that he knows what he’s talking about.

  24. Quagmire - Jan 30, 2010 at 1:03 AM

    Giggity!

  25. yankeh8r - Jan 30, 2010 at 1:05 AM

    ortiz took a substance that appeared in daily supplements found not to be steroids.

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