The Yankees tumultuous offseason absorbed its most stunning and potentially destructive blow this morning when SI.com reported that Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids and testosterone in 2003, when he won the American League MVP and led the majors in home runs in his final year as a Texas Ranger.
The uproar caused by Joe Torre’s book was going to be the New York media’s distraction of choice during spring training, but this revelation will surpass that by far – the game’s best player, heretofore a paragon of drug-free excellence, may now (or eventually) stand beside Bonds and Clemens as a man who sullied the sport as a cheat and a fraud.
Despite his size (compare this A-Rod and this A-Rod) and accomplishments, Rodriguez had never been widely suspected as a steroid user, even after Jose Canseco’s accusation. In 2006, The New York Times used as the cover for its baseball preview section a painting of Rodriguez blasting a home run into a light tower whose bulbs spelled “755.” The headline to the accompanying article was “Aaron’s Ultimate Challenger May Be a Natural After All.”
The news could not only affect the Yankees, but also baseball as a whole. Attendance was bound to plummet, anyway, this season because of the nation’s economic woes. There are 104 names on that previously anonymous list of players who tested positive in 2003. Who else could be on it, and what will happen if those names enter the public eye?