“Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive” - Sir Walter ScottBy now everyone is aware that Alex Rodriguez supposedly tested positive for steroids back in 2003. Here are a couple of thoughts on the subject.
1. I question the timing. Four sources confirmed the story for Sports Illustrated. Four sources! This isn't just one guy who has it out for A-Rod - there were four sources! Who benefits from this information being announced at this time? Barry Bonds certainly benefits as he is both taken out of the spotlight and he is no longer the only bad guy. Having A-Rod named opens a can of double standard worms. Why was Bonds singled out when baseball knew players like A-Rod were testing positive?
2. As much as the announcement may have benefited Barry Bonds - the announcement benefited the owners much more. They just took the highest paid player down a big notch and now any older slugger will be looking at a reduced contract because just the shadow of steroids will deflate the worth of any 30+ slugger. If you think Manny Ramirez' market worth is low now - can you imagine what will happen to his worth is he happens to be named among the 104 players who flunked the steroids test back in 2003?
3. The owners knew what players were on steroids. Remember Rangers owner Tom Hicks saying, "Juan Gonzalez, for $24 million, after he came off steroids probably... we just gave that money away." This is the same Tom Hicks who traded away A-Rod right after he tested positive for steroids in 2003.
4. It's not like the owners and the Commissioner haven't manipulated news about steroids before. Remember how the news about Rafael Palmeiro was delayed until after Ryne Sandberg was inducted into the Hall of Fame? If you think about it - the Commissioners Office was probably well placed to organize the leaking of A-Rod's name. They had both motive and opportunity.
5. Joe Posnanski made a great point (sorry I can't find the link) about how that 104 players who flunked the test in 2003 probably represents a much higher number than the 5-7% we were told it was. Poz notes "There were roughly 432 players who qualified for the batting title, the ERA title or pitched 50 innings of relief" and compares that to "If 104 people tested positive, and it was 5% — that means they tested 2,080 baseball players." Those numbers don't seem to add up - do they?
Oh what a tangled web baseball is weaving regarding steroids.