Dark Day for the Game: A-Rod Used Steroids in 2003, SI Reports

Vincent JacksonCorrespondent IFebruary 7, 2009

The man everyone believed to be the anti-Barry Bonds was supposed to be the man to take over all of baseball's home run records in a clean manner.

Yes, he had his share of controversy and extramarital activities, but Alex Rodriguez was seen as the one man that could never use performance-enhancing drugs and was seen as baseball's guiding light.

All of that changed when Sports Illustrated reported earlier today that the two-time American League MVP and current New York Yankees third baseman was one of 104 names on a list of players who tested positive for anabolic steroids in 2003; Rodriguez took Primobolan and testosterone.

The story comes hot on the heels of an off-season that saw the Yankees spend in abundance of $400 million for pitchers AJ Burnett and CC Sabathia, along with coveted first baseman Mark Teixeira.

Rodriguez, if you remember, signed a 10-year, $252 million contract with the Texas Rangers in 2000 before being traded to New York in 2004. 

The downside to this finding is that Rodriguez CANNOT be prosecuted for such actions, as penalties did not exist in the current labor agreement. 

In an interview on 60 Minutes during his second MVP campaign in 2007, Rodriguez vehemently denied the use of steroids, saying:

"I've never felt overmatched on the baseball field. ... I felt that if I did my work as I've done since I was a rookie back in Seattle, I didn't have a problem competing at any level."

The interview was done just days after the Mitchell Report was made public.

Former Yankee manager Joe Torre, in his new book The Yankee Years, disclosed certain feelings he had towards his former team and the clubhouse culture that had been created since his tenure starting in 1996, when he won his first of four World Series championships.

Torre left New York to manage the Dodgers after the 2007 season.

He also disclosed feelings he had toward Rodriguez when he arrived in the Bronx in 2004, calling him "A-Fraud," citing his obsession with the pressure he puts upon himself to succeed, along with the fans' insatiable need for him to produce in the clutch.

Major League Baseball began its drug policy in 1991 and has changed it twice since. 

The findings on a player of Rodriguez's stature are a huge blow to a sport that has seen many of its heroes fall victim to the black cloud of performance-enhancing drugs.

I have grown up watching the game of baseball.  I played Little League with my younger brother down in Georgia. He was a catcher and I was an outfielder.

Though we have gone on our separate paths, I never stopped following a game that enriches the lives of many, and today's events deeply trouble me.

It is becoming harder for fans to find a player to trust, and now every home run hit will be looked at with doubt.

Every trip around the bases will be looked at with a sense of mistrust.

Players like Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds and now Rodriguez are four of baseball's all-time home run leaders, with Bonds taking over the top spot in 2007 with 756.

With a new Yankee Stadium opening in April, fans are now left scratching their heads, and kids who looked up to No. 13 have questions about how this kind of thing could happen to a man who was their role model.

In the minds of many, Rodriguez would be the last man to do something like this if the findings are indeed true. 

This report cuts a deep wound into America's pastime and now makes an already tumultuous off-season for the Yankees even more eventful.

The Yankees will be the most scrutinized team in baseball this season, and the expectations of getting back to the World Series will add to a pressure-packed atmosphere in the Bronx.

The Bronx Bombers will be under an electron microscope, as every move they make will be picked, prodded, and analyzed.

Even more so, Rodriguez will feel scrutiny like never before.  Each time he steps to the plate, he will hear more boos and catcalls than he has heard in his entire career.

Each time he fails to produce in the clutch, the criticism will be more vicious and ruthless than ever from the fans and the New York media.

Alex Rodriguez added his name to a list of the infamous today, and only time will tell where he and his Hall of Fame legacy goes from here.