Is anyone really surprised about yesterday's report that Alex Rodriguez may have tested positive for steroids in 2003? At this point, we have had numerous books, a formal audit report issued by a former United States Senator, all topped off by the baseball record books being ripped up and shredded just like the players of the steroid era.
If you've read Jose Canseco's books, you probably were not all too shocked to hear about A-Rod. The first book, Juiced, was incredible—the second, Vindicated, seemed more about filling up enough printed pages to convince innocent buyers to fork over their money to buy it.
It was in the second book, however, that Jose Canseco informed us of how Alex Rodriguez approached him in the weight room and asked him about steroids, their use, and where he could get them. Once I read that, and considered A-Rod's incredible statistics throughout his career, I needed no further proof.
It seems that other baseball fans are not like me. It seems that many baseball fans are living in denial, committed to believe that the steroid users were in the minority. I, for one, firmly believe that steroid use was—to take a word from Jose Canseco—"rampant."
I think those who weren't taking some form of performance enhancer were in the steep minority. So to hear yesterday's news about Rodriguez, I was not at all surprised, nor did I even truly consider it to be newsworthy.
One final area where I remain frustrated with the general fan's viewpoint of the steroid scandal is with George Mitchell's report. This report, as stated by Mitchell himself on numerous occasions and within the actual report itself, was intended to sample a small sub-set of the baseball population to determine if steroids were being used.
The output of that sampling of a sub-set of the baseball population was then published in the form of a list of names. The list of names, as Mitchell would later allow, was something he went back and forth on many times. Should he print names? It was decided that printing names would have the greatest benefit in terms of deterring others from using steroids.
And that was the purpose of the Mitchell Report. It was an audit report, using a sample of the baseball world, and publishing the results from that sample test to communicate an underlying issue in baseball. Performance enhancement was the name of the game.
It seems that in the time since the Mitchell Report was released, steroid abuse has gone down. If you take a look around at the numbers being put up today, they seem to have deflated back, and have been right-sized.
With that being the case, I am left to sit and wonder what the true purpose of continuing to deliberate on the 2003 steroid test results, and the list of 103 names who tested positive for steroids. Perhaps it will further promote the movement to remove steroids from the game, and if that is the end result, I applaud this action.
I saw a poll on ESPN.com over the weekend which asked fans whether A-Rod should be banned from the game. I was miffed at this, especially when I saw that the majority of respondents had actually voted yes. Are we kidding ourselves here? If we ban A-Rod, we will have to move forward with banning over 50% of the entire league.
So with that said, the one caveat I would put on this list of names, similar to Senator Mitchell's list of names, is that this list is by no means all-inclusive. To not have appeared on this list does not mean the respective player did not use steroids.
This is the area that the general public needs to come to terms with. The reality is that steroid abuse was rampant, and no list of names—no matter how large—will ever identify with 100% certainty who used steroids, and who did not.