A few years ago, Barry Bonds walked into the clubhouse for spring training and was confronted with allegations of steroid use.
Bonds denied everything in an effort to protect his legacy.
His plan backfired. No one believed him, and the denials of his use of performance enhancers has actually clouded his career legacy.
Most people view Bonds as a cheater and a liar, and almost no one outside of San Francisco is willing to give him credit for hitting 762 (I had to look that number up) home runs legitimately.
Even the ball he hit out to break the most sacred record in all of sports was trivialized with an asterisk, or almost launched into orbit, or something like that.
Then came Roger Clemens.
He, too, was accused of using performance enhancing drugs, an accusation he vehemently denied. But the evidence was too strong.
Clemens threw everyone he possibly could under the bus, including his wife and his good friend and training buddy, Andy Pettitte.
Bonds is facing federal perjury charges, and it was announced yesterday that Clemens will face charges soon. And all either one of them was trying to do was protect the Hall of Fame legacy they'd already established.
So when Alex Rodriguez admitted to steroid use this week, he was also trying to protect his legacy, but in a different way.
Rodriguez has seen what lying will get him. He has watched as Clemens and Bonds have been paraded in front of federal grand juries.
He saw what happened to Mark McGwire when he went before Congress with his "I'm not here to talk about the past" routine. He saw how Rafael Palmeiro faded into oblivion after testing positive not long after that same congressional hearing, where he denied ever taking steroids.
Rodriguez knows he'll be criticized by fans in visiting parks over this. He knows his numbers will be looked at a little more closely now than during his years in Texas.
But most of all, he knows that by admitting to using performance enhancers, he is in a unique position is baseball.
Rodriguez is one of the best players in the game today, and during his interview with Peter Gammons, he stated that he has played better in the years since he stopped using. His 2007 season stands as one of the greatest statistical seasons in baseball history (.314 avg., 54 HR, 156 RBI).
He can be an advocate for cleaning up baseball. The fact that he had the best year of his career after quitting steroids should say something.
And, if it tarnishes his numbers and casts a shadow over his career, then that's something he knows he'll have to live with. He's still a Hall of Famer who came clean about doing something that seemingly almost everyone else was doing too.
Rodriguez has nine years left in New York, and during that time, he should pass Aaron for the home run record. Add to that all the personnel moves in the Bronx during this offseason, and Rodriguez stands a good chance of winning a few rings.
And he'll be clean through all of it.
The worst thing about the Rodriguez steroid allegations?
Somewhere, Jose Canseco is telling all of us he told us so.
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