So, there you have it. He’s guilty. Alex Rodriguez used PED’s spanning from 2001-2003. Stupid, naive and “deeply regretful” are some of the many descriptive words uttered from A-roid’s mouth in the exclusive Peter Gammons interview on Monday night. As he told us about how he came to doing it and why he began to do it, we now have to ask ourselves the proverbial question: who’s next?
You, like me at first thought, may be thinking of who the next big name to come out will be according to obvious things such as stats, body growth or even guilt by association. But as I put more thought into who the next “loosey goosey” player is, I found myself looking at the guy who stands only ten feet to the left of A-rod while playing for the Yankees. Yea….that guy—our guy.
What? Is the mere idea of me putting the word “steroids” next to Derek Jeter’s name that appalling? Would you really be that shocked? I mean, really, even now?
Do you really mean the horrible names you just called me? Likely you are telling yourself I’m either 1) a devout Red Sox fan, or 2) not a Yankees fan period. Well you're wrong. I bleed New York Yankees baseball. With that said, I am telling you that one of the names on that list of 104 (now 103) is Derek Jeter.
You are undoubtedly now telling yourself that I’m speaking without any evidence or any measurable facts to prove this theory right. Wrong, again. Understanding now that most likely every Yankees fan stopped reading as soon as I mentioned the name “Jeter”, please fans of the other 29 teams, hear me out on this one, and if you don’t agree with me on this, at least consider the following.
Let’s first begin by saying that just two weeks ago we understood two things. As baseball fans, we understood that Barry Bond’s was guilty of taking PED’s during his career and that A-rod was clean.
In addition to knowing those things, we knew that at various times during A-rod’s career he was questioned and some assumed him guilty by association. Now, two weeks later we know that A-rod (whom we thought to be clean) is guilty of using PED’s as well. With that said, tell me why Derek Jeter can’t be next. Jeter may in fact be what A-rod was just two weeks ago and now A-rod is Bonds.
Let's assume for arguments sake that between 1998 and 2002 steroid use was at it’s highest or at least between that time somewhere. Now, let's consider that Jeter is not some superhero and that he is in fact human just like A-rod, Bonds, myself—or even you. Peer pressure, we have all fallen victim to it at some point in our lives, one way or another.
In a 1999 report by the New York Times, A-rod and Jeter’s relationship was described as follows: “When the Yankees play in Seattle, Derek Jeter usually stays with Alex Rodriguez. And when the Mariners play in New York, Rodriguez usually stays with Jeter.” (New York Times '99)
Many baseball analysts and the like talk nowadays about how all of baseball may in fact be guilty by association. But if we look even deeper at that idea, is Derek Jeter’s relationship during the early stages of their giant contracts not enough to say he might be guilty by association even more then most other players?
I mean these guys were best friends having sleepovers during the peak of the steroid era. You mean to tell me that Jeter wasn’t surrounded by the same “loosey goosey” culture that A-rod was?
Most reading this will say, no way not a chance that Jeter was ever involved in taking PED’s in even the slightest way. And your response to my question of why, will most likely be “because he’s Derek Jeter”. Well, as we have now witnessed with A-rod (the savior of our game and the one who was too return it to its right state) anything is possible and questionable.
Most people will also tell me that unlike A-rod who went from a size 32 to a size 42 uniform in a span of 8 years, Jeter has not substantially grown in terms of body mass at all in that same eight year span. And you might be surprised to know that in fact, Jeter had also grown in terms of body mass, and in fact, Jeter has put on only 5 pounds less then A-rod during his career.
Ok, maybe men grow, I understand that argument. But when a man turns 21, the chances of him gaining 20 pounds of muscle in the next 10 years are slim to none.
Both A-rod and Jeter gained substantial muscle mass since their respective careers began. When Jeter’s career began in 95’ he weighed in at 175 pounds and stood 6’3. In 2003 Jeter weighed 195 pounds and it wasn’t fat. Not even close to fat. A-rod began his career in 94’ at 190 pounds standing 6’3. In 2003 A-rod weighed 220 pounds, and as we now know he was using something to help put the muscle and weight on, something illegal.
So can we say for certain that Jeter didn’t run down to the local GNC and grab some legal substance to promote his muscle and weight gain? No, we can’t say that for sure. However, I found it to be very interesting that Craig Biggio weighed between 185-190 throughout his entire career.
Now, let's talk pressure. A-rod told Peter Gammons that he felt “enormous pressure” for signing the richest contract in baseball history. I bet he did. I mean he was drafted 1st overall in the 1st round in '93 and in 2000 he signs the richest deal in baseball history. So, A-rod is human, he felt the natural pressure that comes with those two things and felt he had to live up to it all.
Not too much time passed before Jeter followed with a big deal of his own. That deal, would end up being the 2nd richest in baseball history at 189 million over 10 years. That’s pressure—similar pressure to A-rod but even more. Why?
Well let’s consider that Jeter not only signed the 2nd richest deal ever but that he too, like A-rod was drafted in the 1st round (1992) and it wasn’t 1st overall, but it was 6th.
And as A-rod was dubbed the savoir of the Seattle Mariners, Jeter too was labeled the next great thing for his team. But no, this team wasn’t the Mariners or even any team close to them in terms of pressure on players. Jeter was drafted by—THE NEW YORK YANKEES.
With that comes the pressure to win, to be great and to be near perfect. Fast forward to 2000 when A-rod was beginning to mull over what he could do to live up to his huge contract and status as greatest player alive.
By this time Jeter had now just won his 4th ring in New York with the Yankees and if you think A-rod was feeling the “pressure” while he hadn’t won even a single ring yet, imagine the enormous amount of pressure and expectations Jeter had upon his shoulders.
That pressure that A-rod felt was felt by Jeter and not even on the same level. Jeter had far more pressure then A-rod ever had even with the extra 60 million on his contract over Jeter. So why wouldn’t Jeter (like A-rod) take part in this “loosey goosey” culture and experiment with PED’s himself? Especially with no penalty.
You will most likely say “ because it’s Jeter, he isn’t A-rod”. That’s not good enough, not even close, because I would’ve said the same thing about A-rod just two weeks ago. This baseball world isn’t normal, not anymore.
I bet your asking yourself “what about the stats though, Jeter isn’t a power hitter, he just isn’t a power guy”. Well, yes your right, he plays within himself. He plays his game and he plays it very well. However, like A-rod, Jeter too has some very suspicious increases in his numbers between 1998-2001.
Between those seasons, Jeter hit 79 homeruns. This coming from a guy who before those four years hit 10 homeruns in each of the two years prior. In 1999 Jeter hit 24 homerun’s. That’s a 15-homerun difference from 1997. Where did those 15 homeruns come from and more importantly where did they go since then? During those same four seasons, Jeter also had a .500 slugging percentage with it going as high as .552 in 1999. That’s a pretty impressive raise from his usual .430 ish slugging percentage.
I’m not saying these numbers from this select period were increased for sure due to his use of PED’s, but as former Tampa Bay Rays Alex Sanchez proved to us in '05, even non-power hitters can benefit or at least think they will benefit from using PED’s.
That’s where my next argument leads me. I can recall my first personal confrontation with PED’s. While I was not offered to take steroids, I was told by a player on my high school team in 2002 that he was using. He was a pitcher, and a rather hefty guy, not too muscular at all. He told me he was being injected and for him, the steroids were more of a psychological factor then strength or power builder.
I think that is the case with most of the 104 players on that list. They felt the psychological advantage of being injected or ingesting something that is supposed to improve their play.
Like A-rod, Jeter too could have fell victim to the “psychological use” of steroids as well. Jeter also like A-rod has never suffered an injury causing him to play in less then 150 games with the exception of a freak shoulder injury in 2003.
Steroids, as previously mentioned, don’t only help with power and strength, but they also increase the healing process and as A-rod pointed out, they can help keep a player on the field for 162 games.
I’m not here to say that Derek Jeter took PED’s in any specific year or that he even took them for sure. Two weeks ago, I was like everyone else, just another naïve die-hard baseball fan. Fast forward to now, I am still the die-hard baseball fan without the naïve aspect.
I will let nothing surprise me in baseball anymore, not even when Derek Jeter is named as one of the 103 players left who took PED’s.