The surprise is minimal—if present at all—that Alex Rodriguez admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs supplied to him by Biogenesis of America founder Anthony Bosch. According to a report by Jay Weaver of The Miami Herald that was published Wednesday morning and cited a Drug Enforcement Administration review of a meeting with the baseball star, Rodriguez made his admissions under the protection of immunity to federal agents and prosecutors last January.
Now, as Rodriguez's time with the New York Yankees and his baseball career overall dwindles to an embarrassing and despicable end, comes whatever fallout is left to fall.
In terms of significance, it will be minimal. Rodriguez was just reinstated by Major League Baseball from a 162-game suspension after the league, spurred by outgoing commissioner Bud Selig's thirst for justice and/or revenge, conducted its own investigation into Biogenesis. So the game, like the law, can no longer touch Rodriguez.
But there is opinion. The ones lobbed by teammates, baseball-playing peers and the public will be front and center all season. Not because Rodriguez used syringes, lozenges or creams laced with banned substances, but because he insulted everyone’s intelligence, which didn't have to be at genius levels to know Rodriguez was a liar all along.
Alex Rodriguez admitting to taking PED's would be like me admitting to hiring Donald to hit Gilmore with the Volkswagen. Common Knowledge.— Shooter McGavin (@ShooterMcGavin_) November 5, 2014
In the same line as Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, when he scolded the media and MLB on a cool Phoenix morning in February of 2012—"The simple truth is that I'm innocent," Braun said then—Rodriguez has denied, denied, denied from the start.
He called baseball's investigation a "witch hunt" and banged on Selig's motives. In a statement released not three weeks before his meeting with federal agents and prosecutors in January, Rodriguez said, "I have been clear that I did not use performance-enhancing substances...and in order to prove it, I will take this fight to federal court."
Lies. But we all knew that. Rodriguez's reputation was already irreparably damaged, so whatever.
We also know that Yankees camp is going to have a colorful tent pitched over it when Rodriguez reports for spring training in a few months. He was already going to be the main attraction, the freak show. The Miami Herald report does not make it any worse than it was already going to be.
What it does do, effectively, is make Rodriguez's return to a clubhouse full of teammates awkward and uncomfortable. And once Rodriguez takes the field or steps into batter's boxes around the country next season, the fans will be visceral. Then again, they were going to be anyway.
As for Rodriguez, a man trying to save his own PED-filled backside, there is undeniable shame. While it probably should have been there before for myriad of reasons, now he can't hide from it even though he will try seemingly without regret.
The shame, though, is inevitable because his value, for his entire life in the spotlight, which dates back to at least high school, has always been linked to his performance on a baseball diamond. No one understands this more than Rodriguez. Stats were—are—his being.
That is why Rodriguez injected, ate and rubbed in those drugs, to make him superhuman. That is why he fought MLB and public opinion, to save his reputation as one of the best ever. His persona made him so self-absorbed that he believed he could deny his way out of the circumstantial evidence, possibly even a secret confession.
He is A-Rod, a once-outstanding and always-image-conscious baseball player. He is A-Rod, a villainous character constantly seeking love, praise and admiration. While we ought to always admit he was once one of his generation's elite hitters, A-Rod will never reclaim that positive attention. Not from teammates, fans or Hall of Fame voters.
Rodriguez's admissions to the DEA cement that fact.
His back was flat against a legal wall. These were the feds Rodriguez was talking to from across a room. This wasn't his outgoing nemesis, Selig. This wasn't a group of Yankees executives or fans hoping and hating.
This was Jonathan Law, with plenty of backup to wave in Rodriguez's normally smug mug. He finally had to come clean. All other avenues were exhausted.
When he spilled, he spilled telling revelations. He told about how to beat MLB's urine tests—give your sample midstream, not from the start or end—and how he tried to facilitate a cover-up by paying cousin and PED liaison Yuri Sucart $900,000 to keep his trap shut.
Now is time for the predictable apology. It is time for Rodriguez to ditch A-Rod, come clean and start his tour of forgiveness, which will be quite the juxtaposition to the Yankees' farewell tours of Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter the last two summers.
When he reports to spring training, Rodriguez has to come clean all over again. He can't "no comment" his way through his first day in camp, and he can't ignore this with a simple statement. He will never again have the admiration he so desired for so many years, but answering as candidly as he can will at least get people to ignore him a little quicker than they might otherwise. The remains of a fire are not nearly as attention-grabbing as the fire itself.
Then, Rodriguez can put on the pinstripes and get back to work with a newfound humbleness and humility. He will look gimpy at third base and running out ground balls and doubles. He will still have a picturesque swing at times, and more often than not, he will look every single bit the chemically damaged 39- and 40-year-old man he will be next season as he starts to collect the remaining $61 million he is owed over the next three years, not counting milestone incentives.
Over those next few summers, the booing will never stop. We will see the lingering hateful signage at visiting ballparks. Rodriguez will smile as he is wont to do, and he will give off an aura of phoniness as he eventually acts as if he never broke the game's rules or made admissions to the feds to save himself from their wrath.
His transgressions will be rehashed when he passes Willie Mays next year and probably Babe Ruth the year after on the all-time home run list.
Then, he will retire under a cloud of judgment, fair or unfair, because we now know more of his truths.
Then, eventually, Alex Rodriguez will be forgotten as much as a man of his accomplishment and ilk can be forgotten.
Then, five years will pass, and Alex Rodriguez will be eligible for the Hall of Fame. Then, we can rehash every bit of his game, drama, cheating and lies.
Oh, the anticipation.
Anthony Witrado covers Major League Baseball for Bleacher Report. He spent the previous three seasons as the national baseball columnist at Sporting News, and four years before that as the Brewers beat writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Follow Anthony on Twitter @awitrado and talk baseball here.