Running Local

This Train of Thought Makes All Stops

With ARod, Nothing Is Ever Simple

Posted by Bob Kohm on February 9, 2009

Unbelievable talent, a huge paycheck, narcissism to spare. It should all be a pretty simple equation, but with Alex Rodriguez it’s the variables that kill you. Unbelievable talent… that seems to evaporate in October. Huge paycheck… tied up in a nasty divorce involving Madonna. Narcissism to spare… confused by his bromance-hate relationship with Derek Jeter.

It’ll drive you nuts.

Even now, with what should be the slam dunk of ARod using steroids, we have a difficult to quantify variable at play– his accuser stands to benefit materially from her accusation, which is supported only by anonymous sources.

Selena Roberts, formerly of the New York Times and currently writing for Sports Illustrated, is in the process of publishing a none-too-complimentary unauthorized biography of Alex Rodriguez. Hit & Run: The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez , described on the publishing-trade site Publisher’s Weekly as “…an expose of A-Rod’s controversial path to self-destruction, is scheduled for release right around Opening Day.

I have no reason to believe that Selena Roberts isn’t on the level, that she doesn’t really have four excellent and bulletproof sources… except that it’s an awfully big coincidence that the biggest story she’s broken in her career happens ten weeks before her first book is released and it happens to be a hatchet job on the guy she’s breaking this story on. There’s every chance that the two are intertwined– while she was researching her extremely negative take on Rodriguez for the book, she undoubtedly deeply researched him and those who were both willing to talk poorly of him and every angle she could find to cast aspersion. Here’s the publicity statement on the book from her publisher:

HIT AND RUN:
The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez

In this extraordinary book, senior Sports Illustrated writer Selena Roberts will deliver an intimate narrative on how New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez, the richest and perhaps most talented player in baseball, is on the verge of a personal and professional collapse so profound it would rate as one of the most dramatic falls in major league history.

Through exhaustive reporting and interviews, Roberts will detail A-Rod as a plunge-in-progress, a once-in-a-generation baseball talent tortured by an internal struggle between the polished family man he wants to be and the unabashed hedonist he has become.

The storyline will include his dalliances with strippers, infatuation with Madonna, details of his record-breaking $315-million contract, shady real estate empire and further evidence of steroid use, but will also tunnel deeper into his behavior.

Roberts will reveal the root of Alex’s identity crisis—the night his father abandoned him—and, in so doing, answer the question: who is the real A-Rod?

HIT AND RUN will reveal:
• Details about his close association with a known steroid dealer and new evidence of his use of anabolic steroids and testosterone in 2003, his MVP season with the Texas Rangers.

• A-Rod fired a member of his domestic staff for drawing horns on a photo of Madonna.

• A-Rod always uses the same pickup line on women: “Who’s hotter, me or Derek Jeter?”

• The nasty nickname that A-Rod was called by his teammates in the clubhouse (and it’s a lot worse than A-Fraud).

• A-Rod compares himself to Joe DiMaggio, telling friends that Madonna was his Marilyn Monroe.

• A-Rod speaks to a motivational guru before each game; in 2008 he cut off his family and friends to devote himself to Kabbalah.

Selena Roberts, a former sports columnist for the New York Times, is a senior writer for Sports Illustrated

That sounds even handed to me and smacks of journalistic credibility, doesn’t it?

Everyone in the baseball industry knew that Ms. Roberts was working on this book– to compile the information she claims to have  generated she would have had to have talked to hundreds of sources. She’s obviously talked to team mates and former team mates of Rodriguez, friends and foes, ex-girlfriends and dalliances, etc. She also says she talked to four people with knowledge of a sealed document who haven’t said a word in five years about what is contained in that document and who chose to disclose only that portion which dealt with Rodriguez.

The document that Roberts is claiming has generated this blow up is a 2003 confidential report on performance enhancing drugs in baseball conducted by the Player’s Union to determine if there was a steroid problem in baseball at all. One hundred and three players tested positive for banned performance enhancers, but there was no specific rule banning usage in baseball at that point and thus no penalties attached; the report was sealed and was to be held anonymously, as it has been for five years now… despite the fact that ARod was allegedly in it, despite the fact that coming out with that news during the 2007 post-season controversy over ARod’s opting out of his Yankee contract would have been much larger than it coming out know will be, despite the strong possibility of people like Roger Clemens or Albert Pujols being on that list. Now, not one but four people confirm to a reporter not only that ARod tested positive in 2003 but that a union official tipped him off to a test in 2004… yeah, it could happen. How lucky for Ms. Roberts that it happened now, when she can make a personal fortune off of it, when SI and her editors can benefit from the prestige of having the reporter who broke the ARod story and literally wrote the book on it on staff.

I have always been a defender of anonymous sources in reportage– I’ve worked around reporters and believe most of them to be honorable and extraordinarily devoted to the canon of journalistic ethics. I’m also not a fool and have had my fair share of professional experience with reporters– when there’s a question of dramatic personal gain and the story contains a substantial surprise that facilitates that personal gain, you have to ask some questions. The problem is that the answers are almost impossible to arrive at; there is no way that Roberts will ever reveal her anonymous sources, so there is no way to evaluate their veracity. It’s catch-22.

So, as always with Rodriguez, there’s a swirl of something around what should be a simple sight. Given Rodriguez’, well, flapability, this is sure to have an impact on a player who in the past has worn his emotions on his jersey’s sleeve. For  sake of finding the truth, the best outcome would be an admission and sincere apology from Rodriguez; that’s also the least likely outcome once the attorneys and Rodriguez’ ego become involved and also because it’s possible that this story is untrue, that the reporter either was too willing to believe sources that told her what she wanted to hear or she has fabricated some part of the story or some of the anonymous sources.

Nothing is ever simple with ARod. Nothing.

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8 Responses to “With ARod, Nothing Is Ever Simple”

  1. Bob – that pub statement is written by a publicist whose sole purpose is to generate buzz for the book. People aren’t interested in the boring minutiae of A-Rod’s day to day baseball life – they want the slime! Look at how well Canseco’s book sold when everyone thought he was lying about the entire thing. The fact that Canseco’s “Juiced” book currently sits #6 on the Amazon’s best selling baseball books while “Game of Shadows” sits 30th tells you where America’s interest lie.

    Roberts breaking this kind of story could not be easy. She’s not going to give the story over to someone else just because the timing of her book coming out is awful. Secondly, you always want to be first with a story like this as it is a career maker or a career breaker. I had no idea who Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams were before their investigative work into BALCO, but I know their names now. I also know Jayson Blair’s name but even he didn’t break a story on this level. If Roberts is jumping a gun to promote her book, that book will be the last piece of print literature we see from her. While the print business is in trouble, I don’t think anyone is out to commit career suicide like that just for the sake of a career change.

  2. B-Fly said

    “Given Rodriguez’, well, flapability, this is sure to have an impact on a player who in the past has worn his emotions on his jersey’s sleeve. For sake of finding the truth, the best outcome would be an admission and sincere apology from Rodriguez; that’s also the least likely outcome once the attorneys and Rodriguez’ ego become involved and also because it’s possible that this story is untrue, that the reporter either was too willing to believe sources that told her what she wanted to hear or she has fabricated some part of the story or some of the anonymous sources.”

    Bob – that may be the best outcome for the sake of finding the truth, but the best outcome in my mind for A-Rod the baseball player would be for him to finally give up on his desperate need to be loved and to take a more Bondsian/Sheffieldian approach to the fans and the game. In WWE terms, he should embrace his “heel turn” and just be the supervillian that everyone loves to hate and let his performance be fueled by that hate. As a guy who has always loved baseball’s villains – Albert Belle, Barry Bonds and Gary Sheffield are among my favorite players ever because they played with such delicious malice toward the media and the fans – I’d love to see it out of A-Rod. :o)

  3. Bob Kohm said

    Jason…

    It’s only career suicide if she’s caught at it, Jason, and it isn’t even career suicide if she’s eventually proven wrong when the list comes out during the Bonds trial– if he’s on it she’s vindicated, if he’s not she was duped by bad sources. It’s a no lose for Roberts if this story is either poorly sources, deceptively sourced or not sourced at all– there’s no way to prove she’s done wrong, if she has. At worst she was overeager to believe sources that even her editors signed off on, and the world ignores that the editor’s had a motivation to sign off on them, as well. She’s either got a great story or the perfect crime. We’ll likely never know which.

  4. Bob Kohm said

    B-Fly, sure if he had the capacity to do that. I don’t think he does– his inability to step away from his image seems to me too consuming to court the bad guy role. It makes sense for him to do so– even before the Roberts story it was the role he had written for himself– but actually do it? I doubt it, but we’ll see.

  5. […] Roberts question | River Avenue Blues VIDEO: Alex Rodriguez admits steroid use | Daily Contributor With ARod, Nothing Is Ever Simple « Running Local Full ARod Interview With Peter Gammons | SOX & Dawgs Now that Alex Rodriguez/A Rod has been […]

  6. Jane said

    Is there a source/link for that selena roberts publicity statement? No one else seems to have it and I have to question it’s veracity.

  7. Bob Kohm said

    Jane, it came directly from the HarperCollins website, and has been removed in the last 48 hours.

  8. […] asked me for the cite on the Harper Collins publicity document I copied to my post of February 9th, With ARod, Nothing is Ever Simple. The document appeared in several places– at Amazon.com on the preorder page for Hit & […]

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