Rich Hofmann: A-Rod's steroid confession is comical

Alex Rodriguez' mea culpa on ESPN was hard to believe.
Alex Rodriguez' mea culpa on ESPN was hard to believe.
Posted: February 10, 2009

IF YOU CAN GET through the transcript of Alex Rodriguez' interview with ESPN without tears - tears of laughter - then you are a better person than most, or at least a less-cynical person when it comes to performance-enhancing drugs and sports.

A personal favorite line:

"I'm not sure exactly what substance I used. But whatever it is, I feel terribly about it."

Can you imagine him repeating that statement on Alex Rodriguez Day at Yankee Stadium, forever to be known as The House that Primobolan Built? Perhaps with a little faux Gehrig echo, just for effect? Because those are the key words here, "faux" and "for effect."

And so we watch as A-Rod fights for his public-relations life. It is hilariously distasteful.

"It was such a loosey-goosey era," he said. "I'm guilty for a lot of things. I'm guilty for being negligent, naive, not asking all the right questions. And to be quite honest, I don't know exactly what substance I was guilty of using."

I'm sorry.

I didn't know.

"I couldn't feel more regret and feel more sorry because I have so much respect for this game, and, you know, the people that follow me and respect me," Rodriguez said. "And I have millions of fans out there that are, you know, will never look at me the same."

I didn't know.

I'm sorry.

It is funny how public embarrassment will bring out the apologies and the regret. It is amazing what this zillionaire did not know and did not care to know. Why would anyone ever believe a word he had to say? Why would anyone even care to listen?

Because nobody does. It is the great irony of the steroid era, that the paying customers don't care. That as the names and allegations have piled up over the years, more and more tickets have been bought. That as the suspects have gotten bigger, as the congressional hearings have gotten hotter, as the whole sordid mess has gotten more and more sordid, the sport has set a series of revenue records.

Baseball has never been more healthy even as the game has been revealed to have been a drug-filled cesspool.

They don't care. They don't want to know. The only downside is the effect it might be having on younger athletes, the vigilance it has forced on adults in the youth sporting culture, the burden of education and testing and the rest. That is the shame of it. The rest is meaningless.

The game was dirty. With the current steroid-testing program, it is dirty in a different, harder-to-detect way. The NFL is the same way. And people have made a deal with themselves, a willing suspension of disbelief. They pay their money and they don't think about the rest of it. They pay their money and they get entertained and that is it.

We care about A-Rod being embarrassed publicly in the same way that we care about actor Christian Bale getting caught on tape delivering a profane rant on a movie set. When it comes to the rich and famous, the embarrassment itself is the theater. The act that caused the embarrassment is almost beside the point.

Which raises this question: Wouldn't this stuff be much better covered in Us Weekly than in Sports Illustrated?

Anyway, A-Rod was talking to ESPN. He said, "There will be some people that say, you know, Alex is not a great player, going back to high school, I mean, they're just going to have this blanket cloud over my career. And for those, they may have their own point, but it feels good coming out and being completely honest and putting it out there and realizing that the more honest we can all be, the quicker we get baseball to where it is today."

And where is that exactly?

Where is baseball today?

And do you really want to know? *

Send e-mail to

hofmanr@phillynews.com,

or read his blog, The Idle Rich, at

http://go.philly.com/theidlerich.

For recent columns go to

http://go.philly.com/hofmann.

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