Will A-Rod bombshell blow up in Yankees' face?:Hot and Latest News
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Will A-Rod bombshell blow up in Yankees' face?

Alex Rodriguez during an interview today on ESPN in which he admitted using steroids. AP photo

By Jason Fink

The Yankees signed Alex Rodriguez to baseball's richest contract no doubt envisioning him wearing the team's uniform as he broke some of baseball's most storied records.

Now, the Yankees will be forced to deflect criticism from those who accuse Rodriguez of not earning his achievements fairly.

“They’re just going to have this blanket cloud over my career," A-Rod said yesterday. "They may have their own point."

Rodriguez’s bombshell admission today on ESPN that he used steroids will no doubt turn the Yankees’ Spring Training, which begins next week, into a media circus, hogging much of the spotlight from the team’s newest stars.

But the revelations are unlikely to seriously derail the team’s push for a championship, observers and fans say.

“A-Rod’s continuing fiesta of off-field distractions has never been much of a problem for the Yankees,” said John Thorn, a baseball historian, referring to tabloid stories about Rodriguez’s infidelities and feuding with teammates.

“I don’t think it will affect how the players treat him because this happened before he joined the Yankees.”
Thorn said Rodriguez’s sometimes frosty relationships with other players – particularly Derek Jeter – has more to do with his “distance in the clubhouse” than with any of the scandals in his personal life.

“He’s such a lightning rod for attention, a lot of it negative, I don’t think it will affect him that much,” said Joe Pietaro, editor of New York Sportsscene magazine.

In the interview yesterday with ESPN, Rodriguez said he expects to be able to keep his focus on the game and predicted that Yankees fans will forgive him.

“New Yorkers like honesty,” he said. “I think they like people that say the truth. I also think they like great players that know how to win. I think winning is the ultimate medicine we can take here.”

And while Rodriguez’s use of performance-enhancing drugs from 2001 to 2003 while on the Texas Rangers is more directly related to baseball than, say, his fling with Madonna, he is just the latest high-profile player to be linked to a banned substance, perhaps lessening its impact.

“It’s not a surprising development,” blogger Mark Townsend wrote on Bugs and Cranks. “It was 2003. Everybody and their mother were on steroids in 2003.”

Indeed, Rodriguez was one of 104 players to test positive in 2003 as part of a trial program meant to lay the ground work for the testing policy put into place a year later.

With home-run king Barry Bonds and former Yankees and Red Sox great Roger Clemens, among many others, already embroiled in the steroids scandals, fans have come to label the whole era chemically enhanced.

“We are going to keep hearing about the steroid issue until Major League Baseball releases the names of players that tested positive,” said Cliff Parks, the webmaster of Yankeeshomeplate.com. “A-Rod will be asked about it at almost every interview during spring training but I think he is the type of player that can put it aside and go out there and help the New York Yankees.”

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