SI writer Jeff Pearlman offers his thoughts about the A-Rod press conference. Specifically, why are his teammates still supporting him?
They sat like lemmings, one alongside the other alongside the other, nodding with Alex Rodriguez's words, showing that-good or bad-he is one of them. That he is a New York Yankee.
And then, I vomited my Honey Nut Cheerios back into the bowl.
Will someone please tell me what, in the name of Steve Balboni, were ARod's teammates doing at today's press conference? Why were they there? Why were they supporting this man and his actions?
You're Derek Jeter. You've presumably played the game cleanly since making your debut 14 years ago. You're known as a stand-up guy and a hard-nosed shortstop who believes in the pure goodness of baseball. Why would you support ARod?
You're Andy Pettitte. You've been down this road before. You claim to detest cheating and how it has corroded the sport. Why would you support ARod?
You're Brian Cashman. You (laughably) claim to never have suspected Rodriguez or Roger Clemens or Jason Giambi or Jose Canseco any of the other juiced Bombers who have graced your roster. Why would you support ARod?
The answer, of course, is simple: Baseball players are dolts.
Admittedly, I am not that bright. I attended the University of Delaware. I am a sports writer. I liked Charles In Charge. But when Jayson Blair and Stephen Glass were outed as the worst kind of journalists (not mere plagiarists or mis-quoters, but inventors of reality), I didn't show up for their farewells in a display of support. I didn't have anyone's back or stick up for a peer. No, I saw the massive damage they did to our profession … and I was royally pissed off.
So, once again, why?
In my 15 years of covering sports, I've heard hundreds of athletes talk of "being a real man" A real man plays hard. A real man shows up on time. A real man admits his mistake. A real man ... blah, blah, blah. Truth be told, being a real man (if one must use such a stupid phrasing) means having guts to go against the uniform and the expected behavior. Of course the Yankees stood behind Rodriguez-because 95 percent of these boobs have never taken a stand in their lives. The foundation of their existences centers around repetition and precision; doing as told and being robotic in response and output. That, more than anything, is why I'd rather my daughter and son become bowling shoe cleaners than pro athletes. I want them to be blessed with conviction and decency, not mindless adherence.
So, New York Yankee players, line up behind a man who cheated; who lied; who shamed the game. Line up behind someone who has shown you and your profession no respect.
At some point, clean ballplayers must take action. No more support for disgraced teammates; no more "We just need to move past this" BS monologues; no more calls for fresh starts and short memories.
No, somebody like Jeter or Johnny Damon or Mark Teixeira needs to make clear that steroids are a disgrace, and those who use are damnations to the game.
It's time to stop supporting Alex Rodriguez-and start supporting baseball.