Alex Rodriguez had several routes available to him when it came to facing an allegation of a positive steroid test that broke on Saturday. He could do follow the Barry Bonds/Roger Clemens path and deny everything in the face of strong evidence. He could apologize without apologizing for anything, like Jason Giambi, or he could do the Andy Pettitte "I only used performance enhancing drugs to help the team" thing.
Or he could just try to be as honest as possible. Thankfully, that's the route he chose to follow in a clip of an interview with ESPN's Peter Gammons that will air later on Monday evening.
"When I arrived in Texas in 2001, I felt an enormous amount of pressure," Rodriguez said. "I felt like I had all the weight of the world on top of me and I needed to perform and perform at a high level every day. Back then it was a different culture, it was very loose. I was young, I was stupid, I was naive and I wanted to prove to everyone that I was worth being one of the greatest players of all time."
He went on to say that he stopped using in 2003 and didn't know exactly what substances he ingested during those years. In an article on ESPN.com that features unaired portions of the interview, Rodriguez says that Gene Orza, the COO of the MLB Players' Association, told him in 2004 that he may or may not have failed the drug test in 2003, which led him to think that what he took "might have been OK."
That last little bit is a bit too vintage A-Rod, a bit too naked an attempt to save face and make it seem like he wasn't doing anything wrong. It's a little too carefully phrased and a little too political, but it doesn't take away from the central admission and apology that Rodriguez made to start the interview.
He stood up and admitted taking drugs and what motivated his choice. It was shrewd of him to mention the culture of the time, as well as baseball's blind eye to performance enhancing drugs, but nothing was shrewder than the decision to admit using steroids. Yes, he got caught and that forced his hand, but there are several other players who haven't admitted their mistakes under the same circumstances.
Now, we'll have to see how the masses react, but unless Rodriguez's claims are counteracted with new evidence of drug use, he did everything he could to rescue what's left of his image on Monday.