A-Rod's Damned if He Does and Damned if He Doesn't

Watching the reaction to Alex Rodriguez's admission to using performance enhancing drugs, it's hard not to think of the movie "Quiz Show." The situations are similar -- American institutions beset by widespread cheating -- and the mea culpas of Rodriguez and film protagonist Charles Van Doren seemed like they were written by the same hand. After Van Doren delivers his address to Congress, he's greeted with effusive praise from fellow Ivy League types for telling the truth, before a blue collar New York Congressman takes a chance to offer a different viewpoint.

"I don't think an adult of your intelligence ought to be commended for simply, at long last, telling the truth," he says and crushes Van Doren.

That seems to be the reaction of New York's media to A-Rod as well. Mike Francesa spent hours destroying Rodriguez on Monday while writers like Mike Lupica, George Vecsey and the always intelligent Bill Madden, who suggests that the Yankees cut A-Rod because paying him $275 million to pay for someone else will somehow teach him and all the rest of us a lesson.

A-Rod's apology was far from perfect, it left many questions to be answered and he rationalized his behavior more than you might like. But he admitted using steroids, explicitly, and admitted using them for several years. Many of the writers and talking heads eviscerating A-Rod applauded Andy Pettitte for last year's HGH admission, even though Pettitte made the impossible to believe claim that he only used the drug once. Jason Giambi got kid glove treatment after refusing to admit why he was apologizing.

Even his flawed admission is miles past what we've gotten from the likes of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire. People don't feel they've gotten the whole truth about Rodriguez, and they probably haven't, but they got the truth about what he was accused of doing in the SI.com article on Saturday. That's enough for now, especially when there will be ample chances to ask him any question that you feel has been left unanswered or poorly answered.

Every single one of the sportswriters listed above would be just as harsh on Rodriguez today if he stonewalled or refused comment on the allegations. If A-Rod had just released a statement that read "On Saturday, I was accused of failing a drug test in 2003. Those allegations are true. I used performance enhancing drugs and am sorry," they would have reacted with the same vitriol.

A pound of Rodriguez's flesh isn't enough, it seems, just as elite offensive production has never been enough for Rodriguez on the field. If Rodriguez hits three home runs in his first three at-bats but strikes out in the fourth, the home runs don't lead the game story. The admission of steroid use from 2001-2003 isn't leading the stories on Tuesday morning, either.

Why? Because A-Rod is always evaluated on what he hasn't done, not on what he has done, which makes him different than just about every other player in the history of baseball.

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