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Trainspotter

Alex Rodriguez expected to make first public comments on steroid report to ESPN

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The next words out of Alex Rodriguez's mouth, the first since he was outed for steroids use by Sports Illustrated, will set the tone for how he is viewed for what's left of his baseball career.

 

He is expected to utter those words on ESPN, probably later Monday, probably with veteran baseball reporter Peter Gammons.

 

Already, there have been many in the media offering advice on what he should say and how he should say it. Will he let the situation fester and the avalanche of negative publicity build? Will he soon hold a press conference?

 

It's no surprise that A-Rod would make his first public statement on ESPN and with Gammons. A-Rod may issue a statement, followed by his interview.

 

Don't be surprised if A-Rod offers the usual explanations for having been caught on a steroid test: He had a medical condition. He thought he was taking a supplement, maybe in a shake. He didn't know what it was.

 

If so, Gammons, or whoever the interviewer is, should be allowed to challenge those assertions.

 

Whether it's live or taped, you can bet there will be pressure on the interviewer as well as on Rodriguez. Viewers - at least those who are objective - will be looking for pointed, tough questions, and realistic answers. Otherwise, there will also be questions about whether ESPN accepted ground rules in order to secure the interview.

 

There will be those who wonder if A-Rod has agreed to the interview with the condition that he knew the questions in advance. Anything is possible.

 

Since SI's revelations, A-Rod has been taken apart, chunk by chunk, by a variety of media outlets. He's had few defenders. If this were a turf war, A-Rod would have been backed into the corner the size of a postage stamp.

 

In order to reclaim PR territory he once occupied, he must come off credible and personable when he makes his first statement. It will be much more than a finger-in-the-dyke moment. A-Rod must stop the flood of negativity with words. This will be his ultimate test of spin.

 

So, it would serve no purpose to get in a confrontation with whoever does the interview. That's why, if he is going on ESPN, with Gammons, he may have picked a guy who would give him the best chance to succeed.

 

Throughout A-Rod's Yankee tenure, Gammons has often defended him. In 2006, during a Yankees-Mets Sunday night tilt on ESPN, Gammons made light of A-Rod's inability to hit in the clutch and cast Yankees fans, who constantly bring up this deficience in A-Rod's game, as ingrates.

 

In 2007, after Rodriguez was photographed parading Joslyn Noel Morse, his stripper/friend, through the lobby of a Toronto hotel, Gammons avoided the moral issue of a man cheating on his wife. Instead, he said: "It's a very tough thing to be very rich, very handsome athlete today."

 

Gammons has been called on before to do "hot" interviews at ESPN. In 2000, after SI broke another controversial story concerning the racist rantings of John Rocker, Gammons was the first reporter to interview the fiery reliever.

 

Gammons interview was conducted in a very sympathetic manner. After the chat, Gammons told another reporter that the sympathetic tone of the interview "may be my fault. I'm not claiming that it's not my fault. I tried to be right down the middle with the interview and lay back. I didn't want to be pounding him."

 

Alex Rodriguez can only hope for the same treatment today.

 

NY Daily News

Bob Raissmann

February 9th 2009

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A-Rod comes clean, and he admits it, so let's leave him alone and let him play good baseball this year.

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He used steroids from 2001 to 2003. So that is a short time, I don't feel he should be suspended but should face a small penalty or miss few games...

 

Not even that. This test was supposed to be kept secret, no penalizations or anything... should be kept that way. Besides, if they do it to him, they have to do it to every other currently active player on that list. Who, by they way, I would like to know. Seems a little suspicious that they only release A-Rod's name. Are they out to get him and him only? Oh wait... yeah, they are...

 

A-Rod comes clean, and he admits it, so let's leave him alone and let him play good baseball this year.

 

Concur.

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