A-Rod admits he's A-Cheat

STEVE SIMMONS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:03 AM ET

The great baseball chase is now upon us -- with the confirmed cheat and liar Alex Rodriguez as the legitimate home run heir apparent to the allegedly purjuring hypocrite Barry Bonds.

This is A-Fraud chasing defraud.

With the overpaid commissioner, Bud Selig, once again caught with his head in the sand and the Players' Association chiefs, Donald Fehr and Gene Orza, playing the part of co-conspirators, protecting the guilty just never the innocent.

The notion that there is shock or disappointment over the leaked positive drug test of yet another baseball star is stunning on its own. How many times do we need holes punched in our balloons before we realize the party is over? The difficulty now is in not just determining who did and who didn't -- and the great self-promoter himself, Curt Schilling, wants the list of 103 positive tests from 2003 published -- but in determining who cheated baseball and its fans, and how much did they cheat?

A distinction between Rodriguez and Bonds, two highly unpopular mega-talents, needs to be made and not just from the perspective of one coming clean and the other using clear and cream. There needs to be some kind of line drawn between use and abuse of performance enhancing drugs, and a categorization of sorts.

This is the scale of which you must favour A-Rod over Bonds. At least when it comes to benefit of the doubt in an arena where everyone is apparently guilty until proven innocent.

One of the defining aspects of the steroid generation of baseball players comes from bloated statistics and bloated bodies, only one of which Rodriguez can say he owns. His numbers are huge, before 2003, since 2003, in fact, throughout his entire career except in games that really matter.

CAREER BRILLIANCE

But understand this: A-Rod's numbers didn't grow substantially with use of steroids, which lends some credence to his insistence yesterday that he took the drugs only while playing for the Texas Rangers. That may not make him any less of a cheat yet somehow his career brilliance is more established by talent than his artificial enhancement.

We saw Bonds grow before our very eyes. His head got bigger, literally and figuratively. His shoulder and arms grew. He went from boy to man to freak. Hell, his feet grew a bunch of sizes.

No sign of that with A-Rod. He has gone from boy to the man with the usual change of body. He didn't get the Sammy Sosa neck. He didn't get the Mark McGwire shoulders and forearms. He didn't have to go to the tailor to have all his suits altered. He had a sweet swing as a kid with an infielder's body and now has a sweet swing with a larger infielder's body, nothing that would raise eyebrows.

His body, like his statistics, have remained a constant. Not like Roger Clemens, who had a better record pitching between the ages of 40-and-44 than he did between the ages of 30-and-34, which is physically unnatural.

BONDS GOT BIGGER

Athletes don't peak in their 40s, unless their names are Jamie Moyer. Clemens was 61-33 after turning 40 and 58-50 after 30.

He got better with age. Bonds got bigger and better with age. Sosa hit 66-63-50-64-49 home runs in a five-year span in the midst of the steroids era: The five-years before that he hit 36-40-36-25-33. That's a difference of 122 home runs in five years. That isn't normal.

And there has to be a point of distinction here.

A-Rod and Bonds both cheated, but are not the same. One used, and we're not certain he abused, while the other clearly abused to the point of altering the competitive balance of the game and its precious statistics, which become less meaningful with each passing day.

This is not an apology of any kind for Alex Rodriguez. He has now been caught cheating and lying and apologized on his own yesterday.

But the steroid era and the steroid players in baseball now require some kind of context.

The abusers and those who have benefitted from it have already had their careers stained: With or without steroids, A-Rod was going to put up huge numbers.

And that makes him a different kind of cheat on a scale we're still trying to comprehend.


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