Ritter: Alex Rodriguez and steroids

February 9, 2009 12:56:36 PM PST
Alex Rodriguez loves to try to control his public image -- but clearly he doesn't do a very good job of it. Now it turns out he doesn't do a very good job of telling the truth either. A-Rod isn't the first gifted athlete to lie about not taking steroids. Tonight he's talking -- admitting to ESPN that, indeed, he did take performance-enhancing drugs from 2001 to 2003. Finally admitting - this after vehemently denying he ever used them.

What makes Rodriguez even bigger news tonight is not just that he lied about steroids. Not just that he's the highest paid player ever. It's also because he has a very good chance of becoming baseball's all-time home run leader. He is only a couple of hundred home runs away from the mark set by alleged steroids liar, Barry Bonds.

And so all eyes are on the talented but clearly troubled Yankees third baseman. Madonna and a publicly failed marriage are the least of his problems.

An asterisk by Bonds' and, if he breaks the mark, Rodriguez in the record books? Ask me and I'd say paw-shaw to the asterisk. Instead, the record should be taken away from Bonds, and eliminated as a goal from Rodriguez. Or at least take away the homers from the years he admitted using drugs: 2001 to 2003, when he averaged 52 home runs each season. The other 10 seasons of his career he averaged just more than 39.

But I digress. Because this isn't just an A-Rod problem. This is a Major League Baseball problem. The sport that cares about money over morality is reaping what it has sown. The sport that said there'd be little or no punishment for taking steroids should now be punished itself. The sport that turned a blind eye to the widespread use of performance enhancing drugs among its star athletes is now getting blind-sided by public opinion.

But baseball should have seen this coming.

What kind of supposed role models are these overpaid goliaths to the young people who baseball needs and wants to become the fans of tomorrow? The kind of boys and girls who, when they're older, will take their sons and daughters to the games and fork over hundreds of dollars for seats and handfuls of cash for overpriced food -- just so these rich and largely uneducated players can take home millions?

Just so these rich owners can also take home millions?

And we taxpayers are now paying for a huge chunk of these private stadiums. Why, we ask again?

We can envision one way fans might react. A radical and drastic way to be sure: If a player who has tested positive for steroids is playing on the field, the fans could refuse to pay. Hit 'em where it hurts. Let attendance fall. That's the vote the fans could have.

We'd love to hear how you feel about this latest baseball scandal. Please CLICK HERE and we'll publish some of your comments in this space tomorrow.

We'll have the latest on the scandal, and on Rodriguez's future with the Yankees, tonight at 11. Scott Clark leads our coverage.

We're also covering Pres. Obama's first prime-time televised news conference. He's already in the White House, but he's campaigning, no question, for his economic stimulus package. He was at a town hall meeting in Elkhart, Indiana today, where Mr. Obama warned the recession could deepen if the government doesn't act fast.

And tonight he's back in the White House, making the case to the American people, through his answers to the news media.

There are many who applaud the president, finally, getting out to make his case. He tried the bipartisan route, and ended up getting his proposal fairly gutted by Republicans, who wanted more tax cuts than spending plans.

We'll see how the president's newly aggressive stance plays out; a Senate vote on the plan could come tomorrow.

As if to underscore how far the economy has plummeted, Starbucks, the gourmet coffee chain where a cup of burnt coffee costs you $4, and where coffee sales have sunk, is now offering its version of a happy-meal. For $3.95, Starbucks is selling a latte with coffee cake, or drip coffee with a hot sandwich.

It's the first "value menu" Starbucks is offering, although the chain refuses to call it that, choosing instead to market it as "Hello to a New Day."

Whatever. It's recession reality.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa (in for Liz Cho) and me, tonight at 11.