By Bill Smith
In his play Julius Caesar, Shakespeare wrote:
“The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones;”
So let it be with A-Rod’s reputation. If it is not dead yet, a couple of new books are trying hard to bury it alive.
Two competing books reportedly describe the many flaws of Alex Rodriguez, the all star infielder of the New York Yankees. The books allege a variety of sins including drug use and tipping pitches to the opposition in blowout games. There is little doubt about the motives of the authors—money. And any time personal profit is involved, the reader needs to take that into consideration in evaluating the potential validity of the text.
The first book that included descriptions of steroid use by MLB players was written by former major league player and admitted steroid user Jose Canseco in his book Juiced in 2005. When the book came out, there was a flood of reviews that dismissed Canseco’s allegations as exaggerations, badly researched fiction, and unnecessarily exploitive sensationalism.
The Congress investigated MLB and steroids. So far, all that has accomplished is one admission of lying to Congress by a player that would not throw his fellow players into the gears of justice. It should be noted that it also took the attention of the legislature away from raising our taxes. For that we can be grateful. We are still awaiting the trial of former Giant slugger and current home run record holder Barry Bonds. The latest news indicates that trial may never happen.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the truth—several of Canseco’s claims proved to be true! In fact, it is hard to argue that up to now, he has been proven to be more accurate on his claims in the book than anyone wanted to believe. He has been more accurate than most of the critics that tried to refute his claims point by point.
Canseco’s new book Vindicated is due out this this fall. In a pre-release interview with WEEI-Radio in Boston, Canseco had some interesting comments about its contents relating to Rodriguez. When asked directly if he has documented A-Rod’s use of steroids in the book, Canseco said “wait and see.”
The other new book on Rodriguez is authored by Sports Illustrated writer Selena Roberts. This work hit the book shelves yesterday. According to interviews of the author, the book suggests that Rodriguez began using performance enhancing substances as early as high school. It says that he used them to gain 25 lbs. between his sophomore and junior year. That is not unusual. Many young men come of age and experience growth spurts in those years. She quotes her subject saying that he went from being able to bench press 110 lbs. to 310 lbs. Again, this is supposed to convince the reader of the validity of her claims. She also uses the already disclosed flunked test in 2003 as further proof of her accuracy.
It must be remembered that Ms. Robers was one of the early writers to convict the Duke Lacrosse players accused of rape. She certainly was not alone. The professors of that Univeristy, civil rights leaders, and many of the antique media were also willing to convict and sentence those young men before any evidence was gathered let alone studied and proven.
Sports Illustrated was also one of the first to release the rumors of failed drug tests by NFL draft prospects at the 2009 combine. Not only did most of that information prove to be wrong, it missed the names of those that did in fact fail those tests.
The problem with all of these books about stars is that they depend too much on unnamed sources and conclusions that are not warranted by the facts presented. Opinion is one thing and if it is labeled as such is fine. However, those that are falsely accused have no where to go to get their good names and reputations back. The families of the Duke players spent thousands of dollars defending their sons from lies of the accuser and prosecutorial misconduct.
Personally, I have no interest in any of these books. I suspect that most of my readers will view these books for what they are—a money making project that may or may not be accurate. So both Canseco and Roberts will have to live without my money.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .
My email is [email protected]