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A-Rod delivers another black eye to baseball

Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor

Rounding Third Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - I hope Joe Torre sold a lot of books last week, because nobody is going to be talking about his "Yankee Years" as spring training kicks into high gear later this week.

Unless you were living under a rock this past weekend, you undoubtedly heard that New York Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez tested positive for anabolic steroids back in 2003 while playing for the Texas Rangers.

According to a report on SI.com, Rodriguez had been tested as part of a joint agreement between Major League Baseball and the Players' Association to determine whether it was necessary to institute mandatory random drug testing for the 2004 season. No penalties were levied for tests that came back positive in 2003.

After more than five percent of MLB's 1,198 players surveyed tested positive, a mandatory random-testing program was instituted and penalties were enforced beginning the following year.

The report also claims that Rodriguez was tipped off in September of the 2004 season by then-COO of the players' union, Gene Orza, of an impending test later that month.

Sadly, I was not surprised by these revelations. How can anyone be at this point? Not that I always thought A-Rod was doing something, but there is not a name out there that would shock me. Albert Pujols, Derek Jeter, nobody would surprise me. I came to terms with the fact a long time ago that steroids were - and probably to some extent still are - a part of the game.

The way Rodriguez's name was released, though, does not sit well with me. The results from the 2003 tests should have been destroyed as soon as the positives had been tallied.

How Rodriguez handles this crisis over the next couple of days will go a long way in determining, ultimately, how he will be judged. Will he go the Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire route and deny all the way to the bitter end? Or will he go the Jason Giambi, Andy Pettitte route and own up to his mistakes?

Say what you will about Giambi's lame attempt at apologizing, he is definitely viewed differently these days than the rest of the steroid crew. And with Pettitte, it's almost as if nothing happened.

Obviously it will be different for A-Rod. He is an all-time player. A Hall of Fame player. Perhaps one of the top-five players to ever step foot on a baseball field.

Luckily, unlike Bonds and Clemens, Rodriguez still has a good eight or nine years left in him to make things right.

The first step to making it right, though, is to come clean. Don't tell people that it was the first and only time you used it. Don't tell us that you didn't know what you were doing. Those excuses have been used already. Try something new...just tell the truth.

No matter how Rodriguez handles it, baseball took an enormous hit this past weekend. Rodriguez was the guy who was going to break the home run record the "right" way. Now, all that is out the door. His legacy, like Bonds', like Clemens' will forever be tarnished.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at cruddick@sportsnetwork.com.