Though I might be talked into believing Peter Gammons’ softball approach with Alex Rodriguez ultimately allowed The Third Baseman to totally bury himself — when he wasn’t calling Selena Roberts a stalker, A-Rod suggested the 100 degree heat in Arlington was a contributing factor to his drug use —- the New York Times’ Richard Sandomir isn’t having it.
A candid Rodriguez gave Gammons plenty ” the admission to using steroids and the often-repeated self-flagellation that he was stupid and naive,” But Gammons, ESPN’s Hall of Fame baseball writer, did not ask a crucial question: “Alex, how often did you take Primobolan or any other banned substances?”
It is a rare journalist who walks away from a big interview satisfied that every possible question had been asked in such a set period of time. But this was a big omission.
The answer would have given viewers a greater sense of how much Rodriguez felt he needed to experiment in that œloosey-goosey era of drug use he described, a period that included his three years as a Texas Ranger. What was the frequency, Alex?
When asked where he got any of his drugs, Gammons let him take cover behind the answer that œyou have nutritionists, you have doctors, you have trainers. Well, who? (All we know from him is that he got nothing through Jose Canseco.)
He also let Rodriguez use the camouflage of baseball’s pretesting-program drug culture ”a gray area whereœa lot of people were doing a lot of things ” when asked who introduced him to steroids?
Asked by Gammons if Primobolan, an anabolic steroid whose chemical name is methenolone, were accessible even if doctors would not prescribe it, Rodriguez diverted to asking to see the test because he insisted he did not know what he tested positive for. Alex, meet Primobolan.
The New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman takes an even dimmer view of Gammons’ performance on Monday, writing the Hall Of Fame journalist “was presiding over a part Pity Party, part A-Rodganda session.”
If he had a skeptical bone in his body, he might have asked a follow-up that went something like this: Alex, you said you didn’t know what you were taking, you didn’t know you failed a six-year-old drug test until a reporter told you last week, you say you didn’t even know who turned you on to the drugs – and now you are saying you didn’t know you were lying on national television. Why should anyone in their right mind believe you?
Gammons never asked that question. He never even came close to trying to probe in an effort to get one straight answer. After A-Rod immediately admitted he had taken performance-enhancing drugs in Texas, confirming SI’s story, ESPN could have shut off its cameras. The rest of the interview was garbage.