A-Roid? Rodriguez Tested Positive in ‘03, Says SI

Remember how unbelievable Alex Rodriguez’s last season in Texas was? That it was so far beyond anyone else, they had to give the MVP to a guy on a last-place team? Those stats: .298 BA, 47 HR, 118 RBI, and now, one giant asterisk.

Alex Rodriguez

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, showing us all once again that they’re not obsolete, reports this morning that Alex Rodriguez was one of 104 players who tested positive for steroids in 2003. Being that it’s a Saturday morning, SI could certainly work on their timing, but I suppose this story might have enough legs to make it through the weekend.

Why this is worse for you, than it is for A-Rod, after the jump.

2003 was a trial run for baseball’s steroid testing policy, and players testing positive were not punished. The results were supposed to stay anonymous, but “four independent sources” confirmed that Rodriguez’s name was on the list, which was seized as part of the government’s BALCO investigation.

Rodriguez allegedly tested positive for testosterone and Primobolan, which Kirk Radomski testified many players switched to because it was harder to detect.

When approached by an SI reporter on Thursday at a gym in Miami, Rodriguez declined to discuss his 2003 test results. “You’ll have to talk to the union,” said Rodriguez, the Yankees’ third baseman since his trade to New York in February 2004. When asked if there was an explanation for his positive test, he said, “I’m not saying anything.”

What does this mean for Rodriguez? Likely, not much. He won’t be punished, and it’s not as if he was beloved on the road. And at least he won’t have to hear the “A-Fraud” chant now; “A-Roid” rolls off the tongue much better.

What does it mean for baseball? That’s much worse. We all stupidly clung to the notion that we knew the steroid abusers when we saw them, and that there were still guys like A-Rod and Pujols and Griffey who were clean, just supremely talented. Now we can’t cling to one of that holy trinity anymore.

Despite fans’ enmity for Rodriguez, they were pulling for him to top Barry Bonds‘ all-time home run record, so at least we could have a “pure” number on top. That’s out the window.

And, what’ll be underreported in the next days and weeks, is that there are 103 other major leaguers who tested positive in 2003, out of nearly 1200 tested. That’s almost ten percent. We’ve convinced ourselves that steroid testing since 2004 is flawless, that because only a handful of scrubs and minor leaguers tested positive, that it’s no longer a problem in our sport. But it’s unlikely that 100 players simply went cold turkey in one year.

This isn’t just A-Rod’s problem, but all of baseball’s. The recent Yankee teams will, perhaps rightly, be derided as juiced. But remember, 104 players. That’s three or four on your favorite team.

This is everybody’s problem.