- The Washington Times - Friday, February 20, 2009

Alex Rodriguez said he should have gone to college because then he would not have become “young and dumb” at age 25, when he started using performance-enhancing drugs with the Texas Rangers.

Everything would have turned out differently for Rodriguez if he merely had taken the time to crack open a book at 18 and soak up the enlightenment that comes with being a college student.

Rodriguez knows what every American knows: A college campus is a temple of purity. No one is tempted to use performance-enhancing drugs in college because of Aristotle’s truths that permeate the locker room.

If only Rodriguez had been exposed to the teachings of an instructor as analytical as Ward Churchill, he would have been better able to endure the strength-sapping heat of Texas and not felt the need to seek a synthetic boost.

If only he could have back that period in his life, he would not have been sitting before a media horde in Tampa, Fla., this week, dispensing unsettling facts and figures, choking up at one point. He could not be certain the drugs aided his performance. He could not even be certain he was being injected in the most beneficial fashion.

You see, he was a one-man BALCO operation - two if you count his cousin, the errand boy. He took injections twice a month during a three-year period from 2001 to 2003, and he was just “young” and “dumb,” even as he passed his 28th birthday.

In Rodriguez’s world, 28 is the new 15. At least that was one of the principal elements of his story, crafted in part by his crisis-management team. His team could mold the story. His team could not sell it. That was on Rodriguez.

And he tried to sell it between sips on his water bottle. Yet his story always came back to being “young” and “dumb,” even as he put more meat on the story and gave up a cousin.

Last week, with ESPN’s Peter Gammons, Rodriguez could not recall the substance he used. This week, after further review, Rodriguez let it out that he was using “boli,” slang for Primobolan.

And Rodriguez believed he and his cousin were operating in an ethical gray area, although he said they were too afraid to ask around to see whether they were administering the juice properly. So, you see, he was not sure it was wrong, but he was sure enough that it would be unwise to seek advice.

Now Rodriguez sees what he did was wrong. He has had a conversion, a revelation, and has taken up with the Taylor Hooton Foundation, started in honor of a teen who started using steroids in 2002 and hanged himself a year later.

The foundation, headed by Taylor Hooton’s father, Don Hooton, seeks to warn youths about steroids, seeks to tell them that riches are not found in a syringe. Rodriguez, unimaginably rich as he is, is looking to confirm that message.

That, too, might be a tough sell. The elder Hooton, convenient prop or not, was in Tampa to support Rodriguez, to use the occasion of a national confessional to advance a cause that tugs on his broken heart. It was great theater, of course. The redemption tour is America’s favorite reality show, especially if the principal is at the peak of his power and fame and his yarn is lacking in substance.

Rodriguez wants everyone to believe that in making the most important decision of his baseball life, he treated the details with indifference. This career .306 hitter, who can spot where a catcher is placing his mitt with a subtle shift of the eyes before the pitch is delivered, failed to do even the most rudimentary pharmaceutical homework.

Rodriguez may commit to memory the tendencies of every pitcher in the major leagues, but when it came to putting a foreign substance in his body, he could not be bothered with the fine print.

Let’s do it, cousin.

Oh, right. Forgot. He was “young” and “dumb.”

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