- The Washington Times - Monday, May 4, 2009

Alex Rodriguez is guilty until proven innocent, which reflects the steroid-fueled climate that baseball allowed to persist and not the quality of a book on the third baseman that will be released in stores Monday.

The book reveals A-Rod possibly used steroids in high school and after he was acquired by the Yankees, which would contradict his admission in February that his seasons as a performance-enhancing cheat lasted from 2001 to 2003 while employed by the Rangers.

The allegations come with qualifiers and a trust-the-author bent.

A former high school teammate claims A-Rod was a juicer as a teen and that the coach knew, a contention the coach already has denied. The book employs anonymous sources to cite A-Rod’s reported drug usage with the Yankees.

That research has been persuasive enough to elicit a tedious amount of speculation and chatter on the airwaves.

Of course, you could venture that A-Rod possibly took up with steroids in nursery school. At this point, the baseball public is liable to believe anything.

The book is the work of Selena Roberts, the Sports Illustrated reporter who uncovered that A-Rod was among the 104 players who tested positive in 2003. Incidentally, that finding was supposed to be kept confidential. The privacy of the other 103 players has been maintained either because of luck or because no one privy to the information has an ax to grind with them.

A-Rod apparently is not the noblest person, a proposition about as stunning as learning the sun rises from the east.

The insecurities and peccadilloes of A-Rod have been chronicled in numbing detail over the years, none sillier than his purported obsession with Derek Jeter, the team’s captain and darling of the New York media.

That kernel came from a book co-authored by Joe Torre, the former manager of the Yankees.

The Torre book also told how teammates called him A-Fraud behind his back, which beats being called A-Roid, the latest reworking of his nickname.

A-Rod certainly does not merit the benefit of the doubt. He lost that right after he denied ever using steroids in an interview with “60 Minutes” in 2007. You might think he would have been smart enough not to issue a denial in so public a forum as “60 Minutes” and with baseball knowing the truth.

Being wise never has been associated with A-Rod, whether he is being seen in strip clubs or in the company of Madonna. Even his admission in February raised more questions than it answered.

With the latest allegations, investigators with Major League Baseball are looking into A-Rod’s three-season time line with renewed vigor and trying to determine whether anyone other than his cousin supplied him with performance-enhancing drugs.

If MLB finds a hole in A-Rod’s story, officials have indicated that the commissioner’s office probably would seek disciplinary action against him.

The book has a non-drug-related tidbit certain to annoy teammates - that with the Rangers, he tipped pitches to opponents during one-sided games.

That practice just might bother a pitcher endeavoring to preserve his ERA. Statistics, after all, are the lifeblood of baseball, essential to both management and labor during contract negotiations.

A-Rod’s loneliest season is not entirely on him. It is partly on a game that buried its head in the turf during the statistically improbable spike in home runs that started in the ‘90s. The see-no-evil position was very good for business, even if it wound up tainting everyone in the game.

Everyone is guilty of everything now.

“I’m not going there,” A-Rod said of the book.

He cannot go there because he already has admitted to being a drug user, and he is a liar.

Nothing he says is apt to matter, except to MLB investigators.

Otherwise, A-Rod is pushing to recover from a surgically repaired hip.

The book is his welcome back to the game.

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