Rodriguez tells truth, but it’s not whole truth

Telling the truth can be liberating, or so Alex Rodriguez would like us to believe.

With his confessional on national television now behind him, he can sleep at night without worrying about his darkest secrets being exposed. There will be no more twinges of conscience when he cashes his million-dollar paychecks, no lingering doubts when he visits his trophy room.

Best of all, he won’t have to lie to Katie Couric anymore.

"The more honest we can all be, the quicker we can get baseball (back) to where it needs to be," Rodriguez said.

Never mind that Rodriguez was being honest only because he had no other choice. Sports Illustrated took care of that when it reported A-Rod was one of 104 players who tested positive for steroids in 2003.

Backed into a corner, he confessed. Sort of.

He admitted doing steroids but said he didn’t know what kind they were. He knew he was juiced but claims he didn’t know he tested positive.

He said he had no excuses, then offered them up by the fistful.

He was young. He was stupid. He was naive. Two hundred-fifty million dollars creates a lot of pressure. It was a loosey-goosey era. They sell a lot of funny stuff at the nutritional store. It was really hot in Texas.

"The truth will set you free," Rodriguez told ESPN’s Peter Gammons. "I’m just proud I’m here sharing my story."

And to think, Rodriguez almost didn’t get the chance. If not for SI’s Selena Roberts and her colleagues, he still would be on vacation, unable to unload his tortured thoughts to baseball fans everywhere.

He must have been ecstatic when they nailed him because the truth really can set you free.

Sure, A-Rod’s admission that he did steroids for three seasons beginning in 2001 was more than we’ve ever gotten from Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens or even Jason Giambi. He deserves credit for coming clean about using steroids during a time in which he hit 156 homers and had 395 RBIs.

But remember that he lied about it in the past and never would have admitted using anything stronger than coffee if SI hadn’t come looking. His only options then were to deny everything — a strategy that hasn’t worked well for Bonds and Clemens — or throw himself on the mercy of fans who desperately want to forget.

Rodriguez chose to play the sympathy card, and he’s likely to get some. He used the words "sorry," "stupid" and "naive" so many times some fans might actually be moved enough to overlook his arrogance and his big, fat paycheck.

Indeed, Gammons played along with a gentle line of questioning. But how about answering some questions that might come in high and inside?

Tell us who introduced you to steroids and how you got them. Explain exactly what they were and how much you took. Give us the date you started and the date you stopped. Tell us how many of your teammates did them and whether you all shot up together in the clubhouse. Explain why we should believe that you weren’t juiced in Seattle if you were in Texas. Better yet, make us really believe the story of you suddenly deciding to quit just as you were going to the Yankees.

The confession was a start, but there’s a lot more to talk about.

Tim Dahlberg is a Las Vegas-based national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg@ap.org.

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