- Wallace Matthews, ESPN Staff Writer
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SEATTLE -- Even before Major League Baseball concludes its investigation, and the suspensions, if any, come down, we already have a pretty good idea of just about everything there is to know regarding the Biogenesis affair.
We can pretty well surmise that Tony Bosch is a sketchy character, that something not on the level was going on at his "anti-aging clinic." If he truly was peddling readily available, legal substances, why were professional athletes traveling hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles to obtain them in person, and trying so hard to conceal the fact they were doing it? And we can surmise that MLB seems determined to bring the whole dirty affair out into the light.
We know Alex Rodriguez, among many others, is alleged to be somehow involved, and we can reasonably assume the Yankees would love this to be the episode that finally enables them to get out from under the onerous contract they gave him six years ago.
The one major piece of information we still don't know is simply this: What is going on in Alex Rodriguez's head right now?
Is he worried about this? Is he laughing at it? Does he have some exculpatory bit of evidence that will ultimately vindicate him?
Does he believe that somehow this will all work out in his favor; that all will be forgiven and forgotten; that he will return to the Yankees to play before approving crowds again; that he will continue his pursuit of the all-time home run record and ultimately wind up where we all thought he was headed, in the Hall of Fame?
Or does he merely believe that, since he has seemingly gotten away with every single transgression he has ever committed in his adult life, he will get away with this one, too -- despite the odds that appear to be stacked against him?
This week, A-Rod dismissed the publicity firm he hired to deal with the fallout from Biogenesis and replaced it with Ron Berkowitz, whose outfit represents Jay-Z, among others.
He also reorganized his legal representation, recalling Jay Reisinger, the Pittsburgh-based attorney who had represented him previously, in place of Roy Black, the high-powered criminal attorney he retained around the same time the original story broke.
And in his first act with his new "team," A-Rod put out another statement, as vague as all the others he has issued since the story first broke in the Miami New Times in January.
"Myself and others are being mentioned in a media report before the process is even concluded," the statement read. "I would hope this thing would follow the guidelines of our Basic Agreement. I will monitor the situation and comment when appropriate. As I have said previously, I am working out every day to get back on the field and help the Yankees win a championship. I am down here doing my job and working hard and will continue to do so until I'm back playing."
As in the past, the statement tells us absolutely nothing.
It doesn't even claim innocence.
But unlike previous statements, this one actually appears to have come out of A-Rod's mouth and A-Rod's brain.
According to sources ESPNNewYork.com spoke with Thursday, some still associated with Alex and others recently deposed, Rodriguez claims to have a story to tell that will shed a different light on what we have heard so far and is eager to tell it.
We can't begin to imagine what it could be, but maybe he does. I, for one, can't wait to hear it.
And maybe the fact that he seems to have chosen to write his own statement this time -- it's nearly unimaginable a professional publicity firm would put out something as inelegantly worded ("Myself and others?" "This thing?") as the latest A-Rod release without the insistence of its client -- signals that Rodriguez is about to take control of his own message rather than rely on others to speak for him.
Perhaps he'll even allow himself to be interviewed, an extremely risky proposition at best.
But the fact is his continued silence and hiding behind official statements only makes it appear he has something to hide.
And it leaves us to speculate on what is actually going through his head as this scandal continues to unfold and swirl around him.
The fact is Alex Rodriguez has yet to pay a penalty for any of his transgressions, real or alleged, since he became a major league ballplayer -- unless you consider having to sit before a grilling from Peter Gammons punishment.
He got away with his admission of steroid use because it occurred, he said, during the time when baseball not only allowed the use, but tacitly condoned it. So far as we know, he has never failed a drug test and under the terms of the CBA, hysterical tabloid headlines notwithstanding, would still be a first offender.
He was warned by the Yankees to stay away from high-stakes poker games in 2005. He continued to play in them anyway. He was instructed to not associate with his cousin Yuri Sucart, whom A-Rod had fingered himself as his drug mule when he was with the Texas Rangers. As soon as he got the chance, he brought cousin Yuri back.
In both instances, he got no more than a stern talking-to.
He didn't even pay a price for opting out of his Yankees contract in direct defiance of co-owner Hank Steinbrenner and general manager Brian Cashman, both of whom said publicly that Rodriguez if opted out, he was done as a Yankee.
It's hard to see how a man who has so deftly avoided consequences for so long would have any reason to think he will suffer any this time.
Call it denial if you like, or call it understanding the way the game is played. But from all outward appearances, Alex Rodriguez seems to be treating the Biogenesis affair as less of an annoyance than his second hip surgery.
But is that really what is going on in his private moments?
Does he really think he will skate free again simply because he is Alex Rodriguez, the Teflon ballplayer to whom nothing bad ever seems to stick?
Or does he know something about the Biogenesis case and Tony Bosch that we don't know, something that will turn the entire affair on its head?
Even with all we think we know about the case so far, it is not going to be easy for MLB to prove the things it needs to prove to nail A-Rod and Ryan Braun and the alleged 18 others in its crosshairs.
As far as we know, they have no positive drug samples on any of these players, just some handwritten records from a man whose word is in serious question -- we know that he tried to pass himself off as a doctor -- and who, if the latest reports are to be believed, is desperate for money and willing to sell his story for the best possible deal.
That automatically casts doubt on anything Bosch tells anyone about anything, the same way Brian McNamee's story about Roger Clemens was forever tainted by a shady past and a clear resentment of the man he was testifying against.
Maybe Rodriguez is banking on that -- that Bosch is too disreputable a character to bring him down -- and that MLB's case will never convince an arbitrator, the same way a federal prosecutor could not convince a jury that Clemens should go down for perjury.
Or maybe he does have a credible story to tell, and some concrete evidence that this time the witch hunt is real and the "witch" is blameless.
But we'd never know it from the prepared statements Rodriguez has been passing off as denials or the enigmatic smirk he flashes that is supposed to denote confidence.
Of all the things we know about the Biogenesis case, and we know plenty, the thoughts that run through Alex Rodriguez's mind as this drama plays out remain truly unknowable.
3hMatt Walks, ESPN.com
4hAnthony Witrado, Special to ESPN.com
1dAnthony Witrado, Special to ESPN.com