But all of that just changed as SI.com dropped a stunner of a Saturday morning report. According to the site's sources, A-Rod tested positive for two anabolic steroids in 2003 when the league was figuring out if it needed to start random drug testing.
Ladies and gentlemen, whether you like it or not, please meet your dominant storyline of 2009.
Rodriguez's name appears on a list of 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball's '03 survey testing, SI's sources say. As part of a joint agreement with the MLB Players Association, the testing was conducted to determine if it was necessary to impose mandatory random drug testing across the major leagues in 2004.
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."
As noted by the report's authors, Selena Roberts and David Epstein, the penalties for a positive steroid test did not begin until 2004, so A-Rod isn't in danger of being suspended.
However, we all know that this is still a devastating report, if true. A-Rod's name has remained clear of being tainted with steroids and his eventual overtaking of Barry Bonds' home run record was once touted as the next "pure" thing to happen in sports. He's baseball's biggest star and plays in its biggest market. He's liable to be asked and reminded of this for the rest of his career. He was already a lightning rod for criticism and the one thing that could have him attract more criticism just happened.
On the bright side, the first question he receives when he reports to Yankees spring training next week won't be about Joe Torre's book.
Needless to say, we'll have more as this story develops.
- Major League Baseball