How SI's report affects A-Rod, the Yanks and MLB (cont.)
SI.com: Rodriguez already had a contentious relationship with Yankees fans. Does this destroy any chance of him eventually being embraced by New Yorkers?
Verducci: No, it's not destroyed. I don't think he'll be fully embraced, but if he plays at a high level the fans will at least like him. The down side is he has no capital with Yankees fans, so if he does not perform the backlash can be vicious.
SI.com: Do you think the Yankees knew about the failed test or had any idea about Rodriguez's steroid usage when they traded for him in 2004?
Verducci: I doubt very strongly the Yankees knew about the failed test or any steroid use.
SI.com: A-Rod was well on his way to Cooperstown. Does a positive test ruin his Hall of Fame candidacy?
Verducci: As of today, yes. Now that could change as people's positions soften over time and we learn even more about the era. And Rodriguez is not likely to be on a ballot until about 2023. Nobody can predict how baseball writers will regard The Steroid Era so far in the future.
SI.com: As Rodriguez continues to chase the all-time home run record, will we see the same public outcry that Barry Bonds had to endure during his chase of Hank Aaron?
Verducci: You'll get the same morality play about how the record is tainted. I would imagine the vitriol would be lessened, if only because we've been through all of it before.
SI.com: SI reported that MLBPA chief operating officer Gene Orza tipped off players about impending drug tests. How potentially damaging is this to the union and its relationship with management? Could it affect the collective bargaining agreement?
Verducci: This could be extremely damaging, threatening the gains in trust the two sides have made over the years. The SI report has to be shocking to MLB, to think it thought it had a partner in good faith negotiations to clean up the game, only to read the union is actively protecting possible drug cheats. This report potentially has enormous implications.
SI.com: Do you think this revelation will lead to other names coming out? What are the chances that the other 103 players who tested positive in the 2003 survey test are uncovered?
Verducci: I don't think this report itself makes the revealing of other names more or less likely. I do think some people in the industry have been surprised none had come out thus far. I'm sure the other 103 players have been nervous all these years. I would imagine more names will come.
SI.com: It seems that the players' union completely failed Rodriguez by allowing this information to become public. Could Rodriguez take legal action against the union?
Verducci: I suppose that's possible if he thought there was negligence, but in reality I don't see Rodriguez and Scott Boras teaming up against their partners. Probably the biggest gaffe was the union's failure to destroy the samples in a timely fashion.
SI.com: Like you mentioned before, Canseco all but accused A-Rod of steroid use in his 2008 book Vindicated. Although Canseco's allegations in both of his books were initially met with great skepticism, how do you think SI's report affects Canseco's credibility?
Verducci: It does shed more credibility on Canseco, but my issue with Canseco is that he has written two books and offered a very low threshold of evidence connecting Rodriguez to steroids.
SI.com: How many hits can Major League Baseball take before the public begins to really sour on the game?
Verducci: Get ready for some more, given the Bonds trial, the [Roger] Clemens and [Miguel] Tejada investigations, and the hundreds of other stories about The Steroid Era that remain beneath the surface of that dirty time. There will be more hits. But baseball will be OK as long as those hits are confined to that era in this age of discovery. You are not seeing major steroid stories coming out of behavior in the past few years. Baseball needs to keep reminding its fans that these hits are echoes from a different time in the game's history.
Jenkins: A-Rod's admission shows he's smarter than Bonds