Bill Madden is, to use one of his favorite terms, the poster boy of PED outrage. Actually, Madden hardly ever talks about "PEDs," only steroids. To the steroid scolds, everything is steroids. Testosterone? That's steroids. Human growth hormone? Steroids. Amphetamines? Well, some guys were just looking for an edge, whether it was stealing signs or ingesting alphamethyl-phenethylamine. What's the difference?
Madden appeared on Mike Francesa's show on WFAN last week to talk about Alex Rodriguez, or "A-Rod," as he likes to be called. What Madden said was more or less a perfect illustration of why, in baseball's war between PED users and perpetually indignant drug scolds, I'm an anti-anti-steroidist.
Mike Francesa:What can you tell me that A-Rod has done, other than use steroids? We know there were a bunch of guys who used steroids. We know that there have been hundreds of players who used steroids. What makes A-Rod to the point where you have called him the Whitey Bulger of baseball?...
Bill Madden: I guess what you're going to have to see is what Major League Baseball —
MF: Do you know what it is?
BM: I have a pretty good idea.
MF: Can you shed some light on it for me?
BM: Well [pause] to the best of my ability I will. I mean —
MF: Go ahead.
BM: There has [sic] been multiple times he has sought to buy drugs. Multiple times that he has bought drugs. [pause] Uh, I'm a little — it's a little unclear as to whether they have actual evidence that he was injected with drugs.
Did you get that? Your first offense was trying to buy drugs. Your second offense was buying drugs. Finally, you used the drugs, for the third offense. Three strikes and you're out!
Lest you think I'm reading too much into Madden's comments or taking them out of context, he said the exact same thing two weeks before, but was more explicit:
Now, let’s just say for example, they have proof — good proof, legitimate proof, records, whatever — that Alex Rodriguez sought to buy drugs. That’s a violation. Now they have proof that Alex Rodriguez actually bought drugs. That’s a violation. Now they have proof that Alex Rodriguez was administered drugs. That’s a third violation.
Back to the interview ...
MF: But anybody who did steroids was injected with steroids, though, right?
BM: Well, I guess. Mike, I'm not a —
Lawyer? Were you about to say you're not a lawyer? Because you don't need to tell us that. We figured that out when you said taking drugs was really three different crimes.
Although, to be fair, prosecutors are notorious for larding frivolous technical charges on defendants in this way. If you authorized a bank transfer in the course of committing some other, larger crime, why that's wire fraud. But this construct, where preparing to violate the law, practically thinking about violating the law, constitutes a violation in itself, is so bonkers that it had to come from Bud Selig's office.
MF: But why is A-Rod so different than everybody else?
BM: Because he's the most [pause] He has had — he has the most offenses against the major league drug policy of any of these people.
MF: How do you figure? He had never been, before this case —
BM: You gotta see their evidence, Mike!
Later in the interview (44:36) Madden admits he hasn't seen the evidence:
MF: Are you going on someone's word, Bill, or have you seen evidence?
BM: I haven't personally seen evidence.
Madden is relying entirely on leaks from Major League Baseball.
MF: But Bill ... You didn't say this about Barry Bonds. You didn't say this about Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, all these guys. Why is A-Rod Whitey Bulger?
Whitey Bulger, for our younger readers, managed the Cardinals in the '80s. No wait, that's Whitey Herzog! Whitey Bulger is a mob boss who murdered dozens of people. Just like that sonofabitch A-Rod.
BM: Let me put it this way, Mike: Why are all the players in baseball coming out with these condemnations of A-Rod the way they are?
You know you're in trouble when you appeal to the authority of Ryan Dempster.
MF: Who did he kill? Who'd he run over? Has A-Rod ever been arrested? No! Why is he Whitey Bulger?
BM: He's been lying to public. He's been lying to the fans.
He's been lying to the people. He's been lying to the community. He's been lying to people who enjoy baseball ... That's, like, five things right there. What more do you want, Mike?
MF: Well, which guy who did steroids didn't lie to the public?
BM: How many of these players joined up with the Don Hooton organization to go before young kids and tell them about the evils of drugs? This guy did.
Hooton is the anti-steroid activist whose son committed suicide because of steroids, he avers. He's wrong, but no one wants to argue with a parent who lost a child. So much of today's anti-PED hysteria is based on the unfounded belief that steroids kill teens and gave Lyle Alzado brain cancer.
Regardless, Madden seems to be saying that A-Rod's real crime, what sets him apart from Guillermo Mota and Marlon Byrd and Miguel Tejada and Jay Gibbons (and dozens of others) is hypocrisy. A-Rod counseled our nation's youth to avoid sports drugs, all the while consuming sports drugs himself. It's okay to cheat on your wife so long as you don't go around declaring, "Cheating on your wife is wrong!"
MF: I'm not saying —
BM: This guy is a black eye to baseball, Mike.
It goes on and on. "Poster boy" this and "Public Enemy No. 1" that. "Steroids is [sic] the scourge of baseball. It is killing baseball," Madden says.
Wishing won't make it so, Max Mercy.