The news of Alex Rodriguez's positive drug test brings us to a new point in the history of steroids in baseball. No longer can we feign surprise or be disappointed when news comes that a player is using performance enhancing drugs, because the use was just too widespread to be shocked that anyone in baseball failed a test in 2003.
There are always going to be players who try anything available to gain an advantage. That's especially true when there was no negative outcome for trying, although a recent article from Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus about advances in the steroid game gives you reason to feel differently.
That Alex Rodriguez was one of those players would be unfortunate, but, based on how much we already know about drug use in baseball at that time, it wouldn't make him a pariah. After all, he's only one of 104 names on a list, according to Sports Illustrated. That may be why he is stepping up and being honest about using the drugs.
Thanks to guys like Rafael Palmeiro and Roger Clemens, the denial route only reinforces the notion that you're guilty and just believe that you'll get away with it. Not saying anything at all might work for a lesser player playing in a different city, but Rodriguez wouldn't be able to keep that up under a daily barrage of questions.
After Rodriguez's confession, the truth of what baseball was in 2003 and before has to be taken into account. It's clear that baseball's clubhouses were a do-anything bachannal when it came to performance enhancing drugs, and that doing those drugs caused no alarm among teammates, managers or executives. That doesn't excuse behavior, but it offers some context. It's the difference between trying cocaine at a party and stealing to support your habit.
If it is the usage that bothers you, then there's no hope for Rodriguez. But if it is the culture of lying and arrogance about getting away with it that you find troubling, Rodriguez admitting everything should do something. He's the first superstar to come clean and the first one to stand up and show that he understands he did something wrong.
Confronting the truth head on is a massive step forward for the entire sport.