Tomorrow will mark Alex Rodriguez's first time answering questions in public from anyone outside of ESPN's Peter Gammons since news broke that he tested positive for steroids in 2003. The Yankees have scheduled a press conference for A-Rod at their spring training facilities in Tampa's Steinbrenner Field tomorrow.
Reports suggest the team is designing the the event to stick as close to the model set up by Andy Pettite last year, when he answered questions from reporters and admitted to using Human Growth Hormone. Along with Manager Joe Girardi, veteran teammates Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and Pettite are all expected to be in attendance, a show of unity replicating a year ago. Pettite told reporters, "I just shared how I felt at the time, the things I was going through. I was just honest with y'all."
In many ways tomorrow will not look like last year's press conference. A-Rod's admission to Gammons has been the story in all of sports and beyond and much of the story since last week's interview has been about everything not asked by ESPN. A-Rod should get ready for an aggressive field of reporters: The magazine that first broke the story, Sports Illustrated, says that reporters want to know specifically: What steroid did he take?; How often did he take it? Where did he get what he took from?
There's also cynicism towards A-Rod's confessions, much more than Pettite received after widely being praised for coming forward in a way that few (if any) of his peers had. While Rodriguez blamed his substance abuse on the pressure he felt after signing an enormous contract with the Texas Rangers, a Rangers beat reporter in Dallas recently said, "Alex thinks that he is cunning and sly, but the truth is that he is not exactly a budding Rhodes scholar. The pressure-in-Texas alibi ranks among his lamest alibis...If he wanted the team to play in snowshoes, they would have done it. There was never a whit of pressure on Rodriguez in Texas."
A-Rod's press conference will be at 1:30 tomorrow. The above cover from The New Yorker is not likely to get cartoonist Barry Blitt into as much hot water as the one he did a year ago.