This story from investigative reporters Teri Thompson and Michael O’Keefe of the New York Daily News adds a funny little wrinkle — but probably nothing more — to the ongoing Alex Rodriguez PED saga.
A-Rod apparently went on a desperate hunt for performance-enhancers of any kind in early 2012, enlisting the help of former NFL linebacker and admitted steroid user Bill Romanowski to set up a meet-and-greet with BALCO founder Victor Conte.
Conte, who spent four months in prison in 2005 on BALCO-related charges, could not provide A-Rod with any illegal performance-enhancing drugs. But Conte did get A-Rod some legal supplements and has now relayed his entire experience with the veteran slugger to the Daily News. Here’s an excerpt:
[Conte] described how Rodriguez showed up uninvited on his doorstep in May 2012 with admitted BALCO steroid casualty Bill Romanowski, the former NFL linebacker, to discuss legal products that could give Rodriguez an edge.
Conte said Rodriguez had been trying to set up a sitdown through Romanowski for two months before they finally met, the day before the Yankees kicked off a three-game series with the Oakland A’s.
Romanowski had tried to convince Conte to fly to New York or Los Angeles to meet with Rodriguez, but Conte said he declined the offer.
“I flushed it out with Romo before they ever showed up at the office,” Conte said. “I clearly told Romo it (anything he could do for Rodriguez) was about legal performance enhancement.”
Conte’s daughter Veronica hand-delivered a package of over-the-counter supplements to A-Rod’s hotel room when the Yankees were playing in Oakland on May 25, 2012 and two packages of the same legal stuff were eventually shipped to Rodriguez at addresses in Miami Beach and Greenwich Village. Victor Conte told the Daily News that he spoke to Biogenesis founder Tony Bosch twice over the phone because A-Rod had referred to Bosch as his “nutrition guy” and Conte didn’t want to overlap certain supplement regimens.
In 2016, Red Sox starter Rick Porcello narrowly and controversially eked ahead of then-Tigers starter Justin Verlander in Cy Young Award balloting, winning on points 137 to 132. Verlander was not included at all in the top-five of two ballots, both coincidentally belonging to writers from the Tampa Bay chapter, MLB.com’s Bill Chastain and Fred Goodall of the Associated Press. Verlander had more first-place votes than Porcello, but being left out of the top-five on two ballots was the difference maker.
In the aftermath, Verlander’s then-fiancée Kate Upton fired off some angry tweets, as did Justin’s brother Ben.
Verlander was again in the running for the 2018 AL Cy Young Award. He again finished in second place, this time behind Blake Snell of the Rays. Snell had 17 first-place votes and 169 total points to Verlander’s 13 and 154. There weren’t any ballots that made a big difference like in 2016, but there were two odd ballots from the Tampa Bay chapter again.
If a chapter doesn’t have enough eligible voters, a voter from another chapter is chosen to represent that city. This year, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News was a replacement voter along with Mark Didtler, a freelancer for the Associated Press. Both writers voted for Snell in first place, reasonably. But neither writer put Verlander second, less reasonably, putting Corey Kluber there instead. Madden actually had Verlander fourth behind Athletics reliever Blake Treinen. Didtler had Treinen in fifth place. Two other writers had Verlander in third place: George A. King III of the New York Post and Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. The other 26 had Verlander in first or second place.
Voting Kluber ahead of Verlander doesn’t make any sense, especially we finally live in a world where a pitcher’s win-loss record isn’t valued highly. Kluber had 20 wins to Verlander’s 16 and pitched one more inning. In every other area, Verlander was better. ERA? Verlander led 2.52 to 2.89. Strikeouts? Verlander led 290 to 222. Strikeout rate? Verlander led 34.8% to 26.4%. Opponent batting average? Verlander led .198 to .222. FIP and xFIP? Verlander led both 2.78 and 3.03 to 3.12 and 3.08, respectively. And while Treinen had an excellent year, Verlander pitched 134 more innings, which is significant.
Upton had another tweet for the occasion: