In her widely publicized book "A-Rod: The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez'', Sports Illustrated journalist Selena Roberts makes the case that Alex Rodriguez likely used steroids in high school and may have taken HGH while with the Yankees
But more interesting than the drug accusations is the psychological portrait of a needy Rodriguez desperately trying to be loved---by family, friends and the public---after his father deserted him when Rodriguez was 10 years old.
"I think like any child, you never want to be abandoned again. In order to sort of keep people near him, people close, please people, I think he always felt that he had to be better than good,'' Roberts said in a telephone interview Sunday.
But that need of acceptance quickly turned to egoism as the star slugger embraced his fame.
"He went through a phase where, I think, and maybe he's still going through the phase, I don't know, where he really I think felt as if he had transcended baseball and reached a different level with the public, on a higher celebrity level, than he was as a ballplayer,'' she said.
That celebrity only has increased in the past two years as he got interested in Kaballah, became friends with Madonna and divorced his wife Cynthia. While most Yankees who live in Manhattan take apartments on the East Side, convenient for traveling to the ballpark, Rodriguez has rented a $30,000-a-month apartment two blocks from Madonna's Manhattan residence on the West Side.
"I think it is a mystery in so many ways but I think what is not a mystery and what is in fact true from the teammates I've talked to and from the people around him is that he was infatuated with her,'' Roberts said. "I think a lot of people want to write it off as publicity and dismiss it easily as something that was manufactured, but you have to remember that real people did get hurt. There was divorce that was filed afterwards. There were a lot of changes in his life that were, you know, not about a publicity stunt.''
For much of his career, Rodriguez has shown what Roberts says is "a well-honed, very orchestrated personality. ... years in the making of trying to create a persona that would mesh well with the corporate world.'' At the same time, she writes "the abandoned boy within Alex Rodriguez made him particularly gullible to the influence of successful, authoritative men, so it was easy for (agent) Scott Boras to manipulate him like a sock puppet.''
Roberts said she remains hopeful for Rodriguez, who likely will rejoin the Yankees within a week following his recovery from hip surgery.
"I do think there's a very good Alex in there,'' said Roberts, who spent six months reporting and writing the book. "I think the good Alex has a very good shot at winning. I think the good Alex is there for all of us to see for the next nine years. ... No matter what stage he seems to go through, what sort of incarnation he seems to go through, I think that he is at heart a pretty tenderhearted person.''
The book's release was moved up to Monday because details of Rodriguez' possible drug use as a teenager and as a Yankee leaked out over the past week. Rodriguez has refused comment, and Yankees manager Joe Girardi questioned Sunday why the book was even written.