03/20/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

A-Rod: Ah, Youth

It took no time at all to see at this afternoon's much-awaited press conference where Alex Rodriguez hoped to land the good ship Public Image. Yes, he said, quickly and little mournfully, he and he alone is to blame for the shame he has brought upon himself, the game, and the teammates he loves like a family.

Blame, yes.

Responsibility? That is a different matter.

Blame is easy in that it assumes no burden, no sense of volition. In addressing his use of performance-enhancing drugs, A-Rod assumed the tone of the philandering spouse who responds to the accusation of adultery by saying that it "just happened." That, of course, is also the response of a child.

So it was that Rodriguez built his wobbly defense upon the excuse of immaturity. Having not gone to college -- and yes, no son of his will miss out on that opportunity, he assured one and all -- he came too quickly to the big leagues, and as a result, embarked upon his career as something of a Peter Pan.

Professional sports are filled with young men who are similarity afflicted, having spent their formative years being fawned over by parents, coaches, boys and girls. When things go wrong they are left too often with too little capacity for insight because self-knowledge has never been demanded of them.

There are, of course, exceptions, and when those wiser heads speak, their observations serve to remind everyone of the great gulf that otherwise exists between themselves and their peers.
It is perhaps unfair, then, to measure Rodriguez by the standards of the grownups in his world. But his comments and apologia did serve a useful function -- and not merely as an exercise in putting things "behind him."

A-Rod told the world a great deal about himself today, and the view is not flattering. By portraying himself as a reformed man-child -- a burden, it seems, he carried with him well into his 20s -- he showed himself to be a man incapable of assuming responsibility for his actions.

He would have us believe that he did not really understand what, precisely, he was having injected into him, or for that matter whether it was being done correctly.

He would have us believe it because the sense here is that he is familiar mostly with people who have believed whatever he told them.

So it was that when asked if he had cheated, Rodriguez replied that that is left for for others to decide.

There was his moment, his pitch. And he let it pass him by.