The economy needs steroids, but Alex Rodriguez confesses he took 'em

The Congo War: a report by Al Jazeera from this past November.

The deadliest war since World War II — the slaughter in the Congo — drags on and on amid relatively little notice.

Arabs and Jews are still killing each other, and Israel's about to elect an even harder-line government.

The Taliban are seizing more and more of Afghanistan, where bloody battles with U.S. troops this spring promise to kill Americans at a shocking rate. (And Americans are still being blown up in Iraq.)

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The global economy is melting down, and a frighteningly high number of Americans are losing their jobs, their homes, their pensions, and their minds. And it's banks and hedge funds that are getting "stimulated."

We have a black president — can you imagine! — and even though he's relying on a disheartening number of the Clinton Era's schnooks and more conservative advisers (like Tim Geithner), he's smart, charismatic, and serious-minded, unlike George W. Bush.

But Barack Obama's task is more than daunting: He'll be delivering the worst economic news Americans have heard in 70 years — he's already calling this "the lost decade" — in addition to trying to solve problems that no other president has had to face.

Despite what Seeking Alpha urges this morning, let's get to the important news: Alex Rodriguez's steroid use.

Ultimately, the Yankee Rodriguez is a coward for not coming clean in front of Selena Roberts, who broke the story and has already enshrined him in baseball's Hall of Shame.

And if this is the big news, then jeers to the biggest sports-news organization, ESPN, for allowing Rodriguez to give his confession to Pete Gammons, a high priest of the game among sportswriters and a powerful figure to whom players have to genuflect.

If you were Selena Roberts — who had uncovered the steroid scoop (to Rodriguez's dismay) for Sports Illustrated, you would have the right to be pissed off that you didn't get a chance to confront Rodriguez yourself. After all, you were the lead writer of the story and Rodriguez not only wouldn't talk to you but accused you of "stalking" him and worse.

Gammons, who would go easier on Rodriguez because his goal is to protect the game instead of reporting on it, was a perfect choice for Rodriguez and ESPN, which not only ostensibly covers baseball but directly makes millions by broadcasting and touting it.

It's hard to believe that Rodriguez didn't get to choose his father confessor. And it's too bad that he got to choose, because Roberts, not Gammons, was the one armed with the information that would enable a reporter to call "bullshit" on what Rodriguez said.

You can bet that Roberts, a sportswriter who doesn't specialize in jocksniffing, probably knows more than any other reporter because she dug out the facts of Rodriguez's admission that he used steroids, but only from 2001 to 2003. She no doubt spoke with some of his teammates or at least insiders from that period. So there's a big difference between his having to face Gammons's softballs or Roberts's informed questions (the latter of which he hasn't addressed as I write this).

In any case, even with Gammons, Rodriguez's truth-telling is questionable. And assuming he is telling the truth about his steroid use and his feelings about it at he time, his current perspective on it is quite telling. It helps explain why his teammates have never been particularly fond of him.

Obsessed with his image, Rodriguez tells Gammons that he had "the greatest year of my career" in 2007. And that's the problem. In team sports, as fired Jets and Chiefs coach Herm Edwards famously said, "You play to win the game!"

Rodriguez hasn't delivered a championship to fans in the Bronx, so his "greatest year" doesn't mean much. He's all about himself, in a team sport with a long, long season in which players spend more time with their teammates than they do with their families. And teammates and fans see his selfishness.

As George Vecsey points out in this morning's Times, Rodriguez even had the temerity to rip Derek Jeter before he joined the Yankees, and Jeter — whose stats pale beside Rodriguez's — is widely seen by fans and teammates as the ultimate team player, especially because he doesn't seem obsessed with his stats.

[Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly said Selena Roberts works for ESPN, the same outlet as Pete Gammons. She doesn't.]

And now on to other news that might take your mind off the vitally important question of whether Rodriguez's use of steroids will doom his chances of being elected to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown...

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

Seeking Alpha: 'Obama's Economic Fix'

Last night's address was supposed to be about the economy. No one cares about Iran or A-Rod. Times change and the press needs to change with them.

New Republic: '¡Viva Chai!: The lefty hot spot in Obama's Washington'

N.Y. Daily News: 'Bam set to do 'Whatever it takes'

In his first White House news conference, Obama called for an about-face in the nation's philosophy on government's role in the marketplace as he pushed for passage of the biggest economic rescue package ever put before Congress.

N.Y. Times: 'Geithner Said to Have Prevailed on the Bailout'

The Treasury secretary opposed tougher conditions on financial institutions that were sought by presidential aides.

N.Y. Times: 'Facing Up to Some Truth Is a Start for Rodriguez' (George Vecsey)

N.Y. Post: 'LIAR. CHEAT. ALEX DROPS A-BOMB: I LIED'

Bloomberg: 'Geithner Says U.S. Financial System Badly Damaged, Needs Aid'

N.Y. Times: 'Video: Obama in Campaign Mode'

N.Y. Post: 'Tragic Hit Kid Back From Hell'

N.Y. Daily News: 'Voodoo made me drown my kids'

N.Y. Times: 'Local TV Stations Face Fuzzy Future'

Local stations face the prospect of being cut out of the picture as viewership declines and ad revenue spirals downward.

Seeking Alpha: 'How the World Almost Came to an End on September 18, 2008'

Bloomberg: 'Selling AIG to Scarce Buyers Becomes Mission Impossible for Paula Reynolds'

Jewish Daily Forward: 'A Presidential Plan For the Middle East'

Former President Jimmy Carter, out with a new book about achieving peace between Israelis and Palestinians, speaks with the Forward about the fallout from the recent war in Gaza, how his faith informs his views on the Middle East, and why he thinks Israel must talk to Hamas.

N.Y. Daily News: 'Stimulus bill narrowly survives Senate test vote'

Seeking Alpha: 'When Billions Look Like Pocket Change'

N.Y. Times: 'Rendition Case Under Bush Gets Obama Backing'

N.Y. Post: 'KEY FOR CAPTAIN MARVEL'

N.Y. Post: 'RABBI "ASSAULT"'

An elderly Long Island dentist yesterday told a judge that the key witness in an Israeli corruption probe once assaulted him over an unpaid tooth tab.

Bloomberg: 'JPMorgan Cracks Down on Unused Credit Lines as Banks Seek to Free Capital'

JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. are among lenders cutting back on $1.6 trillion of credit lines as they face increased demand for loans that threaten to drain capital.

N.Y. Times: 'Months After Plant Closed, Many Still Struggling'

Workers from a tool factory in Ohio have struggled to find jobs since the plant closed 10 months ago.

Jewish Daily Forward: 'A Voice for Jews of Color: Yavilah McCoy Advocates for Jewish Multiculturalism'

Growing up in an Orthodox household in Brooklyn and attending religious schools, Yavilah McCoy, the daughter of two Jewish converts, identified strongly with Judaism. But because she is black, her religious authenticity was sometimes called into question.

Bloomberg: 'Harvard's Holdren Wields Oscar-Winning Dire Warning for Obama Climate Job'

When David Letterman, the late-night TV host, needed a scientist to explain climate change on his show last April, he chose John Holdren, the Harvard University physicist who helped Al Gore earn an Academy Award.

N.Y. Times: 'Love in the Time of Prostate Cancer'

N.Y. Post: 'HASID "PERV" BAIL BATTLE'

A Hasidic Jew charged with rape and child pornography will stay jailed at least until tomorrow as lawyers argue over whether a $50,000 bail bond posted by his brother-in-law is legit...

N.Y. Daily News: 'From Bloomy with love: Safe Valentine's sex'

N.Y. Times: 'Battle Plans for Newspapers'

Most dailies in America are in dire straits. A group of contributors proposes some survival strategies.

Bloomberg: 'D.C.'s big doings in spotlight'

Stocks look set to start out modestly lower as investors cast their eyes to Washington, awaiting revamped bank-rescue plan, a final Senate vote on stimulus package and testimony by Fed's Bernanke.

N.Y. Post: 'VICTIM PREGNANT: SAD NEW TWIST IN WEST SIDE SLAY-SUICIDE LOVE TRIANGLE'

N.Y. Daily News: 'Anti-war lawmakers worry over Obama administration's plan for Afghanistan'

N.Y. Times: 'Taliban Haven in Pakistani City Raises Fears'

N.Y. Post: 'ISRAEL HEADED "RIGHT" IN ELEX'

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