This could very well be LeAnne Schriber’s last column with the “Leader”, but at least she had a lot to talk about. The Ombudsman tackled all things A-Rod, and more importantly, the Peter Gammons-Larry King talk….

My own assessment is that Gammons asked the hard questions — Did you take steroids? For how long? Where did you get them? Did you lie to Katie Couric? — but that after getting Rodriguez’ opening admission of guilt, he did not press hard enough when Rodriguez gave evasive or self-serving answers to the what/where/when/why questions. I also think Gammons’ lack of follow-up was attributable, in large part, to his genuine sympathetic engagement in the human drama of what the viewer somewhat cynically called “Rodriguez’s first step toward personal redemption.”

Gammons told me, as well as other interviewers, that he was stunned by Rodriguez’ admission that he had taken banned substances for three years.

“When I talked informally with Alex the night before,” Gammons said, “I got the impression he was going to say whatever he tested positive for in 2003 was related to prescription drugs he had taken for a back injury in spring training.”

When Gammons returned the next day for the interview — which Rodriguez had first rescheduled from Sunday night to Monday morning, and then postponed again to early that afternoon — he was prepared, with input from several ESPN producers and reporters, to do a more prosecutorial interview than the one that transpired. But Rodriguez offered his unexpected admission of guilt after the first question, and, Gammons says, “Obviously, there was a shift in direction.”

“I realized right away that this was the first surefire, by his performance, Hall-of-Famer to admit this,” Gammons said, “and therefore I thought keeping him talking, and getting as much as I could out there, was very important. I really felt my first duty was to get his words onto my employer’s network.”

Interesting. I still think Gammons did a fine job, but this certainly sheds some light on his mindset during the sitdown. It’s always hard to conduct something like this under so much scrutiny and pressure, and you usually get a sense of revisionist history after the fact, but people criticizing Gammons should just give it a rest.

Gammons/A-Rod was no Frost/Nixon (ESPN)

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