DATELINE _ Yankiverse. MLB yesterday suspended Alex Rodriguez for 500 games, allowing the Yankees to void his disastrous contract and seek a restraining order forbidding the star from ever coming within 200 feet of the team, allowing the victimized Steinbrenner family to offer a new, 15-year, $300 million mega-deal to Robbie Cano…
Well, it’s not yet in the books, but why wait? Everybody knows Alex Rodriguez is guilty. Just look at him! Must we go through the motions of a legal case? Come on, dammit, we’re wasting time. Until the Matlocks of MLB get the goods on A-Rod, Hal and Hank must keep paying him. Can’t we fast-forward to the final scene, where the planes topple him from the top of the Empire State Building? Put him down, now!
That’s not satire, by the way. It’s today’s line at New Jersey.com: “Enough with the pretending that he’s working his way back in Tampa… How about making sure he never wears No. 13 in pinstripes again, to making it a priority to finally rid this franchise of the distraction and sideshow that A-Rod had become long before the latest news.”
And then there’s Lupica, bless his heart, who at least adds a few qualifiers: “If he ever recovers from his latest hip surgery, he would become the kind of novelty act in Taiwan that Manny Ramirez has become. No wonder all these big guys from the Yankees have suddenly been liberated to talk about how “disappointed” they are in him.”
The Cotton Mathers of the press – vanishing in number but not vengeful spirit – are preparing their verdict: A-Rod is a liar, a cheat, a fraud, a juicer and – most of all – a mind-altering Svengali whose evil powers coaxed the innocent Yankee owners into a deliriously bad contract. Now, thanks to the good CSI-Miami crime team at MLB, the Steinbrenners have a way out. And Yankee fans everywhere should salute this loophole of hope.
Insert sigh here.
Listen: It’s lonely, defending A-Rod. In terms of sympathy, he falls somewhere between Oscar Pistorius and Lindsay Lohan. He’ll never never be the player he once was. He’ll never be a Yankee manager or a Fox Sports pundit. But a couple things here – in my idiotic mind – should be added to every A-Rod narrative – along with the words “if” and “would” and of course, the granddaddy word of all A-Rod journalism: “alleged.”
1. He didn’t force the Yankees to make that stupid deal. They tore up his old contract and begged him to sign an extension. When a team does something idiotic, why why why do the stooges of the media always blame the player? (Yes, I know: As blathering elements of the Yankees id, we at IIH often say horrible things about players. But I’d like to think we don’t blame them for the bad deals at the front office level. We say worse things about them.)
2. Enough with the Manny Ramirez comparisons! He’s never dogged it for the Yankees. I’ve never seen A-Rod jog out a grounder. Nobody’s ever accused him of phoning in a performance. If Brett Gardner slaps the ball from Bronson Arroyo’s hand next week, he’ll be a gritty player who does everything he can to win. But when Arod did it, he was a thug and a cheat. No, he certainly hasn’t always gotten the big hit, but he has always played hard. Lesser players at least get paid that tribute. Not A-Rod.
3. If he were hitting, still contributing, would the judgements still be so harsh? Sorry, but I don’t buy it. The Yankees won a World Championship in 2009 behind A-Rod. They stood 100 percent behind him then. Now, he’s older, he’s feeble, and he’s on the sidelines, and they’re willing to throw him overboard. I do not believe you can legitimately boo a guy – or run him out of town – for getting old. If they don’t want him, release him. They won’t. They’d rather crucify him.
4. Frankly, I don’t see where Arod has dodged the media. Last October, after the debacle, he took every bullet – right in the face. In fact, he appeared with a gob of soap hanging from his chin, and he never once blamed Girardi for throwing him overboard – (which Girardi did, by the way.) Some reporters get mad when he doesn’t grant interviews – and then madder when he does. Whatever he says, they start shooting. He will never satisfy them.
5. This will all play out. If A-rod was naive enough to think he could take PEDs and get away with it – after the carpet bombing of 2009 – well, he’s far dumber than we think. But consider this. He is probably a billionaire. He has access to the cutting edge of medicine, and he wants to use it to every possible advantage. As his body is breaking down with age, he spends his money on treatments and applications that other players cannot access. Did he go over the line? Is that line crystal clear? These are difficult questions – complicated questions. This isn’t a bang-bang play at first base. This is a guy’s life, his reputation, his legacy, his place in history. He won’t be able to buy it back. Innocent until proven guilty? What a joke. Not with A-rod.