The Yankees played poorly in the postseason. The whole team, not just one individual. It is actually amazing that the team even beat the Orioles in the Division Series. But Alex Rodriguez became the face of the Yankees’ struggles. We all know the story; Raul Ibanez hit for Rodriguez and hit 2 home runs, one to tie, one to win. Then Eric Chavez played for Rodriguez in the last game of the Yankees’ season. But the story goes deeper because Alex Rodriguez wasn’t healthy. Many fans, myself included, thought that Rodriguez’s hand wasn’t fully healed after he was hit by a Felix Hernandez pitch in July. But just weeks after the Yankees postseason exit, the team revealed that Rodriguez had done damage to his hip once again and would need surgery.
I thought the story was over. I thought the Yankees’ estimate of a July return was very ambitious. I liked the report that they could possibly collect insurance on Rodriguez’s contract. A contract that Brian Cashman, Hal Steinbrenner, and Randy Levine didn’t want to offer, but Hank Steinbrenner channeled his inner George and offered an absurd contract giving Rodriguez up to $30 million until he was 42 years old. At the time, the contract wasn’t thought to be terrible because he was A-Rod. He had always been healthy. He was always consistent. He was going to break Barry Bonds’s home run record and to the joy of many fans, put a clean name on top of baseball’s most sacred record. As we know, the contract has become an albatross. Hank has basically been kicked out by Hal. Rodriguez will be getting paid as a broken down 37 year old, let alone a 42 year old. Rodriguez won’t hit 763 home runs. And Rodriguez isn’t clean.
I have given up calling him A-Rod. I did this just before the playoffs started this year. I gave up the term when I realized that Alex Rodriguez was no longer the A-Rod that I watched as a kid in Seattle or Texas. No longer the A-Rod that I used in Backyard Baseball games or MLB Slugfest. I waited until September, because to be completely honest, Rodriguez was not playing poorly before he was hit by Hernandez in Seattle. Just 2 days earlier he smashed a 95 mph fastball over 400 feet in Safeco Field. At the time of his injury, he was still putting up at least respectable numbers. He had 15 home runs and 44 RBI to go along with a .276 batting average and a .358 on-base percentage. Not A-Rod numbers, but respectable for a third baseman.
It seemed obvious that Rodriguez would never return to the A-Rod level. There were various reasons: the steroid admission a few years ago, the hip injury that same year, injuries that held him to just 99 games in 2011, the injury that caused him to miss about a month and a half this season, and the surgery to fix his hip that was apparently the cause of his poor post season. Then came another surprise.
A doctor in Miami allegedly treated Rodriguez. Not just for any normal injury. No, Dr. Anthony Bosch claimed to have personally injected Alex Rodriguez with HGH. I cannot say I am surprised because I did not believe Rodriguez 4 years ago when he claimed that his steroid use was confined to his time in Texas. In 2009, Rodriguez claimed that he used PEDs in Texas because he wanted to live up to the expectations of his new big contract (the biggest in professional sports at the time), but then stopped when he was traded to the Yankees. Because that makes so much sense. Rodriguez used PEDs because of pressure to live up to a big contract so he stopped using PEDs when he moved to the city with the brightest lights and most pressure? So I cannot say that I am surprised that this report is coming out. I am surprised about how Rodriguez is handling it. Obviously someone who has always been clean would deny PED use, but he has already admitted PED use before. Rodriguez is climbing a very slippery slope.
As the MLB investigates the Miami doctor, Rodriguez has to know that a suspension from Major League Baseball could end his career. A first time PED offense is 50 games. Add that to the recovery time of Rodriguez’ surgery and Alex would miss almost all of the 2013 season. That would make him 38 entering 2014 and coming off a year where he barely played, if he plays at all. On top of that, the Yankees are looking into possible ways to void his contract, although that seems very unlikely. The Yankees have tried to void a contract because of PED use before, it didn’t work out very well (see: Giambi, Jason). So if a suspension follows and the Yankees cannot void the contract, Rodriguez rejoins the team in Tampa next February and gets right back to work, and oh by the way still gets paid $30 million dollars.
But lets just say the Yankees can find a way to void the contract. Who is taking a 38-year-old third baseman who is a shell of his former self and hasn’t played in nearly a year and a half? Maybe somebody takes a chance and gives him a minor league contract with an invite to Major League camp. But does Rodriguez drop to that level? Will he just call it quits? Everyone knows he has enough money that he can retire and his grandchildren could probably live comfortably. But does Rodriguez really want to walk away. Rodriguez is hated in Seattle for leaving, he is hated in Texas for reasons unknown, he is hated in Boston because the MLBPA wouldn’t let him go there, and he is hated in New York because he didn’t sign with the Mets in 2001, and he couldn’t perform under pressure with the Yankees. Rodriguez may never make the Hall of Fame, much like many other PED users (although I would put in the best players regardless of PED use). Rodriguez will not be welcomed back to stadiums by teams and fans. He has gone from A-Rod: superstar, cover athlete of MLB Slugfest 2003, to Alex Rodriguez: a player who cannot live up to his contract, cover athlete of SI because of his PED use, overshadowed by Derek Jeter, and overall disappointment.