Give Alex Rodriguez this much, at least. He is up to the role of The Great Pretender. His life is on a fault line, shifting under him. His name disintegrates by degrees. His career runs away from him in scandal. But A-Rod prepared to step back into a batter’s box like business-as-usual Monday night, like everything wasn’t collapsing and the flames weren’t closing in.
Rodriguez earlier Monday had become the biggest star ever suspended by Major League Baseball for use of performance-enhancing drugs, a suspension set to commence Thursday and continue through the 2014 season, although he may continue to play until an appeal is heard. “I am disappointed with the penalty and intend to appeal,” he said — like the Yankees aren’t enough of a traveling circus!
So his futile fight, A-Rod’s Last Gasp, has begun. It is hopeless. Even if he wins, he loses. There is no courage or nobility in this gambit, only blind desperation.
How sad that everybody can see that except the man himself.
Quit the pretense.
It is time.
You have lost.
If Rodriguez is fighting this to save his good name, it’s too late. Performance-enhancing drugs now tarnish that formerly good name for all time.
If he is fighting to save what’s left of his baseball life, well, he is 38 and coming off two hip surgeries. His career hour-glass was down to diminishing grains under the best of circumstances.
If he is fighting for his legacy, it is beyond his control now. Irretrievable. The kingdom that once seemed his destiny — Cooperstown — has changed its locks for men like him. He is not welcome anymore.
Maybe Rodriguez is appealing for a shorter suspension simply because of the money involved. That certainly would not be at odds with the character flaw that might lead someone to cheat in the first place.
A suspension that amounts to 211 games would cost A-Rod right around $32 million in lost salary. He’ll also lose a $6 million bonus if he fails to hit 13 more home runs and reach 660 for his career.
MLB suspended 12 other players en masse Monday for PEDs — the Dirty Dozen — stemming from dealings with the now-closed Biogenesis clinic in Coral Gables. They included Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz and Tigers All-Star Jhonny Peralta. All 12 accepted 50-game suspensions without appeal.
Then there was A-Rod, still full of ugly pride or obstinate denial.
Baseball suspended him later in the day for what could prove tantamount to a lifetime ban given his age, and commissioner Bud Selig was direct in the explaining, citing the player’s “use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone, over the course of multiple years.” Rodriguez previously had admitted to steroid use earlier in his career. Selig also accuses A-Rod of obstruction and cover-up in the Biogenesis probe.
Monday would have been the perfect day for A-Rod to come clean, to finally be contrite and to admit his wrongdoing in the face of incriminating evidence.
Instead, he would delay the inevitable, impose his one-man carnival upon his team, and possibly even cause his own suspension to seep into the 2015 season.
Instead., the pretense continues.
Rodriguez is still playing the same card Ryan Braun tried 17 months ago, indignant at being accused, as if he were the victim. Is he delusional?