NEW YORK , NY - As Alex Rodriguez learned earlier this week, players suspected of substance abuse don’t reach Cooperstown. Nor do they pass GO and collect $25 million.
With age and injury detracting from his performance anyway, the New York Yankees are probably thrilled they can spend that $25 million on a younger, hungrier, and cleaner player. Free agent Placido Polanco, who has won Gold Gloves at both second and third, comes to mind immediately — especially since newly-signed second baseman Brian Roberts is extremely injury- prone.
All his MVP awards, Gold Gloves, and home run crowns won’t mean squat when A-Roid becomes eligible for the Hall of Fame. In fact, he could fall off the ballot immediately by drawing less than 5 per cent of the vote.
It’s a shame, since Rodriguez once seemed like a cinch to become the first man to reach 800 home runs. Once a skinny shortstop for Seattle, he became a sudden slugger in Texas with a 57-homer season. The Ballpark at Arlington may be conducive to home runs but not that much.
If A-Roid’s legacy weren’t bad enough, he’s making a bad situation worse by appealing his case in federal court. He’ll lose but so will the Yankees, Bud Selig, and Major League Baseball. The 80-year-0ld Commissioner, who swears he’ll retire after this season, will be gone before Rodriguez plays again. And that’s assuming he does.
By next season, the righthanded slugger will be 39 — an age that might be good for Jack Benny but bad for a ballplayer who has already alienated his fans, his teammates, and the media hordes who follow his sordid situation.
Instead of denying his involvement when a mountain of evidence shows otherwise, Rodriguez would be wise to follow the lead of former Yankees teammate Andy Pettitte. He fessed up — something A-Rod should do too. Geez, even Chris Christie apologized when disaster struck.
Assuming his appeal fails, Rodriguez could still be a man without a team next season; the Yankees will try to find a way to void his contract. And what team would want an over-priced, over-the-hill druggie who doesn’t know when to quit?
As for the Yankees, their quest to play in October requires not only two more starting pitchers and a closer but also lots of infield help. Derek Jeter, pushing 40 himself, played only 17 games last year and has lost much of his agility at shortstop. DP partner Robby Cano jumped to Seattle after getting a 10-year contract worth $240 million.
Mark Teixeira, a switch-hitting slugger whose spring wrist injury ruined his season, has to prove his prowess at first base again. And third base has turned into the biggest manhole in the five boroughs. Unless the Yankees can talk Chipper Jones out of retirement, they’re going to needs lots of help — despite the heralded signings of catcher Brian McCann and outfielders Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury.
It would have been nice for A-Rod to accept his suspension instead of letting his team, and the game, twist in the wind. Like George Zimmerman, he’s not going away gracefully.