By Jon Lane
Alex Rodriguez issued a mea culpa to the media, his team, his superiors and his viewing public Tuesday afternoon.
Great. Thank you A-Rod. Now we can move on.
Easier said than done. A-Rod lied about PEDs and Selena Roberts. He came across very strange with this story about “the cousin” and how they brought this over-the-counter substance from the Dominican Republic to the United States, and how his “cousin” injected him with this stuff for THREE seasons without any knowledge of potential side effects or long-term damage.
With A-Rod there are always more questions, and you know that this story – unfortunately – just will not go away. But quite frankly, I don’t want anymore. A-Rod is not going to give you anymore. His teammates are sick of talking about it; players who have been Yankees for a few years are fed up with the annual distractions that have descend upon Yankeeland like midges.
And you can debate until you’re dark blue about whether or not A-Rod belongs in the Hall of Fame. Let me break it down for you: The fact that he admitted he did it – unlike Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens or Mark McGwire – is a step in the right direction. Let this play out – and hopefully go away one of these years – for the rest of his career, wait five years after that and then decide.
Today, right here, right now. I’m through with this BS. Everyone I speak with are done with it and are anxious to talk baseball, talk about how this Yankees team is loaded on paper and whether it will translate to ultimate success on the field. Put it to you this way: The New York Daily News was forced to pull two of Anthony McCarron’s features, one on how Jesus Montero is Jorge Posada’s heir apparent at catcher and Phil Hughes’ approach to Spring Training 2009 – thanks to Alex Rodriguez.
The Yankees spent $400 million on people in the offseason. Nobody has cared. There’s heavy anticipation with the move into the new palace and excitement over what should be a hotly-contested battle for the AL East title between not two, but three teams, one which by the way is the Tampa Bay Rays, the reigning AL Champions. Few people are talking about it or anything else baseball-related, so time to change the subject.
Here’s my 2009 prognosis on Alex Rodriguez the baseball player.
A-Rod will have another HUGE season. The last time he got a heavy burden off his chest was 2007 when he admitted that he and Derek Jeter were no longer close friends. That season he batted .314 with 54 home runs (a franchise record by a right-handed hitter), 156 RBIs and 143 runs scored. This time King Kong is off his back (you’d like to think), he’s batting cleanup between Mark Teixeria and a healthy Hideki Matsui, and it’s an odd year. A-Rod won his MVPs in 2003, ’05 and ’07.
A couple of anecdotes from 2007: Gary Sheffield, traded from the Yankees to the Tigers that offseason, had a hunch about A-Rod in the spring, predicting a monster season. Then on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium, A-Rod misplayed a pop fly that dropped behind him in foul territory with two out in the first. He was 0-for-3 when he led off the seventh, fresh off the Yankees’ sixth-inning rally that tied the game. He poked a single to left, and then decided to take the game in his own hands by stealing second base – on his own – before scoring the tiebreaking run. In the eighth, his two-run homer iced the game. Fans who jeered him for the error and a strikeout about 90 minutes earlier showered him with cheers.
Doug Mientkiewicz, his Yankees teammate in ’07 who played with Rodriguez at Westminster Christian (Fla.) High School and is great with the media, told me this after the game:
“No one can ever possibly fathom what he has to go through, and I will never sit here and try to speak for him,” Mientkiewicz said. “The biggest thing for Alex is to relax and understand that you’re surrounded by 24 other guys who know how to play the game too.”
A-Rod’s insecurities need to be coddled and massaged. The Yankees will do that, like it or not, because they need a relaxed A-Rod who is “simply a baseball player” to win. And you know the deal in Yankeeland: Win or else.