By Jon Lane
Here’s another example of the current perception surrounding Alex Rodriguez: A big Yankees fan works one of those coffee and danish stands here in Chelsea. We started talking about the team. Shaking his head, he asked, “What’s with A-Rod?”After I gave him a 30-second summary of what he’s endured since early February, and what he needs to do to alter the perception, the man replied, “He’s a player.”
I answered, “Yes he is. Probably the best in the game and the Yankees need him.”
The man countered, “He’s a ‘playa’ with the ladies.”
Whether it’s that New York Post cover of Rodriguez with that stripper in Toronto, his foot squarely in the mouth, PEDs, whatever, this is how the general population is remembering a three-time Most Valuable Player who is two seasons removed from setting a Yankees record for most home runs by a right-handed hitter (54).
Jim Kaat revealed a conversation he had with A-Rod in which he told him he’s “an easy target and it’s easy to pile on to the situation.” Very true — and now it’s Rodriguez’s time to begin re-writing his story. He’ll be in Colorado indefinitely, protected by the mountains and snow that measures to a skier’s delight. Chapter 1 will write itself — the fact that Rodriguez’s work ethic has never and will never be second-guessed.
Once he’s back in uniform, the next challenge is crucial yet simple: Play the game. Do what you did in 2007: Say little, give little and let it all out on the field, because ultimately that’s what fans care about. There’s still a ton of pages for Rodriguez to fill in his legacy book. It’s up to him to decide what he writes.