A-Rod, Yankees are trying to hijack the season

Posted Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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lebreton In Minnesota they gave the retiring Mariano Rivera a rocking chair made, appropriately, of broken bats.

The Kansas City Royals gave the great closer a donation to help renovate the church where Rivera’s wife serves as pastor.

In Cleveland, home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Indians presented Rivera with a gold record of his entry song, Metallica’s Enter Sandman.

And in Arlington, the Rangers gave him a cowboy hat and maybe the only western boots you’ll ever find here with the Yankees insignia on them.

The Mariano Rivera Farewell Tour has been one of the highlights of the summer.

Until last weekend, when Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees tried to hijack the baseball season.

Thirteen players were suspended earlier this month by Major League Baseball because of their involvement in the Biogenesis case. Twelve of them accepted their punishments without appeal.

Yet the 13th, Rodriguez, who faces a 211-game suspension, plays on. Rodriguez has rejoined the New York lineup despite — if the reports are correct — being the one who most tried to impede the investigation, to the point of allegedly bribing witnesses and destroying evidence.

Due process is a cherished thing, and I respect the major league players’ legally negotiated right to avail themselves of it. But if A-Rod, his new lawyer and his teammates are going to swear by Rodriguez’s union rights, they need to also understand that the rest of us — pitcher Ryan Dempster included — may find the reported evidence overwhelming and think he’s fraudulent as charged.

Baseball’s code of frontier justice is all about affronts and improprieties, both real and imagined. Aiming a fastball in the direction of a hitter’s hip is a common retaliation.

OK, so it took ex-Ranger Dempster four pitches Sunday night in Boston to finally land one in the vicinity of A-Rod’s wallet pocket. I fail to see, though, where manager Joe Girardi storming so vigorously from the dugout and Rodriguez’s teammates waving their fists fall under A-Rod’s union-negotiated rights.

No, this was just the Yankees showing their pinstriped posteriors, again, on ESPN.

On Tuesday, Dempster got what he had coming, a five-game suspension. That’s the way baseball go, as a more successful manager than Girardi once said.

But because the incident involved the Yankees, and because they were battling the rival Red Sox, and because the TV networks insist upon playing to the lowest common denominator of All Things Alex, we can forget about the Rivera farewells and the AL East race. All eyes, sure enough, were tuned in Monday to Rodriguez’s new lawyer, Joe Tacopina, who appears to know so little about his client that he insists A-Rod “should not serve one inning” of his 211-game suspension.

Some Yankee fans think it’s a witch hunt. Some side with the argument that the club is only trying to escape from the $86 million remaining on Rodriguez’s contract.

I don’t know if witchcraft comes in a bottle, but evidence does suggest that Rodriguez ingested just about everything else. And who can blame the Yankees for trying to divest themselves of an employee whose repeated lies and actions have damaged one of professional sport’s most respected brands?

Curiously, ESPN continues to post Twitter alerts after each home run that Rodriguez hits, counting down to Willie Mays’ 660.

Please stop it, ESPN.

And if the Yankees spend even one half-minute on their stadium video board, celebrating this A-Rod “milestone,” may they be rained upon with a thousand Ryan Dempster fastballs.

Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @gilebreton

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