Controversy has been a daily companion of Alex Rodriguez for 15 years now, ever since Tom Hicks thought the shortstop was worth a quarter-billion dollars and would take the Texas Rangers to new heights.
That was Rodriguez’s no-turning-back step into the dark side, though, in fairness, only a fool wouldn’t have taken that kind of cash. Still don’t like it? Blame Hicks for the contract, and Rodriguez for the enduring smugness.
The other stuff, namely the stuff he put in his body to make him the player he is, is all on him. Also included are all the lies and denials, dating Madonna, and the suspension that cost him the 2014 season.
The time away from the game, though, has done the baseball world some good in an out-of-sight, out-of-mind kind of way.
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No one outside of Yankee Stadium seems to care much about Rodriguez anymore.
The guy was exposed as a cheat — Biogenesis wasn’t the first time — and the paying public had a choice between outrage, forgiveness or indifference.
Indifference has lapped the field and has become Rodriguez’s new daily companion.
Where was all the outrage after Rodriguez’s chemically enhanced muscles and bat speed joined Willie Mays, and subsequently passed, for fourth on the all-time home run list? Lost somewhere in a mountain of yawns.
The biggest objection has been filed by his own team, the New York Yankees, and its desire to not pay Rodriguez bonuses for each player he ties on the homer list. The Yankees aren’t going to pay $6 million, citing the wording of a marketing contract, though an MLB arbitrator will decide that.
Meanwhile, the club is essentially thumbing its nose at the other milestones he has reached.
Next was a string of RBIs that moved him past Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Barry Bonds to No. 2 on the MLB-recognized, Elias-generated all-time RBI list, which counts RBIs only since they became an official stat in 1920. That shorts Ruth more than 200.
But there hasn’t been the uproar that pre-suspension Rodriguez wasn’t generated. There’s been more uproar over Elias than Rodriguez.
The Yankees might not be able to hold their tongues forever. Rodriguez entered the weekend 18 hits shy of 3,000.
Twenty-eight players have collected 3,000 hits in their career, and only three haven’t been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. One is Pete Rose, the all-time hits leader banned for gambling, and another is Rafael Palmeiro, who is another confirmed user of performance-enhancing drugs. The third is Derek Jeter, who retired last season.
Rodriguez will join Rose and Palmeiro in the 3,000-but-out club, barring the Hall of Fame electorate being replaced by Rodriguez’s long line of loyal cousins. The Yankees, though, might finally decide to end their silent treatment.
The Yankees care about Rodriguez to an extent. He can help them win games, and has with 11 homers, 27 RBIs and a .277/.372/.561 slash line entering Friday. They want to get something for all that money they’re paying him, and they have.
Fans last weekend during the Rangers’ visit to Yankee Stadium cheered him more loudly than any other player during pregame introductions. A Rodriguez No. 13 navy blue T-shirt is available at the Yankees team store at mlb.com via yankees.com for $27.99 plus shipping.
A potential problem with celebrating the 3,000th hit is not celebrating the 660th and 661st home run.
The Yankees are claiming they don’t owe Rodriguez the $6 million bonus because the PED link has made it an unmarketable feat. That’s why they ignored 660 and 661. So they can’t deem his 3,000 hits worthy of celebration, as many of them are the by-product of PEDs.
Of course, if arbitrator Fredric Horowitz sides with Rodriguez, don’t be surprised if the Yankees try to sell bags of infield dirt from the 3,000-hit game. And they won’t be for the low, low price of $27.99.
It all comes back to money with Rodriguez, doesn’t it? Only this time, no one outside of Yankee Stadium seems to care much at all.
Indifference has lapped the field and become Rodriguez’s new daily companion. That’s the way it should be.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760
Cardinals: Keep on keepin’ on atop NL Central, MLB.
Twins: Not a joke. Might not be a hotter team.
Nationals: If there is a hotter team, Washington is it.
Astros: Entered weekend with largest division lead in baseball.
Giants: Offense carrying the usually pitching-rich defending champs.
Brewers: Already 15 1/2 games out in the NL Central.
A’s: Still lousy, but get a gold star for Ron Washington hire.
Marlins: Next on Owner Loria’s manager wish list: Billy the Marlin.
Reds: If Bryan Price is axed, could next manager be Delino DeShields Sr.?
Phillies: Ryan Howard playing himself into a July trade candidate.