He is a liar. He is a cheat. And now, as he fades from public life and hopefully never tries to slink back, Alex Rodriguez is a coward as well. There was a chance to regain a smidgen of our curiosity, if never our respect, if he and his exorbitantly priced legal team had proceeded to expose the suspicious inner workings of Major League Baseball, as Camp A-Rod had threatened for months.
Just as Jose Canseco taught us about the performance-enhancing-drugs culture in his tell-all book — in retrospect, he should have won a Pulitzer Prize — Rodriguez and his bulldogs could have shown how Bud Selig’s men used mob-like tactics to nail him and other wrongdoers in the Biogenesis scandal. Any insight that can educate the public about MLB’s role in the never-ending PED era is productive, remembering the complicit, turn-our-heads stance once taken by Selig and the owners before TV lined their pockets with sick money and Selig realized he had to go hard-line against PEDs to save his legacy before retirement.
“Vigilante justice,” Camp A-Rod cried.
“Witch hunt,” Camp A-Rod cried.
Hell, Rodriguez even stormed out of a hearing over the terms of his original 211-game suspension, took a limo to a New York sports-talk station, went on the air and said the entire process was rigged. He vowed to have more to say, much more.
In the end, Rodriguez only was telling us another lie. Of course, he had no chance legally of overturning what was reduced to a 162-game ban, but he and his boys still could have aired dirty laundry about the MLB mechanism. Instead, he decided to end a costly legal soap opera and stop fighting his new reality of a muddled life: As the one who got caught, promised to never use PEDs again, only to get caught a second time, he is the slimiest of all steroids villains. As he said in speaking to reporters last month in Mexico, he plans to “rest physically, mentally and to prepare for the future and to start a new chapter of my life.”
The good news is, that chapter will not be in Florida, where it was thought he might try to exacerbate the madness and attend Yankees’ camp. He’s leaving behind his former team in peace, knowing he has lost all but $2.86 million of his $25 million salary for 2014. That money has been funneled to a much-needed pitcher, Masahiro Tanaka, as the Yankees try to move forward and save face while the rival Boston Red Sox defend their third World Series title in 10 years.
Problem is, thanks to the albatross $275-million deal they gave him for 10 seasons, Rodriguez still has three years left when he is eligible to return next year. Rather than have him cause headaches at 39 and into his 40s, when he will be an aging and perhaps useless shell of his former dominant self, the Yankees likely will have no choice to pay off the remaining $61 million.
Let’s hope they do. Because I speak for a weary nation in saying no dirty athlete — Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Marion Jones, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa — makes us reach for the vomit bag as readily as Alex Rodriguez.