The winding down of Alex Rodriguez’s storied career should have gone differently. Whether that end is this year, or next year, or a couple of years down the road, it should have looked a lot like that of Atlanta’s Chipper Jones, who upon announcing that 2012 would be his last season, was given a brief ceremony and a nice gift on his last road trip to a number of cities in which he played as a visiting player. For A-Rod, we don’t know when those last days in each city will be — if Major League Baseball had its wishes, those last stops would have already probably happened — but whenever they come, the Chipper Jones red-carpet treatment isn’t going to happen.
We’ll put those thoughts on hold and return to them in a moment to bring you the latest saga in this summer’s never-ending episodes of “As A-Rod’s World Turns.” Just when you think it couldn’t get worse for one of baseball’s all-time greats, Rodriguez is now being investigated for possible witness tampering as it relates to the Biogenesis scandal, which broke and January and got Rodriguez’s name at the front of the news for all the wrong reasons once again.
Rodriguez has always been dogged by allegations of selfishness and never seemed to be well-liked anywhere, but the last four years of his career, in particular, have been a train wreck. It started with a Sports Illustrated report in February 2009 that Rodriguez had tested positive for a number of performance-enhancing drugs as far back as 2003. A-Rod did the right thing — or so we thought — and admitted that yes, he’d used them from 2001 to 2003, but hadn’t since. Evidence from the Biogenesis probe screams loudly that he lied about that.
That’s not even close to being everything. In 2009, Rodriguez sought treatment from a Canadian doctor who was under investigation for distributing human growth hormone. Just last month, while rehabbing a quad injury that had been diagnosed by Yankees’ team doctors, Rodriguez got a second opinion from a physician which contradicted the Yankees’ take on things. As it turns out, this doctor’s under investigation for allegedly prescribing steroids to patients. In the midst of all these years, Rodriguez’s alleged chronic infidelity led to a divorce from his wife, with whom he has two children.
I write none of these things with any glee over Rodriguez’s downfall. While Rodriguez has been the butt of a ton of jokes and undoubtedly one A-Rod scandal after another has made quite a bit of money for the media, it takes a pathetic person to celebrate what’s happened to him. At one point, A-Rod seemed destined to be one of the top four or five ballplayers ever; that’s important alone, but what made him more significant was that he was a hero to so many kids, not to mention a father to two little girls. The world would have been a better place had Rodriguez taken his integrity with the seriousness of Tim Tebow.
Still, let’s call a spade a spade: it’s probably justice that Rodriguez had been given the nickname “A-Fraud” by Yankees teammates and clubhouse employees at one point.
The only question we can really ask next is, What’s next? A-Rod has sworn he’d fight any PED-related suspension, he’s evidently changed his tune after having his pants pulled down in front of everyone for the thousandth time, and word is that he’s negotiating a settlement with MLB that could keep him out of baseball until 2015.
Here’s a better idea for A-Rod: just get out altogether, right now.
Look, it’s never going to end well for Rodriguez. He’s 37 already, and his performance started a gradual decline at 31. Rodriguez was still a serviceable third baseman last year, but it won’t be long before he’s not even that — especially if he sits for another 20 months.
Of course, it’s not so much about the performance any more — and even if it were, and A-Rod came back and surprised us all by returning to being a good player, we’d all suspect it wasn’t on the up-and-up. It’s about dragging everyone through a new act of a tired, old play. It took baseball well over a decade before it started to deal with a drug scandal with any sort of effectiveness, and now as the sport finally takes its clean-up seriously, it’s having to devote so many resources to fight one of its worst offenders.
We’re all sick of it. Any time Rodriguez’s face pops up on TV or his name in a headline, we know its not good. He’s a burden to his team and to the game, and not much more.
That brings us back to Jones for a minute. Whereas his “farewell tour” included being showered with surfboards and cowboy hats and cheers from respectful opposing fans, A-Rod’s left too much water under the bridge to expect anything other than catcalls and boos at virtually any ballpark he visits — and that probably even includes his own. Perhaps Rodriguez either doesn’t care that he has virtually no remaining dignity or maybe he’s just that clueless, but whatever the case, it doesn’t matter — he needs to quit.
Rodriguez has dug his own grave, and surrounded himself with doctors and lawyers who’ve constantly given him bad counsel. If Rodriguez has any true friends left — and I hope he does — it’s time for them to speak up, and tell A-Rod to hang ‘em up. There’s just no way this will end well for anybody, but less damage will be done if the end is now.