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New York Yankees

What’s next for Alex Rodriguez?

Tim Brown on the gong show that is Alex Rodriguez’s ego

Maybe he finds a legal avenue back to the field. Maybe he barges into training camp, makes a spectacle of himself. Maybe he spends the summer on an endless loop, ascending and descending courthouse steps, lawyers in tow, smiling, waving, tan.

Pretending.

For it is a dire day when the inevitable comes, when the game goes away, when the infamous Tony Bosch releases a statement that comments on your misfortune, when the people who really believe in your cause wouldn’t fill a good-sized banquet table.

His league has turned on him. His employer is over him. His union has done all it can. His lawyers are getting rich, an hour at a time. Well, richer.

So, Alex Rodriguez is in his element.

And this is all so terrible. Maybe not terrible, but sad. Certainly sad.

“The number of games sadly comes as no surprise,” Rodriguez said in his statement, “as the deck has been stacked against me from day one.”

He blamed the system and the witness. He said he’d fight for his fellow players. He said he’d be back.

But what exactly was day one?

Perhaps it arrived with his first big contract, the one that would make him wealthy forever and brought the consequences of expectations and scrutiny beyond any that had come before.

Day one may have been the moment a friend, or a teammate, or a cousin told him he could be better through science, through this stuff in a vial that nobody else had to know about. Or it was the moment he gave into it, to testosterone and Primobolan, more than a decade ago. Or the day the survey tester showed up holding a cup.

Maybe it was the morning he looked in the mirror and no longer saw the kid out of Miami by way of Washington Heights, but rather an aging superstar whose body and skills were becoming less reliable. Could he live up to the second big contract, here, in New York, in the shadow of men who’d become iconic?

Was it the day he met Bosch? Was it the day he might have chosen to go along with it again? Into the teeth of a toughened drug program and a more vigilant commissioner?

Was that day one?

Or, no, when the clinic and its proprietor were exposed, and he had no choice but to lie about his relationship with Bosch, and to hope it would all go away. But things don’t go away anymore. Not things like that.

Yes, the league would investigate them all, but then it was about one man, about Rodriguez. And, probably, that’s the day one he was talking about, the day they came for him, when everyone else had surrendered. He’s right, of course, the deck was stacked and he knew it, because he’d lived it, so he would not walk away clean. The day ones were adding up.

Personally I think this is about “redeeming” his legacy so he can be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  It’s about ego and legacy more than anything, even if he is delusional to think even if he wins, he will be in the Hall.

The real winners in all of this is the New York Yankees who will probably try to void his contract and have all of that money they could be paying to a broken down third baseman and distraction and can now use it on reloading and trying to get back into the playoffs.

A-Rod is as successful on Twitter as in life

A-Rod has been on Twitter for a day and has already upset Brian Cashman and the Yankees

“You know what, when the Yankees want to announce something, [we will],” Cashman told ESPN New York. “Alex should just shut the f— up. That’s it. I’m going to call Alex now.”

Rodriguez tweeted Tuesday that he has been cleared to play in rehab games. Rodriguez’s comments seemed to contradict what Cashman told ESPN New York’s Wallace Matthews on Monday.

“Visit from Dr. [Bryan] Kelly over the weekend, who gave me the best news – the green light to play games again!” Rodriguez tweeted.

On Monday, Cashman shot down a report that Rodriguez had been given the go-ahead to play in games.

“He has not been cleared by our doctors to play in rehab games yet,” he said. “He’s getting closer. There’s no doubt about it. But we don’t have a date for him to start playing games yet. It could be July 1. It could also be July 5, or maybe June 25.”

Cashman explained that Dr. Kelly had no jurisdiction over Rodriguez’s rehab once the third baseman left New York to go to Tampa. Dr. Kelly had been approved by the team to perform the surgery and oversee Rodriguez’s recovery in New York.

Cashman ended up emailing Rodriguez and did not get an immediate response.

The Yankees’ relationship with Rodriguez has been tense since the end of the 2012 playoffs. Team officials were aware that Rodriguez asked for a woman’s phone number in the stands during Game 1 of an ALCS loss to the Detroit Tigers. Rodriguez was pinch-hit for and benched throughout the playoffs.

This isn’t the first eruption that Cashman has had this year over A-Rod and I doubt it will be his last.  Personally I think the Yankees are trying to come up with a strategy to let him go with cause so they can void his contract.  If this was Jeter doing it (not that the Captain would), it would have been handled very differently.

What happened to A-Rod

NBC Sports takes a look at the rise and fall of A-Rod

Rodriguez became a star almost instantly. In the 50 years leading up to 1996, only one 20-year-old shortstop — the Hall of Famer Robin Yount — had come to the plate 600 times in a season. It’s a rare thing to find a 20-year-old shortstop simply good enough to play every day in the big leagues. Yount, it should be said, was mostly overmatched – he hit .252 with two homers. Rodriguez at 20 hit .358 with 54 doubles and 36 homers and he finished second in the MVP balloting. There has never been a shortstop so good, so young.
He flashed all those tools and skills and traits that had amazed Allard Baird: Everyone talked about his joy for the game, his deference to teammates, his innocence. “On July 27,” Gerry Callahan wrote that year in a Sports Illustrated story called “The Fairest of Them All,” “Alex Rodriguez will turn 21, making him old enough to have a beer with his Seattle Mariners teammates. He says he’s not interested. ‘Can’t stand the taste,’ he says. Rodriguez has always felt more at home among milk drinkers.”

The story follows hits all the touchstones. Rodriguez was innocent. Rodriguez was humble. He loved playing in Seattle (“I can’t imagine playing anywhere else”). He was deferential to stars like Ken Griffey (“To me, Junior is just so special and so unique”). More than anything, he had his priorities straight (“My Mom always said, ‘I don’t care if you turn out to be a terrible ballplayer, I just want you to be a good person. … Like Cal (Ripken) or Dale Murphy. I want people to look at me and say, ‘He’s a good person.’”).

Reading the story now, you can’t help but wonder: Were there signs of the A-Rod who would emerge? The A-Rod who craved approval? The A-Rod who needed to be viewed as perfect? That’s amateur psychology drivel, of course, but it is worth mentioning that the one somewhat sour note of the story came in a quote from an unnamed teammate:

“Well, he’s definitely a good kid,” the teammate acknowledged. “But you know all that stuff like, ‘Oh gee, I’m just happy to be in the big leagues?’ Well, that’s an act. Don’t let him fool you. He knows how good he is. And he knows how good he’s going to be.”

Of now there is this part of A-Rod

In 2009, Sports Illustrated broke the story that Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003. Rodriguez soon came out and, in a shaky voice, admitted to using steroids the three years he played for Texas. “Back then, it was a different culture,” he said. “It was very loose. I was young.”

And, like that, Alex Rodriguez was stripped bare of his baseball performance in the minds of so many. “I feel personally betrayed. I feel deceived by Alex,” Tom Hicks the Ranger owner who gave Rodriguez the big deal, told reporters. Well, everyone was piling on, even owners who drove their team into bankruptcy. There were those who, for a while, gave some credence to the idea that Rodriguez had only used PEDs in the early 2000s, before official testing.

Then, in the last few weeks, the Miami New Times wrote a story that Rodriguez’s name was all over the records of the Biogenesis anti-aging clinic in Miami, and that many of those records allegedly connect him to PEDs. Rodriguez has said that the records are “not legitimate.”

Shortly after the report, anonymous New York Yankees officials leaked to numerous reporters that the team would explore opportunities to void the contract of Alex Rodriguez or get some relief. Rodriguez, who renegotiated his deal in 2008, and still has five years and $114 million left on it.

 

The Weekend In Sports

First the positives:

The negatives

  • Sure it is good to see the Houston Texans get an offense but boy do the Pittsburgh Steelers look old.  It’s early and you don’t want to count the Steelers out but I can’t help but wonder if there won’t be a drastically different looking Steelers roster for next season.
  • Let’s not talk about what happened in Green Bay.  Denver is not a very talented team yet.  Shanahan’s last couple of drafts were horrible and the only decent player that McDaniel’s brought in was Eric Decker.  It’s going to be a while until they are back on top.
  • What can you say about the Saskatchewan Roughriders other than they are not a very good team.  Grandpa coming back gave them a spark but I have been saying since last season that just because Ken Miller was a good assistant coach, it doesn’t make him a good personnel man.  That and I have been terrified of Brendan Taman running the team ever since they brought him in.  Look at what he did to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and how long it took them to recover.
  • Dear Buffalo Bills.  You lost to the Cincinnati Bengals.  Really?  Rookie QB, lame duck coach, apathetic fans and you still lost to them.  You should be ashamed.

Would this look good in my living room

It’s a 1/16 scale model of Ebbets Field during the 1955 World Series (Dodgers vs. the Yankees).  4 1/2 months, 1,100 hours and $4,500 later….

Model of Ebbets Field as it looked during the 1955 World Series Model of Ebbets Field as it looked during the 1955 World Series Model of Ebbets Field as it looked during the 1955 World Series Model of Ebbets Field as it looked during the 1955 World Series Model of Ebbets Field as it looked during the 1955 World Series

More information and a video of the model can be found here

I hate dat Derak Jeter

Several years ago I was in Boston and staying at the Midtown Hotel when it started on fire.

Fire at the Midtown Hotel in Boston  

As we were wandering out of the front door, these rather round, handlebar wearing mustache, firemen come waddling in to put out the fire.  You would expect these firemen to have their game faces on as they were facing danger and fire.  Nope.  This is what they said as we walked out the lobby and the first fireman came in.  “I hate dat Derak Jeter too!”  Only in Boston would a fireman’s hatred for the New York Yankees and Derek Jeter takes their focus away from fighting a fire.

I can’t even imagine what they are saying after Derek Jeter faked being hit by a pitch.

Yankee Stadium

yankee stadium

I was stunned when I saw this photo of Yankee Stadium and realized that it was an in-game photo and not batting practice.  Look at all of those empty $2500 seats.

I am not the only one who is noticing this.  This photo tells the story.

Full seats, empty seatsIt says that there are a lot of Yankee fans out there, they just can’t afford $2500 seats and $100,000 for seasons tickets.  Some will say this is a temporary economy thing but I think there is something to the idea that the uber-rich have other options for entertainment than heading down to Yankee Stadium while those who are passionate about the game, can’t afford to attend.  Does it send the message that the Yankees are no longer for them?

Perhaps the decision by the New York Mets to spend half the money on Citi Field is going to be a good one after all.  The Yankees could find themselves hurting over the decision to build this shrine.  My understanding is that the expensive seats subsidize the cheaper seats and pay most of the bills and cover the debt servicing.  The debt on Yankee Stadium stands at an incredible $1.3 billion

With all of those seats unsold and lots of empty luxury boxes, the stadium that was built to guarantee a competitive advantage could come back to haunt them as debt payments rival signing free agents.

Update: The New York Times noticed the same thing as well.

The empty seats are a fresh sign that the teams might have miscalculated how much fans and corporations were willing to spend, particularly during a deep recession. Whatever the reason, the teams are scrambling to comb over their $295- to $2,625-a-seat bald spots.

25 Improbable Players on MLB Rosters

 Sidney Ponson I enjoyed #11 from Yahoo! Sports.

Sidney Ponson. SP, New York Yankees: Fat. Popped twice for DUI. Beat up an Aruban judge and landed in jail. Got released by Texas for allegedly getting drunk and acting stupid at a hotel bar. And somehow on his sixth organization despite all that and a career ERA of 4.90.

You can read the rest here.

Barry Bonds

Barry Bonds A co-worker is slowly dying inside.  He is a lifelong New York Yankees fan.  Through the good and the bad.  The ups and the downs.  The ones that you grudgingly respect even as you mock them after the team flamed out in early October again.  The reason for his pain, the New York Yankees are thinking of bringing back Barry Bonds.

Hank Steinbrenner is said to have taken a major part or even the lead in discussions among club higherups about Bonds on Thursday, laying out the ramifications of a Bonds singing in terms of the clubhouse, the potential circus, the perception of a signing and branding aspects, all important issues to baseball’s most storied franchise.

He says that he will toss away a lifetime of cheering the Yankees and find a new team if the Yankees do sign him.  Of course he does have Brian Cashman on his side.

So when Cashman was asked on Friday if he had talked with Jeff Borris, the agent for Barry Bonds, he quickly amended his instinctive response.

“I wouldn’t say,” Cashman said, before waiting a moment and answering definitively. “I have not. I don’t want to take this down the wrong path.”

I am no fan of Barry Bonds but I do have a soft spot of the New York Yankees (partly because of Joe Torre and Brian Cashman) but after all of the damage Barry Bonds did to the game of baseball, I find it hard to believe that the Yankees would bring him back.  An aging, slowing, moody, out of shape slugger who is a horrible teammate.  That sounds like the kind of player that Tampa Bay used to sign, not the New York Yankees.