Mike Lupica Takes the Easy Way Out on Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez Apology Letter

Last week, when I wrote The Latest Alex Rodriguez Apology, I thought I was done talking about A-Rod’s suspension and off-the-field issues when it comes to A-Rod. But then Mike Lupica got all worked up about A-Rod’s hand-written apology and decided to write about it and tell Yankees fans how they feel and should feel when it comes to the guy who single-handedly carried them in the 2009 playoffs to the World Series and a championship.

So let’s look at Lupica’s “Alex Rodriguez Takes Easy Way Out” and pick it apart the way he picked apart A-Rod’s hand-written apology.

To the end with Alex Rodriguez you wouldn’t believe the guy if he told you water was wet, even if he wrote that out in the schoolboy cursive handwriting he used on Tuesday when he apologized to the fans for being a very bad boy.

I’m not sure if A-Rod actually wrote the letter, but if he did, he certainly has some nice penmanship. Easily “S+”- or “O”-worthy penmanship if we’re talking elementary school report cards. And we all know you can’t teach neat handwriting, it’s a gift, so A-Rod’s gifts clearly extend outside baseball.

I know A-Rod didn’t come up with the idea to write the letter or what the letter should say, but who cares? He doesn’t owe anyone an apology and I don’t think anyone would take any apology he gives sincerely, especially after he gave one six years ago and did the same exact thing he said he no longer does and would never do again. But clearly, some people feel they personally need A-Rod to say sorry to them. Mike Lupica is one of those people.

Maybe his handlers, the ones who have always done such a bang-up job for Rodriguez, thought he would look more sincere making it a handwritten note. Most fans reading it probably wanted to write one back: Shut up and get out.

Who are these “most fans” Lupica talks about? Actually, who are the “fans” he ever talks about? Lupica wants to pretend that he is so in touch with the common man and the fan, as if he were one himself, and not just a cynical sportswriter, who walks around the Yankee Stadium press box eating soft serve ice cream in jeans and a blazer while a game is going on.

As a Yankees fan, the last thing I wanted to do when I read A-Rod’s hand-written apology was to write one back to him that says: Shut up and get out. If anything, I would have written back and said: “No need to apologize. Just please hit 30 home runs with 125 RBIs this year because no one else is going to do it. If you do that, no one will boo you.”

So this is the way Rodriguez decides to play it, deciding not to hold some kind of press conference before spring training, opting out of the visual of his lawyer sitting next to him and telling him which questions he could answer, and which ones would require him to exercise his Fifth Amendment rights, so as not to face self-incrimination. But then DEA informants — it is exactly what Rodriguez is — rarely want to tell their stories in public.

What good would have come from an A-Rod press conference? What good has come from his hand-written apology? What good would have come if he went door-to-door apologizing to all of these “most fans” that supposedly want to tell him to “Shut up and get out”? A-Rod isn’t going to “get out” for three very basic reasons:

1. The Yankees owe Alex Rodriguez $61 million over the next three years and that’s not including his bonuses.

2. The Yankees have decided to cut back on spending and need a drawing card to sell tickets. A-Rod is that drawing card.

3. The Yankees don’t have a reliable power option for their offense and A-Rod is now one of many options (like Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann) that the Yankees are hoping they can possibly get lucky with.

The Yankees are a business and A-Rod helps their business.

He somehow never managed to tell a version of his relationship with a now-convicted drug dealer like Anthony Bosch at his own arbitration hearing, which means under oath.

Now he tries to control his own cockeyed narrative about his drug use — is he really going to try to convince us once again that he didn’t know what he was buying from Bosch and using? — with a written apology that is like a nuanced legal brief, one in which the only thing he really admits is that he did an historic amount of time.

If he is trying to “convince you once again” then that must mean that he convinced you once before? Did A-Rod actually convince you that he never knew what he was taking or buying or putting into his body? If he did convince you and you believed him then what else are you going around living your life believing that isn’t true?

It is one thing to tell his story to a writer or to the new commissioner, Rob Manfred, behind closed doors. Or to do the same thing, again behind closed doors to Hal Steinbrenner of the Yankees and his team president, Randy Levine, and his general manager, Brian Cashman. It would have been quite another thing for Rodriguez to have answered questions out in the open without a lawyer present.

Poor, Mike Lupica. A-Rod didn’t hold a press conference, so Lupica is going to have to do some work and brainstorm and think of something to write in February in the worst month for sports. Without A-Rod, where is he going to get a few free 500-word columns from?

And that really wasn’t the visual he wanted, taking questions from the New York media and the national media, then having to stop for whispered conversations with his current attorney, Jim Sharp, before he might say something contradictory to what he has already told the feds; and what he might eventually say as a witness in upcoming Biogenesis-related trials for (Cousin) Yuri Sucart and a former Miami coach named Lazer Collazo.

“I served the longest suspension in the history of the League for PED use,” he writes.

Notice the language here. Rodriguez never uses the word steroids, the way he never used that word back in 2009 when he begged everybody for his first second chance. He doesn’t say “my” PED use. Just PED use. Alex Rodriguez remains as cute as his handwriting, and slicker than spit.

Does Mike Lupica know what A-Rod used exactly? Not all PEDs are steroids, just like not all rectangles are squares.

“I accept the fact that many of you will not believe my apology or anything I say at this point,” he writes. “I understand and that’s on me.”

There you have it, Rodriguez’s own weird version of accountability. He really is a beauty, a dream character, mostly in his own mind. Even as he asks the fans to believe how sorry he is for everything he’s done, he admits that the same fans to whom he is speaking probably don’t believe he’s really sorry. It will come out in the ESPN piece written by J.R. Moehringer that Alex is in therapy these days. Of course he is. It is about time, and better late than never, for somebody who really could be the buffet at a psychiatrist’s convention.

Maybe his idea of a confessional is whatever he has been saying to Moehringer who, and you can bank on this, surely will be as skeptical about Rodriguez’s ability to tell the truth, about everything except snowfall amounts, as anybody else who has spent significant time with him during his time on the stage.

But nobody gets Rodriguez’s Oprah moment now in some big room or hall or under some circus tent somewhere, with a roomful of Oprah Winfreys firing questions at him the way Oprah fired them at Alex’s patron saint, Lance Armstrong. He takes his message to his fans, whoever the hell they are at this point in what is left of his career.

Last year, I wrote Ryan Braun Deserves the A-Rod Treatment for Fake Apology and J.R. Moehringer wrote for ESPN, Ryan Braun “Won an MVP, got busted for steroids, twice, called the tester an anti-Semite, lied his testes off, made chumps of his best friends, including Aaron Rodgers, and still doesn’t inspire a scintilla of the ill will that follows Rodriguez around like a nuclear cloud.” So why is it that A-Rod is still the face of PEDs and this era? Why is he such a horrible person for using PEDs, but players like Braun can return to normalcy and someone like Andy Pettitte can have his number retired by the Yankees?

I haven’t come across any Yankees fans who don’t want A-Rod back. I’m sure they are out there, but they can easily be swayed by a few early-season “A-Bomb from A-Rod” drops from John Sterling. If A-Rod is productive and helps the Yankees win, there won’t be a fan who won’t root for him if it means Ws and there won’t be a fan who won’t be happy with the Yankees winning if it involves an admitted PED user. There isn’t a fan of any team who is willing to trade wins for losses because of a PED user.

“I’m ready to put this chapter behind me,” Rodriguez writes, in script, stopping himself from putting it into verse the way Amar’e Stoudemire did on his way out of town.

Most of the fans to whom Rodriguez spoke on Tuesday — and from the heart! — are probably wishing that there was some way for Stoudemire to take Alex Rodriguez back to Texas with him.

“Most of the fans” who Lupica is making up are probably not relating Alex Rodriguez to Amar’e Stoudemire.

A-Rod and the Knicks. That’s all Mike Lupica has. Well, that and trying to be a political writer over the last few years as well. And also the Yankee Stadium press ice cream. Those four things. (I think he might still have a radio show too? So maybe five?)

He writes an open letter the way Ray Rice wrote an open letter in the Baltimore Sun. Rice did it because he needs a job. Rodriguez has one, a real good one with the New York Yankees, at least $61 million still coming to him over the next few years. Bosch, his drug dealer? He goes to jail now for 48 months, three months shy of the maximum sentence he could have gotten for operating the kind of drug ring he was operating.

Alex Rodriguez used performance-enhancing drugs. Ray Rice punched a woman in the face. As you can see, we have two very similar people here.

A-Rod broke the rules to stay healthy and gain a competitive advantage. The same rules that were broken and the same competitive advantage gained by the stars of Mike Lupica’s book Summer of ’98. Ah, good old, 1998. The tag line on Lupica’s book is “When Homers Flew, Records Fell, and Baseball Reclaimed America.” We all remember that magical season when baseball was  pure and clean and stand-up guys like Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa chased down Roger Maris’ 37-year-old record. I can’t believe A-Rod would try to tarnish a game and completely disrespect fellow players like McGwire and Sosa by choosing to use performance-enhancing drugs.

The star of that ring, still batting cleanup there, still a big name at Biogenesis, was Alex Rodriguez. He doesn’t go to jail. He goes to spring training. Is this a great country or what?

Alex Rodriguez is a baseball player, who used performance-enhancing drugs and because he tarnished records he should go to jail. That’s what Mike Lupica wants. He wants A-Rod in jail and not in Tampa at spring training. Do not pass GO, A-Rod, and do not collect $200.

Does Lupica think all performance-enhancing drug or steroid users should go to jail? They must have illegally bought steroids or drugs or supplements and who do you buy them from? Drug dealers, of course. Forget people like Chris Davis who was suspended for taking Adderall, that he was once allowed to take and is now allowed to take again. Like Lupica said about A-Rod, notice the language Davis used when he admitted to using Adderall. He said Adderall instead of steroids and all PEDs are steroids, so that tells us that Chris Davis used steroids, which he must have bought from a drug dealer. But Chris Davis doesn’t go to jail. He gets to go to spring training in Sarasota. Is this a great country or what?

He was going to be baseball’s all-time home run champ. Even after he admitted to being a drug user, he managed to have his best baseball October and lead the Yankees to a World Series. Judge me on what I do going forward, he said back in 2009. That is exactly what everybody has done.

Andddddd there it is. Mike Lupica, like every old-school baseball nerd is still heartbroken that Alex Rodriguez didn’t turn out to be who they thought he would be and could be or who they thought he should be. He was supposed to be the star of this generation and maybe the best player ever. He was supposed to save the game and the home-run record from Barry Bonds, but instead he ended be just like Bonds. How dare a baseball player who once signed a 10-year, $252 million contract and opted out of it to sign a 10-year, $275 million contract let everyone down. We should all expect more out of someone who made $197,530.86 per game for two years (2009 and 2010) to play baseball.

Now he is back, panhandling for redemption and another second chance, trying to make one last first impression, the richest drug informant in all of baseball history. One more record for Alex Rodriguez.

Now he is back, with there years left on his contract, and a chance to do what he did six years ago when this happened: help the Yankees win the World Series. And if he does that, no one will care what he wrote in his letter or that he didn’t hold a press conference that Lupica wouldn’t have even attended, all so he could  mail in another “column”.

Winning cures everything and the last time A-Rod was in this spot, he won.

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