We have been here before with Alex Rodriguez. Six years ago, A-Rod apologized at spring training after telling Peter Gammons on ESPN that he used PEDs in 2001, 2002 and 2003 with Texas, but only after Selena Roberts of Sports Illustrated told everyone that the man who could pass PED-user Barry Bonds’ home-run record was in fact a PED user himself.
I never believed that A-Rod stopped using PEDs before he got to the Yankees. If he had used them for three seasons in Texas, in which he hit 156 home runs with 395 RBIs, why would he stop taking anything that he took in Texas (and possibly Seattle) now that he was headed for a big market? If A-Rod truly wanted to play in Boston or New York after having watched his best friend Derek Jeter win four World Series in his first eight years in the league and after having watched all the attention placed on the 2003 ALCS as he was sitting home as AL MVP of a last-place 71-91 team, he certainly wasn’t going to risk a drop in production as he headed for either of baseball’s hottest markets as the focal point of the rivalry. Jesse Spano wasn’t about to stop using caffeine pills as she made a run at Stanford while also being part of Hot Sundae as they tried to become the girl version of New Kids on the Block and A-Rod wasn’t about to stop using whatever made him the best hitter in the league as he made a run at becoming the best player ever.
I didn’t care that A-Rod used PEDs in Texas, and since I never believed he stopped using them when he became a Yankee, I didn’t care about that either. And I certainly don’t care that he used them again, lied, got caught lying and is now admitting to his lies. I don’t care that he tried to sue the Yankees and withdrew his lawsuits or that the Yankees might have to pay him $6 million when he hits his sixth home run of the season.
The only thing I care about is that A-Rod’s off-the-field actions have once again caused all Yankees-related discussion to not be about actual baseball, and that discussion isn’t ending any time soon. We still have nine days until pitchers and catchers report and 14 days until the full team reports to Tampa and once the team reports, A-Rod will have to give another apology directed to his teammates and fans, identical to the one he gave six spring trainings ago. In a city where the basketball teams suck and the mainstream media pretends hockey doesn’t exist until the playoffs, the timing of A-Rod meeting with the Yankees couldn’t be better. When it comes to winter and A-Rod, Opening Day can’t come soon enough.
I won’t boo A-Rod on Opening Day because of what he did and I won’t boo him if he hits his 660th home run at the Stadium to tie Willie Mays or if he hits his 661st there to pass him the same way I didn’t boo him when he hit 600th there in 2010. (I would say I didn’t boo him when he hit his 500th either, but back then his quest for the record wasn’t tainted.) I won’t boo A-Rod for using PEDs or chasing an already-tainted record. I care about the Yankees winning and a healthy and good A-Rod helps the Yankees win. (But I would boo him if he went 0-for-32 or consistently came up short in a late-and-close situation.)
In the movie Celtic Pride, after Daniel Stern’s character Mike O’Hara splits up with his wife again, he has this exchange with Dan Akroyd’s character Jimmy Flaherty.
Mike: Carol and I split up again.
Mike: Yes, what are you smiling about?
Jimmy: Last time you broke up, the Celtics won the championship.
Mike: That thought crossed my mind.
So what am I smiling about? Well, the last time A-Rod got caught using PEDs, lied about it and then had to apologize, the Yankees went 103-59 in the regular season and won the World Series and A-Rod went 19-for-52 (.365) and hit six home runs with 18 RBIs in the postseason.
That thought crossed my mind.