The Tenth Inning Week 19 – Alex Rodriguez ]]> include($base_url . “/includes/header.htm”); ?>
By Mike Ivcic
The most frustrating thing about being a baseball fan on August 5, 2013 is that most of the talk surrounding the sport isn’t about teams like the Braves, Royals, and Dodgers who have had a tremendous start to the second-half of the season. It’s also not about teams like the Angels, Blue Jays, and Phillies who, despite a truckload of big names and high salaries, have all slumped mightily this season and will, barring what would be the greatest two-month surge in baseball history, miss the playoffs. It’s not even the talk of the potential for Clayton Kershaw, Matt Harvey, or both, to break the all-time ERA record, or for Chris Davis to challenge the hallowed 61 homerun mark, or for Miguel Cabrera shooting for his second straight triple crown. No, instead, all of the talk in baseball right now centers on the one company and one name that continue to haunt the sport – “Biogenesis” and “Alex Rodriguez.”
So, as a writer with a weekly column, I am thus obligated to produce content that also focuses on the hottest topic in the sport over the previous seven days. Without question, A-Rod and the Biogenesis scandal have dwarfed every other baseball storyline – including everything mentioned above and the trading deadline. But the other part of my job as a weekly columnist is to provide some sort of slant, opinion, or information that has otherwise gone unmentioned. What would be the point in reading this column if it was just repetition of prior comments made elsewhere? So allow me, if you will, the opportunity to delve into the psyche of the man that’s towering over every other player in the sport right now.
Welcome to the psychological profile of Alex Rodriguez.
To start, let’s first-off dismiss all of the back-and-forth between A-Rod and the Yankees, as well as between A-Rod and the commissioner’s office. Whether or not one side tried to negotiate and the other didn’t, regardless of who held up the talks and who was willing to broker a deal, is irrelevant when looking at the reasons why Rodriguez is doing what he’s doing. Yes, it’s most certainly true that A-Rod is marching to the beat of his own drummer – that much everyone can plainly see. But what is it about the Yankee third baseman that has made him so determined to be the one player who doesn’t go quietly into the night accepting whatever suspension the commissioner deems worthy, like first Ryan Braun and now 12 other players have done?
At his core, Rodriguez is a narcissist. Again, this probably isn’t anything groundbreaking. His constant self-comparison to Ken Griffey Jr. in Seattle has been very underreported, especially considering the internet was still in its infancy during their years together, but so many accounts say A-Rod not only tried to emulate Griffey, but also wanted to ultimately be viewed as better than the face of the Mariners franchise. That motivation to be considered “the best” was also never really given its proper consideration when he signed the mega-deal with Texas – going from the massively huge pitcher-friendly park of Safeco Field to the homer-happy haven of the Ballpark at Arlington. According to Rodriguez, it was somewhere during that time that he also began using steroids, presumably seeing the accolades showered upon Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Barry Bonds and craving that same level of attention and admiration. A-Rod wasn’t content with being “one of the best,” he wanted to be “the best” – just like Bonds. The difference is that Rodriguez always had at least a decent sense of the media and his own persona – he wanted to be the best and have everyone fawning over him, as opposed to Bonds wanting to be the best out of arrogance and spite.
As such, A-Rod has always been keenly and acutely aware of how the public perceives him, which is exactly what lead to his initial confession four years ago. Like a good media steward, Rodriguez got out in front of the story, controlled the flow of information, and appeared genuinely contrite for having used PED’s during his time in Texas. A-Rod saw the clear difference in the way the masses viewed a guy like Andy Pettitte as opposed to Bonds and Roger Clemens, and he carefully crafted a way to put himself into a category with the former instead of the latter two. Again, every step of the way Rodriguez was concerned only with his own image and his own personal gain – nothing was ever done for the good of his team, the league, or the sport as a whole.
That brings us to this entire saga. It’s probably safe to assume that Rodriguez – like Braun, Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta, and the rest of the group linked to Biogenesis – never expected Tony Bosch to squeal to federal prosecutors and surrender his list of high-profile clients. Thus, he never really had a chance to control this story as he was able to do with his previous PED admittance. To make matters worse, Rodriguez had to be having nightmarish visions of seeing his chance at passing Bonds as the all-time homerun king going up in flames, especially considering his hip injury that has kept him from playing in a single game this season thus far. At 38-years-old with no chance of being able to use steroids to prolong his career, A-Rod was at a crossroads. He could cooperate with the rest of the group, take whatever suspension Bud Selig doled out, and shoot to comeback after the suspension – likely sometime in 2014 or at worst the start of 2015 (at the age of 40) – and resume his chase at Bonds. Or he could fight the penalty, get back on the field in 2013, and give himself the best chance to produce results before his body finally gives in completely and he’s no longer able to be a productive major league player.
Obviously, Rodriguez chose the second option, but the final point here is also one that hasn’t been mentioned nearly enough. Had Rodriguez cooperated with Selig and his minions and received the same suspension he’s expected to receive – the remainder of 2013 and all of 2014 – and then, for whatever reason, managed to not play in another major league game, the Yankees may have been able to void the remainder of his contract and maybe even recoup some of the money they paid him. At the very least, they would have been able to collect the insurance money for the period where A-Rod was hurt. Either way, Alex would have been costing himself potentially almost $100 million – plus dealing with whispers that perhaps the final few years of his career were tainted because of steroids. If, however, he’s able to return to the lineup tonight while he appeals the suspension and is able to produce any semblance of results for the Yankees, he simultaneously eliminates the possibility for the Yankees to claim any injury insurance money for the first four months of the year and silences talk of only being able to produce in the later stages of his career because of PED’s. Yes, it’s a long shot, but the first option was guaranteed to leave his legacy tainted without any shot of redemption. At least by fighting the suspension, Rodriguez gives himself one final shot to prove to everyone that he’s the best “clean” baseball player ever to live.
The problem is that at this point, no one believes that anyway. But such is the life of a narcissist – at the end of the day, the person he’s really trying to prove everything to… is himself.
Playoff “Dead” List
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