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Feb
05
2013

Off The Wall: A-Rod’s Two Step Has Become A Tired Waltz In New York

Steve Skinner’s living room is lined with old copies of Sports Illustrated. One by one, he’s taking them Off the Wall.

It has been nine years since Alex Rodriguez nearly became a member of the Red Sox. As Tom Verducci writes in the February 23, 2004 issue of Sports Illustrated:

Boston could have had Rodriguez in December for Ramirez, but after trying to restructure A-Rod‘s contract, it killed the deal because of a $15 million difference between what it was willing to pay Rodriguez and what the union would allow in the devaluation of A-Rod‘s contract.

Think about that. Manny Ramirez for Alex Rodriguez, and it could have been Boston’s problem.

Instead because of a combination of fate (the Yankees third baseman – and Boston killer – Aaron Boone hurt his leg playing basketball in the off season) and “A-Rod” backtracking on an insistence to remain a shortstop, the Yankees were able to put together a deal that brought the polarizing figure to New York.

The rest is history.

At the time the deal was made I hung the issue of SI on my wall in the family room, certain that the shortstop-turned-third baseman would push my favorite team into another series of World Championships and move into the pantheon of Yankee greats. Years down the road it would be a cherished addition to my collection. I just knew it.

I was wrong.

Sometime before the season starts I’m going to take the issue off my wall and replace it with something in which I can hold some pride – I’m eying one with Derek Jeter on the cover. This one was a mistake.

A-Rod hoists the World Series trophy in 2009 - the year he admitted to steroid use.

Yes, my Yankees would win a championship in 2009, and yes Alex Rodriguez put up some huge numbers after donning the pinstripes (in the first six years as a Yankee, Rodriguez hit .300 and averaged 40 HR and 119 RBI while winning two MVP awards), but it all “feels” tainted.

It will be exactly four years ago next week when “A-Rod” admitted to the world that he took anabolic steroids from 2001 to 2003 while with the Texas Rangers. He sat in a press conference and apologized to his teammates and fans for being naive and young in making the mistake. He was emotional, yet for some of us it still didn’t seem heartfelt and many wondered aloud if those really were the only years of his indiscretions.

Now following a decline in his performance that would be consistent with the advancement of time (since 2010 he is hitting .272 and averaging 21 HR, 81 RBI and 119 games played), and two hip surgeries, new allegations of the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) has surfaced. Alex has of course denied them.

I want to believe him. I want to say that the supposed “sources” quoted by the likes of ESPN and the Miami Herald aren’t reliable and that someone just has a vendetta against our recuperating third baseman. In this age of “catfishing” it’s possible isn’t it? I want so badly to point out that the recent deline, and the slow recovery of his hip injury is evidence that he couldn’t possibly be using PEDs. No one already under so much scrutiny (because of his HUGE contract) would be that stupid.

I read and re-read the articles already out there about the case, and I have listened to the “experts” who have thrown themselves into the controversy.

I just don’t know.

Rodriguez's off field exploits over-shadow his accomplishments on the diamond.

The one thing I do know is this: I’m tired of the soap opera that our hot corner has become and I’m tired of Alex Rodriguez’s issues off the diamond overshadowing everything he’s done on it.

The Yankees have Alex Rodriguez signed through 2018 and he is owed $28 million for his services (or in this case lack thereof) this season. It has become a financial anchor around my favorite team’s neck.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not one of those that holds a player to higher standards just because of the contract he signs. More power to him if he sold himself at a higher price. Who among us would turn down our employers if they offered to pay us millions for doing a job that we consciously know isn’t worth it? To quote Charlie Sheen’s character in the movie “Eight Men Out”: “I may be dumb, but I ain’t stupid”.

It is because of the contract that I think “A-Rod” has put pressure on himself to exceed his colleagues in the field of play, and perhaps that is where the temptation of finding the magic elixir has taken over. Like others that have gone before him by the names of Bonds and Clemens, his unquenchable thirst to be the best at all costs could have gotten the best of him. After all the saying is “Where there is smoke, there is fire”, and in this case there is plenty of smoke that others have documented.

Too much water has flowed underneath the bridge for me to ever look upon the Alex Rodriguez acquisition with any reverence.  There not only has been the off season disappointments of injury and controversy, but also the continued post season let downs. In 75 playoff and World Series games, “A-Rod” is hitting .263 with 13 HR and 41 RBI.  That is a far cry from his regular season career and it would seem when the pressure is on, Alex becomes very “average”.

Verducci writes in his article:

With the Rodriguez trade the other 29 franchises look on New York with further contempt not only because it makes the Yankees richer, but also because they were lucky.

At this point I think perhaps the Yankees are wondering just what kind of luck it was.

Steve Skinner writes for TheFanManifesto. He can be followed on twitter at @oswegos1.  The entire FanMan team can be followed on twitter at @TheFanManifesto, or liked on facebook by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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