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Sports & Fitness // Hot Air
Steve Murray

A Repentant A-Rod? Say It Ain’t So

Am I the only one who was disappointed to hear Alex Rodriguez claim that Major League Baseball may be doing him a favor with his season-long suspension – that the time away will do him some good?

Is it wrong to hope the yearlong exploration into the strangely fascinating world of self-delusion continues?

Probably.

At least to those with normal-operating minds.

No matter how you feel about A-Rod and his oneman war to rid baseball of its own self-aggrandizing, he’s been great for ratings.

Even with the full support of ESPN’s publicity machine behind him, Tim Tebow couldn’t maintain the story-line, and the worldwide leader needed a subject to push ratings. Tebow is a good guy with an inspirational story, but that gets boring. It was time for a bad boy.

Enter A-Rod.

There is nothing pedestrian about the Yankees third baseman.

He’s outrageous, handsome, jealous, imposing, talented, infuriating, laughable and even a bit sad. He could be reality TV’s greatest star. If Q ratings exist for semi-fictional stars of invented real-life dramas, A-Rod is a max-out talent.

Unlike the crafted story-lines designed to extract emotion from the viewer – usually self-superiority and anger – A-Rod is the real thing. Nothing’s scripted. Not even Uncle Si Robertson would pose as a centaur – an opossum maybe, but that would seem charming and fit into the simple, family-friendly humor that has made the Louisiana family stars. ARod posed as the half-man, half-horse creature because he thought it looked good.

That’s awesome in the most delusional way possible.

You may not want him dating your daughter, but he’s an amazing thrill ride that is equal parts thrilling and terrifying.

With each new report about his tie to Biogenesis and its own icky star, Rodriguez became even more defiant. Lacking any self-awareness or memory of how hubris can lead to even greater problems (Rafael Palmeiro, Roger Clemens, et al.), he lashed out at commissioner Bud Selig and the game he runs.

A-Rod’s legal team paid for evidence (so did baseball), he claimed to be a consultant for the anti-aging firm (hard to believe), said he is the victim of a conspiracy (could be), that he was fighting for his life (baseball life, no question) and was going to show up for spring training because he was suspended from games, not working out with his boys (classic!).

It’s not difficult to understand some of Rodriguez’s resentment. Major League Baseball condoned and profited from the use of performance-enhancing drugs, and the league’s current zeal to infiltrate the game’s drug culture goes way beyond self-interest.

Selig is trying to cover his backside, and Rodriguez is the perfect villain and scapegoat. That he is fighting back – at times ridiculously so – just fuels Selig’s resolve and the general public’s disgust over his refusal to admit any wrongdoing, and not being Derek Jeter. To quote Razor Ramon, “Say hello to the bad guy.”

Rodriguez could make things easier, quietly accept his suspension and move on. His Hall of Fame chances are gone, but even a yearlong absence isn’t a death knell.

Jhonny Peralta lost 50 games and then was rewarded with a $53 million contract from St. Louis. Rodriguez is further gone as a player and his suspension is longer, but if he can prove himself capable, someone will pay.

He’s 38, and in 2012 he hit .272 with 18 home runs, 57 RBI and 13 stolen bases in 122 games.

Perhaps until then he can work on his triple kiss.

smurray@midweek.com
Twitter @SteveMurray84

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