Cumberland Times-News

Columns

July 27, 2013

Do the words ‘get out’ mean anything to Mr. Rodriguez?

Playing on a television screen near you, the sitcom “Alex: A Bronx Tail” has been delighting baseball executives nationwide, provided, of course, you are not a baseball executive for the New York Yankees.

The San Francisco Chronicle says, “This wacky (show) ... has a brilliant glow of intelligence behind the stupidness. It's easily the funniest (show) of the year,” while Variety calls it “A flat-out celebration of stupidity ... and pratfalls.”

Actually, those were reviews for the movie “Dumb & Dumber”, which is what exiled Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez appears to become with each passing day.

Rodriguez, of course, is under investigation by Major League Baseball for his reported ties to a Florida clinic accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs. Meanwhile, having made his minor league rehab from January hip surgery, he complained of leg pain last weekend, which the Yankees doctor diagnosed as a quadriceps strain. Thus, the Yankees said, Rodriguez’s return to the big league club, which they quietly hope will be around 2026, but was supposed to be last Monday, would be further delayed.

Smelling a rat, A-Rod, ever the wily one, sought the advice of an outside physician, who said he looked at an MRI and did not detect an injury. The outside physician in question was not Dr. Vinnie Boombatz but might as well have been, as Dr. Michael Gross is not on baseball’s list of doctors recommended for second opinions. Not only that, he had previously been reprimanded by New Jersey's board of medical examiners over steroid prescriptions, which, given all that surrounds A-Rod these days, comes directly from the theatre of the absurd.

And, oh yes, Dr. Gross admitted he never personally examined Rodriguez.

All of which has the Yankees’ boxers in a bunch, for not only did Rodriguez show up the club, he did not follow the procedure in baseball's labor contract, which requires him to provide written notice for a second medical opinion.

In the meantime, as though he hadn’t thrown enough gasoline on the fire, A-Rod went on WFAN on Thursday to express his disappointment with being sidelined. Asked if he trusted the Yankees, he said “Um ... I’d rather not get into that.”

What Yankees general manager Brian Cashman would likely prefer to see A-Rod get into is a car with a gentleman by the name of Clemenza. A month after saying “Alex should  just shut the (bleep) up” about how the Yankees were handling his rehab, Cashman has resorted to referring to him publicly as “Mr. Rodriguez,” making it sound as though the parties are already in court, where the matters of any suspensions and the remaining $86 million still owed to Rodriguez over the next four seasons will eventually be settled.

Baseball is reportedly going to hand down a suspension on the alleged two-time PED user, who is also alleged to have interfered with the MLB investigation on him, that will make Ryan Braun’s 65 days look like a weekend at Bernie’s. In the meantime, the Yankees are stuck with him, for better or for worse, with the actions of both the club and the player indicating neither is interested in better.

The Yankees, of course, have nobody to blame but themselves. Sure, six years ago Rodriguez was the best player in baseball coming off a 54-home run season. But agreeing to a 10-year, $275 million contract with a 32-year-old player was terribly foolish, as the Los Angeles Angels are discovering much sooner than they anticipated in Albert Pujols, who, at 33, can barely run in just the second year of his 10-year, $240 million deal.

Yes, Rodriguez was great in the 2009 postseason when the Bombers won their last World Series, but he’s missed most of the last three seasons to injury, which is easy for 30-something ballplayers who have played just under 2,600 regular season and postseason games to do.

At the same time, one must wonder what’s really going on and what will play out before next week, the earliest Rodriguez can return to the Yankees. The Yankees say publicly they want the third baseman back, although it is clear that they don’t. In the meantime, Rodriguez says he is ready to play and, regardless of what you think of him, you have to believe he would provide more offense at a position that has produced just four home runs this season. Yet there he sits in baseball purgatory.

Knowing that a suspension is likely, could this purgatory be the result of a secret MLB directive as to not compromise the pennant race, which the Yankees remarkably still find themselves in? That’s pure speculation to be sure. However, given that everybody is wondering what MLB is waiting for and given MLB has yet to say what Braun was suspended 65 games for, what else is there?

It is also easy to speculate that somewhere lawyers for MLB and lawyers for the not too terribly bright A-Rod are talking, and, in the immortal words of one William Zapf, “They know things that even we don’t know.” In this instance, in the case of one Mr. Rodriguez, they may be things we’ll never know.

Mike Burke is sports editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Write to him a mburke@times-news.com

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