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In effect, it's the end of A-Rod's career

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  August 5, 2013 03:24 PM

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Playing a Biogenesis-themed Nine Innings while wondering if A-Rod has any fans left other than himself ...

1. In Bud Selig's much-awaited and yet anticlimactic statements announcing Alex Rodriguez has been suspended through the 2014 season and twelve others are banned for 50 games, there's plenty of fodder for gossip if not a whole lot of precise detail. Selig confirmed that A-Rod, the Yankees' collapsed star, used were testosterone and human-growth hormone. He scolded him for "attempting to cover-up his violations of the program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner's investigation,'' which makes A-Rod sound like the most inept movie-of-the-week villain imaginable. Selig confirmed what we already were pretty sure we knew. But I'm still curious about the specific details MLB had, because to get everyone but the desperate and deluded A-Rod to agree to a suspension without appealing suggests stacks of damning evidence against everyone. It'll come out in time. Probably a short time.

2. I wonder if part of Selig's -- well, vindictiveness may be too strong a word, but certainly his determination in pursuing A-Rod -- comes from being played for the fool. MLB propped up A-Rod as All That's True and Right About the Game after the PED-era backlash from the phony 1998 home run chase, the Mitchell Era, and pretty much everything Barry Bonds did after his head expanded past a Size 8. A-Rod was going to restore the luster to the home run record; instead, he proved to be a fake among fakes. Though I suppose he does deserve credit for forgoing the it's-just-flaxseed defense.

3. Man, is it going to be weird seeing him in the Yankees lineup over the next couple of days. Joe Girardi has all but said he's sick of his stupid face, and it's hard to imagine his teammates are racing to embrace him given that there has been an apparent sea change for the better in how current players view the PED users among them. Wouldn't put it past him to put on a No. 2 jersey and run on the field pretending he's Derek Jeter, just to get a few stray cheers before the crowd catches on. Wouldn't be the first time he's tried to be Jeter.

4. This is it for him, you know. It makes very, very little difference whether he's banned for the rest of this season and all of next or for life, because it's pretty much all the same. He's 38 years old. He'll miss all of his age-39 season. He'll turn 40 on July 27, 2015. While he's been more valuable in recent seasons than conventional wisdom suggests -- he's never had an OPS+ lower than 113, and Fangraphs pegged his value last year at $8.8 million -- it's hard to imagine him having any value going forward. He'll be more than a year removed from the game, presumably without the substances that got him this ban, and he'll be wearing the scarlet "B" (for Bud, naturally) that will discourage anyone save for maybe Jeffrey Loria from signing him.

5 Worth remembering today: A-Rod would have come to the Red Sox in December 2003 -- with Manny Ramirez and Single-A lefty Jon Lester going to the Rangers and Nomar Garciaparra heading to the White Sox in a separate deal for Magglio Ordonez -- had the players' association not nixed a reworked contract that would have saved the Sox roughly $4 million per season. The calculus is too complicated to determine whether the Red Sox would have won a World Series or two over the past 10 years. But we know this: Had A-Rod come here, the magic of October 2004 never would have happened. To think most of us were upset when that deal crumbled.

6. Kevin Millar has never been a friend of silence, for better or worse. Mostly better, I'd say, the worse being a tie between every episode of "Intentional Talk." But his comments on Dec. 16, 2003 regarding the Red Sox' imminent acquisition of Rodriguez from the Rangers should remain on his short list of most regrettable comments a decade later: "When you're talking about a guy who's going to be a leader and be the face of the organization, that's Alex Rodriguez. Manny [Ramirez] leads in the batter's box and Nomar prepares himself to play hard every day, but you're talking about a leader in Alex Rodriguez."

7. Has there ever been anything genuine about A-Rod? He's always come across as a bad actor trying to conjure sincerity rather than a real person. And that applies to his playing career as well. It was lost in the original 2009 report about his failed test in 2003, but Selena Roberts, who broke the story for Sports Illustrated, also wrote that Rodriguez's high school teammates suspected him of using PEDs. We'll probably never know the true extent of his PED use, but it's fair to wonder, as Curt Schilling did, if he's as big a phony as Jose Canseco.

8. It doesn't feel right that players can be suspended for the remainder of the regular season but return for the playoffs. But it sets up an interesting dynamic in Detroit in particular, where the Tigers acquired Jose Iglesias from the Red Sox in advance of Jhonny Peralta's ban. Peralta has had a terrific offensive season, but the Tigers may find out in the interim that Iglesias's slick glove is a better fit given their defensive deficiencies in the infield. Of course, he has to hit a little. He has two hits in his first 11 at-bats with the Tigers, but one is a home run.

9. As for today's Completely Random Baseball Card:


So much for the irony-meter-shattering hope that the Rangers would respond to Nelson Cruz's suspension by calling up Manny Ramirez. He has just a .722 OPS in 99 plate appearances for Triple A Round Rock and it sounds like the end may be near.

About Touching All The Bases

Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.

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