A-Rod's "Cyst," MJ, and Barry: How Sports Protect Their Superstars
Back in the mid-'90s, a player left his sport at the top of his game to pursue another sport: professional baseball.
That man was Michael Jordan, a three-time NBA champion and the best player in the sport of basketball.
Leaving after a third championship, MJ played for a minor league team and had many fans wondering, "Why?"
It was too mysterious to even question. The best was leaving, and that was that.
In 2005, Barry Bonds was approaching Hank Aaron's all-time Home Run Record. At the time, he was third on the all-time Homer list, behind Aaron and Ruth.
He was also at the center of the brewing steroid controversy, as BALCO, Greg Anderson, and others became household names. Bonds appeared in just 14 games that season, a season where he would have crept closer to Hank Aaron's mark.
Today, reports from Spring Training indicate that Alex Rodriguez will have hip surgery on Monday, and will miss up to 40 games, though I'm not sure how ESPN came up with that figure.
Again, this leaves us with more questions than answers: When did A-Rod find out about the cyst?
If the answer to that question is more than a month ago, then why did he wait so long to disclose the information?
Why now, with Spring Training in full swing, the World Baseball Classic about to start, and the beginning of Alex's path to redemption, would he get hip surgery?
The answer lies in the shady underworld of MLB.
Let us first take a walk down memory lane...
Back when Jordan "retired," word around the sports world was that MJ had a bit of a gambling problem, a problem that became public in the early '90s.
A friend of Jordan's claimed he had won over a million dollars from him on the golf course. After his affinity for casino gambling became public, his father was murdered.
So Jordan retired in October, 1993, and the NBA discontinued it's investigation of his gambling problem.
Pretty convenient, huh?
While Jordan was not officially suspended, are we really to believe that the best player of all time would walk away in his prime?
This was not a new challenge for Michael, this was a reprimand.
Bonds may have had a similar issue: he was being vilified for his alleged steroid use.
From 2000-2004, Bonds' power numbers took off. During that span, Bonds not only broke the home run record, hitting 73 in 2001, but he managed to hit over 40 in each of those five years.
In January 2005, Bud Selig unveiled the new steroid-testing policy that would soon take effect.
In March of that year, the United States Congress conducted a formal hearing in regards to baseball's new policy. This was the famous conference when McGwire said he wouldn't talk about the past and Palmeiro lied about his use of performance-enhancing drugs.
A week later, on March 22, 2005, Bonds announced that he could be out for the season in order to get surgery on his knee.
Clearly frustrated at being at the center of the steroid storm, Bonds said he would be back in April, only to get the procedure in May and announce that he was out for the year in August.
This all coming after his trainer, Greg Anderson, and Victor Conte, owner of BALCO, plead guilty to distributing steroids and money laundering.
Again, this was a move by MLB to take Bonds out of the spotlight when all of his associates were getting ready to do time.
Can you imagine what would happen if, midseason, Bonds had to testify and possibly do time? He could, so he had the surgery and missed the season. Convenient.
Now Alex Rodriguez, fresh off of his admission of steroids, went to Legend's Field, ready to redeem himself this upcoming season.
His teammates knew that he had to start out fast, making it clear that A-Rod could put up big numbers drug-free. He hit a homer in his first Spring Training game and was expected to be a key player for the Dominican team in the WBC.
Then it comes out that A-Rod was scheduled to meet with Major League Baseball, presumably to talk about steroids.
A-Rod refused to answer questions about the meeting or its parameters, choosing only to field "baseball questions." He had the meeting, was still scheduled to play for the Dominican Republic, and start Opening Day for the Yankees.
Suddenly, reports came out about a cyst on his hip.
People wondered whether or not this was a serious condition, but the consensus around the baseball world was that this wouldn't be a major issue for Rodriguez.
Joe Girardi even downplayed the cyst, suggesting that it was no big deal.
Today, it is reported that Rodriguez needs surgery on Monday and will miss up to two months while he recovers.
This just doesn't smell right.
He doesn't notice or take care of his cyst, and when he gets it looked at, they say he is out for two months.
To quote Ace Ventura, "You could get that done over the weekend!"
The timing throughout this entire ordeal is puzzling to me.
I'm not trying to downplay the severity of this alleged cyst, it just seems like once again MLB, and the sports world in general, is trying its damnedest to protect it's assets, it's megastars, it's money-earners.
Call me a conspiracy theorist, and I hope I'm wrong, but it wouldn't surprise me if this was a masked suspension for A-Rod, adding to the controversy that he attracts like a magnet.
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