A(Rod) For Turbulent Times

michael eisnerCorrespondent IMarch 24, 2009

TAMPA - FEBRUARY 17: Infielder Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees talks during a press conference February 17, 2008 at the George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida. The Yankees third baseman admitted to taking a substance known as 'boli' acquired with his cousin in the Dominican Republic in 2001.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

You wouldn't know that the United States of America, and the World for that matter, is in the midst of the most dramatic financial calamity in history by paying attention to a large portion of the headlines.

Alex Rodriguez this, and A-Rod that.

First it was Madonna who ruffled A-Rod's tail-feathers. Then it was the steroid allegations that were later proved to be true thanks, in large part, to a "mea culpa" from A-Rod himself.

But it goes beyond that.

It seems as if the Media is obsessed with A-Rod's every move, despite the fact that there are more newsworthy stories out there that deserve to be told.

Last I checked, millions of homes were being foreclosed upon. Hundreds of thousands of jobs were being lost per month.

The stock market lost more than half of its value. Millionaires were being turned into paupers overnight.

And yet, A-Rod's hip surgery is front page news for days.

Society's obsession with everything A-Rod has really put a damper on what should have been a therapeutic start to a new season of baseball.

The offseason was exciting, to say the least. The Yankees signed three big-ticket free agents and the Dodgers re-upped with Manny Ramirez. The Rays could win it all this year.

But all of those things have paled in comparison to the travelling soap opera that is Alex Rodriguez.

There has never been a more polarizing figure than A-Rod in the history of baseball.

Ty Cobb was a known racist. Probably the fiercest of his day.

Babe Ruth was a womanizer and probably the most recognizable man in the United States back in the 1920s and 1930s. In fact, he was the first baseball player to make more money than the President of the United States.

"I had a better year than he did" Ruth once said of the President.

Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe were the David and Victoria Beckham of the 1950s.

And Pete Rose had a terrible gambling habit—one that eventually cost him his Plaque in Cooperstown and a lifetime banishment from baseball.

But, the truth is that none of these players have done anything that has potentially compromised the integrity of the holy grail of baseball lore—the statistic.

And that's really what it comes down to, isn't it?

The statistic is to baseball what eggs are to an omelet. An essential ingredient that would render the former impossible without it.

Had A-Rod just had a fling with Madonna, or cheated on his wife, or even got caught on film allegedly inhaling a bong, he'd still be considered arguably the greatest baseball player of his generation.

Ruth, Cobb and Rose held records that were so revered, it didn't really matter what they did off the field in the eyes of the record books. Ruth caroused, Cobb spewed hate and Rose placed a lot of bets on baseball.

But those three men never cheated the history books.

Whether it was 714 or 4,192 - they understood the reverence of the baseball statistic.

And no matter what happens with A-Rod going forward; whether he recuperates from his hip surgery and hits 300 more home runs in his career and never tests positive for steroids again, or whether he flames out quicker than Ken Griffey Jr., one thing is clear—A-Rod may understand Kaballah, but he does not understand the baseball statistic is a religion all by itself.

So in these turbulent times, where millionaires are turning to mush and property values are deflating faster than Star Jones after bypass surgery, it's important that the one of the last pure things in this great country of ours—the baseball statistic—stays that way.

Are you listening Commissioner Selig?


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