Alex Rodriguez would like to forget the past six months. The nightmare from 2009 is repeating itself.
After breaking his hand last July 25, Rodriguez' season (and perhaps career) started to spiral downward. Returning to the lineup in September, the Yankees looked primed for another World Series appearance in 2012.
That wouldn’t be the case. Rodriguez’ performance in the playoffs resulted in his benching (including being replaced by a pinch-hitter late in games), and the Yankees lost in the ALCS. The same Alex Rodriguez who signed a $275 million contract was being replaced when the team needed him most.
That has to leave a sour taste in his mouth.
I had no doubt in my mind this alone would cause him to come back stronger than ever in 2013. Then came the hip surgery where it was revealed he won't return until after the All-Star break, barring any setbacks. (Dr. Bryan Kelly has said the injury was not a result of steroid use.)
He also had hip surgery in early 2009 which forced him to miss the first few weeks of that season. On May 8 against Baltimore, A-Rod hit a three-run homer on the first pitch he saw.
Now, four years later, he has to deal with the latest steroid allegations that have taken over the news. His public image is being heavily scrutinized, and his credibility has plummeted.
The Yankees are waiting for the MLB (via Andrew Marchand of ESPN) to investigate and have been speculated to want to void his contract, but A-Rod doesn’t plan on retiring (via Wallace Matthews and Andrew Marchand of ESPN), and there aren’t many teams willing to trade for him. The New York Daily News ran a story citing unnamed sources that Rodriguez thinks someone is trying to sink his career (via Teri Thompson, Michael O'Keefe and Christian Red).
As I heard Mike Lupica say on ESPN New York 98.7 FM, Rodriguez is “as insecure as an aging actress.”
Sure, at this point, he’s a $114 million headache, but it will be very difficult for the Yankees to get out of the situation that is Alex Rodriguez.
Rodriguez is all about the spotlight. He’s been in Derek Jeter’s shadow his entire tenure with the Yankees. Despite all he’s accomplished in a Yankee uniform (the milestones he’s reached), he still hears the boos from the home crowd.
While it is clear his production has gone down in recent years, A-Rod is still one of the best hitters of all time. You could put an asterisk on that, but it can't deny what he's done on the baseball field.
I’m sure Rodriguez will do everything he can to get this horrible taste out of his mouth.
He came to New York to win. When the Yankees beat the Phillies in the 2009 World Series, it was in large part because of Rodriguez who went from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs in a calendar year.
The championship came eight months after he was in the spotlight for steroid use, which he admitted to. He didn’t have a choice. So, his legacy is already tainted. However, his public image, at least in New York, can be resurrected with a World Series ring. Hey, it happened in 2009.
I can guarantee Rodriguez will not go out like this. There’s no way. For a man who pays so much attention to how he’s perceived by the media, he can’t go out like this.
Now, it’s unrealistic to say he’s going to carry this team to glory by himself. All he needs to do is execute, throw together some good at-bats, and eventually, he’ll dig himself out of this hole. He has a talented group around him where he won’t need to do too much, just enough.
His swing was clearly impacted last year (he could barely move his front leg) as a result of his hip injury. If he can have the ability to move his hips through his swing there’s no reason to think he can’t be productive.
A source close to Rodriguez told Wallace Matthews and Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York he's working to get back on the field as soon as possible. The same article quotes Yankees GM Brain Cashman as saying, “Good,” in response.
For Rodriguez, all he needs is the support of his teammates. He just wants to be one of the guys, to be accepted in the clubhouse and by the fans.
Most importantly, he has to get back to baseball. If he’s not playing, he will never be able to escape these allegations.
Will A-Rod help the Yankees reach another World Series?
Sports Illustrated ran an article that said the Yankees players will support A-Rod. After all, he's part of the Yankee family.
We don’t know the whole story. We have to wait and see what A-Rod says when he addresses the media.
That could end up taking a while, as Rodriguez will be focused on his health and rehabilitation program.
He’s going to do everything humanly possible to get back to an All-Star level. His MVP days are behind him, but anything to get people talking about Alex Rodriguez and baseball will allow the Yankees to get past this scandal.
This is like deja-vu. Four years ago, we were saying the same thing. His career is over; he’s never going to win now. Then we watched A-Rod cry into the shoulder of manager Joe Girardi after the last out of the World Series. Everything went full circle.
The Yankees can get past these allegations; they deal with constant criticism every year. But, Rodriguez needs to overcome this story and get his story back on the right track. Maybe things will go full circle once again.