“He’s a walkin’ contradiction, partly truth, partly fiction.” The Pilgrim, Chapter 33 by Kris Kristofferson
The Miami Herald reported last week that during a hearing with DEA investigators on January 29, Rodriguez admitted buying PEDs from Tony Bosch, operator of the now defunct Biogenesis anti-aging clinic in South Florida. A-Rod also told investigators that he knew what he was taking, testosterone cream, gummies and hormone injections, was illegal and a violation of baseball’s joint drug agreement. This is the same Alex Rodriguez who for two years had vehemently denied any involvement with Bosch or his clinic.
A-Rod’s admissions hardly came as a surprise to Major League Baseball. In August of 2013 the league suspended Rodriguez for 211 games based on written evidence linking him to Bosch. After an arbitrator reduced the penalty to the entire 2014 season, A-Rod took his case to the public promising an outright war to clear his name. Two weeks after the arbitrator’s ruling the feds came knocking with threats of prosecution unless he told the truth. When they also included an offer of immunity if he testified against others involved with Bosch, Rodriguez flipped. His “I am innocent” campaign folded quicker than the Democratic Party in last Tuesday’s election.
Rodriguez’ suspension was automatically lifted after the last out of the World Series making him eligible to report to the Yankees’ spring training camp in February. He will turn 40 next July, two years removed from any significant baseball activity. In addition to last year’s suspension he spent most of the 2013 season recovering from his second hip surgery along with other assorted injuries. While he is adamant that he can perform at an elite level, history suggests otherwise. But with three years and $61 million in guaranteed money remaining on the 10-year, $275 million contract he signed with the Yankees in 2007, retirement is the furthest thing from A-Rod’s mind.
What kind of reception A-Rod will receive when he reports to Tampa remains to be seen. He has lied to anyone who would listen and betrayed everyone who has ever believed in him, not exactly the embodiment of an ideal teammate. The Yankees don’t want him or his distractions and MLB wishes he would just disappear. The only thing Yankees’ fans want is a winner but if the team is saddled with A-Rod’s contract and his roster spot, the club will be hamstrung in its efforts to bring a 28th championship to the Bronx. That competitive disadvantage isn’t likely to garner them any sympathy from the other 29 teams in baseball.
But the media will be tripping over themselves to cover the Rodriguez soap opera-cum-reality show that would make the Kardashians envious. A-Rod has morphed into a cartoon character in life and a caricature of himself on the diamond. At this point in time A-Rod is left to limp through the remaining years of his contract while providing fodder for the New York tabloids and late night talk shows.
The best resolution for the Yankees is that A-Rod reports to spring training and despite his best efforts, is declared physically unable to play. His contract would be paid in full and the team would be reimbursed by their insurance company. The Yankees’ only recourse at this point is to make life as difficult as they can for A-Rod, working him as hard as they can, forcing him to join the rookies on the longest bus rides and hoping he breaks down.
Rodriguez’ cousin, Yuri Sucart, who has served A-Rod as confidant and gofer throughout his MLB career, was among those indicted as a result of the Biogenesis investigation. Sucart was a mule for Biogenesis providing A-Rod and others with their drugs. A-Rod claims to have paid his cousin $900,000 for his silence. Sucart’s trial is scheduled to begin on February 9 and prosecutors have listed A-Rod as a witness in the case. As a former prosecutor, Rodriguez isn’t exactly the kind of witness that would instill confidence in me when presenting my case to a jury.
For Rodriguez, the truth has always been whatever serves his interest at the moment. Like the Pilgrim in Kristofferson’s song, what A-Rod says is undoubtedly partly truth and partly fiction. But good luck to anyone who tries to discern the difference between the two.
(Jordan Kobritz is a former attorney, CPA, and Minor League Baseball team owner. He is a Professor in the Sport Management Department at SUNY Cortland and maintains the blog: http://sportsbeyondthelines.com Jordan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)