This Friday, Alex Rodriguez will play his last game as a Yankee, and finally — mercifully — A-Rod’s charmed but sordid, impressive yet disgraced chapter in the encyclopedic Book of Yankee will come to an end. At least as a player. His departure from baseball is a good thing. One less cheat; a malignancy that not even the Yankees — for decades, baseball’s answer to the soap opera — could contain. And that’s sayin’ somethin’.
When the announcement was made, I’m sure the guys at the New York Post scattered like cockroaches to their various watering holes, seeking to drown their anguish over the loss of one of the most prolific sources of tabloid dirt in the history of the five boroughs. The good news for Yankees fans — and the Post, for that matter — is that you can take A-Rod outta New York, but you can’t take New York out of it’s penchant for signin’ the most ginormously colossal ego blimps to ever don a mitt. If outsized, overpriced, self-destructive ballplayers were moths, Steinbrenner’s funny farm would be a billion dollar light bulb. It’s only a matter of time before B-Rod or C-Rod slips on the stripes and starts swinin’ his dick around 5th Avenue.
I imagine it’s pretty much always been that way in the Bronx. It’s just that in my day — before Facebook, before YouTube, before Instagram and texting and tweeting, before megapixels and high-def and Pokemon Goin’ like an idiot all over everywhere — you didn’t read about who Billy Martin clocked after last night’s game. And there was no way of knowing which players were treatin’ their wives like Nerf balls, or which material girl they were shackin’ up with. Why? Cuz without that 3 x 5 inch incrimination device in everyone’s pocket like we got today, ballplayers could do just about anything they wanted, to whomever they wanted, whenever they wanted, and no one was the wiser. Hey, I’m not makin’ excuses for A-Rod, mind you — to me he’s just Barry Bonds in a New York state of mind. But they both woulda come out a little less shit-stained if they’d played in the 60s.
When I was a kid, and then later, in my 30s and 40s when George “Fort Knox” Steinbrenner financed the purchase of a fair number of championships, the Yanks stood apart from the rest of baseball. No franchise was more storied or proud or feared than the Bronx Bombers, flashin’ their friggin’ pinstripes like Wall Street bankers, and playin’ in the house that Ruth built among the swirling memories of Gehrig, Mantle, Berra and Ford. They were movie stars that could hit.
A-Rod is a modern day version of one of those guys — someone who commanded an x-rated pay check … just to swat a friggin’ baseball around the yard. Hey, if someone wanted to pay me like that, would I complain? HELL no. I’d take every penny of it.
But I wouldn’t cheat.
And this, my gummy-chewin’ friends, is where me and a buttload of baseball writers, players, coaches, announcers, front office guys — and especially fans — part company on the question of whether A-Rod is a jaggoff or not. Yes, is the correct answer. He is.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph Maddon! How in the friggin’ hell can anyone defend a guy who cheats at baseball? That’s like makin’ sixth grade excuses when your best friend gets caught tryin’ to peek up Sister O’Shaughnessy’s habit. Shameful, pal. Shameful. Almost as much as the act itself. Why? Cuz unlike any other sport, Baseball is a game that’s built on its numbers. If you don’t respect ’em, the whole 150 year tower of baseball history could come crashing down on itself — sort of a baseball 9/11, carried out by a bunch of radical baseballic juicers like Bonds, Sosa, Canseco and McGwire. And, of course, A-Rod. The numbers matter, pallie. They should matter to you, too. They are the measuring stick that transcends baseball’s decades, binding era to era, and standing player against player in a way that, over time, defines greatness or reveals mediocrity.
Or in this case, a cheat.
Look, when a guy in his mid-30s is smackin’ more yard shots than he did 10 years earlier — and I’m talkin’ big numbers here — you don’t have to be Charlie Friggin Chan to know what’s goin’ on. It ain’t happening on a level playing field, my friend, I can tell you that. Of course, if some needle-nosed accountant gets caught cookin’ the books for a NASDAQ tech company … BOOM … the guy is decked out in orange coveralls. Not in baseball. A-Rod and his ilk have been barbecuing baseball’s record books for years, and I don’t see any of ’em gettin’ the Shoeless Joe treatment, let alone havin’ to worry about pickin’ up the soap in the Big House. Why is that? Why are baseball writers willing to look the other way? Why are teammates of these hosers apologizin’ for ’em? Why are there so many so-called baseball fans willing to Perry Mason for A-Rod and the other butt-stickers who’ve needled up? I gotta assume it’s cuz most of the guys who set the REAL records aren’t around any more. And those that are were long outta the game by the time the “I just wanna see home runs, and I don’t care how they’re manufactured” crowd was even born.
SIDEBAR: These fans are the same ones that gotta have music blarin’, or human hot dog races around the base paths, or t-shirt cannons blastin’ at the ballpark whenever theres a break in the action. If that’s you, you’re not a real baseball fan. You’re not even a reasonable facsimile, cuz you’d rather be entertained by stupid crap that has nothin’ to do with the game than absorb the million subtle things that make one up. Stay home, spice rack.
Personally — in case you haven’t been payin’ attention — I have as many as zero ounces of tolerance for A-Rod’s cheatin’ heart. Not just because of the deed itself, but because he friggin’ Hillary Clinton’d the crap out of it. There aren’t a lot of liars in baseball. Historically. But, again, that’s because of the numbers. Which is why they’re so friggin’ important … sacred … holy, even. Numbers don’t lie — at least until the asterisk era they didn’t. I mean, you can’t exactly make up stuff on your baseball resumé and fool anybody: “Uh, yeah … name’s Mario Mendoza. That’s with a Z. I’ve hit above .350 all but by rookie year. Just .337 that season. Musta had a touch of the PTSD or somethin’ from my off-seasons in Afghanistan.” See what I mean? Until baseball players started shootin’, drinkin’, chewin’, rubbin’ or otherwise enhancin’ their performance with secret sauce, the numbers laid bare their relative skills compared to everyone else in the game. Roids turned guys like A-Rod into better players than they really were. And one of the major side effects for most, including Rodriguez, was the development of a forked tongue. Not an endearing human quality (although I can see how Madonna mighta liked it).
The reason this sandpapers my ass, almost as much as the cheating itself, is that lying about it insults my intelligence, which may not be in Stephen Hawking’s zip code, but it ain’t in Donald Trump’s, either. I didn’t really need Scott Pelley to 60 Minute the subject in order to know that A-Rod was a doper. It was as plain as Dolly Parton’s gazongas. The Yankees 3rd baseman sent more things into a geosynchronous orbit around Earth than NASA, and did it at a time when his skills would have long since diminished due to age. He was doping, alright, and anyone with an IQ higher than a White Sox fan would have known it. The fact that he lied about it was chicken shit at best. You did it. You got caught. Man up, puss cake. Nope. Instead, he lawyered up. Just like Jimmy Hoffa. And he comes clean ONLY when he’s granted immunity from prosecution. And why the hell they did that, you, me and the dugout wall will never know. His alleged crimes include bribery, tampering with witnesses and obstruction of justice — all stuff he did to keep the original cheating from creepin’ out from under the rug. Model citizen.
It’s not like A-Rod was the first cheatin’ jaggoff in baseball, but his insistence on lying and throwin’ his weight around the courtroom while indefensibly trampling on all the guys who played the game clean (no, that’s not you, Barry) is the height of assholiness. You combine that with his off-field shenanegans and you got yourself a model for the official bronze statue in the lobby of the National Enquirer.
I say so-friggin-long, A-Rod. Don’t let the clubhouse door hit you in your frequently-needled ass on the way out.