LOS ANGELES — I’m really concerned about Alex Rodriguez.
I’m not worried that he’ll never play another game — he probably doesn’t have many of those left in his 38-year old body anyway. And I’m not worried about him being elected to the Hall of Fame, because as long as suspicion — and not fact — can keep you out, it’s not a real HOF anyway. No, I’m actually worried that A-Rod is cracking up. And I don’t mean laughing.
This is what he said to the Washington Post Tuesday as he was pleading his case that he’s not the biggest sports cheat since Pheidippides inadvertently created the marathon: “I’m a human being. I’ve had two hip surgeries. I’ve had two knee surgeries. I’m fighting for my life.”
If this was radio, I’d be playing the clip over and over again, urging Rodriguez to quickly get in to see a psychologist, before he ends up on a street corner, swilling Thunderbird wine and begging for, well, anything. Because if he really feels that way, he’s so far out of touch with reality that it’s going to take a long time to reel him back in.
This proclamation of fighting for his life comes from a man who will earn nearly a half-billion dollars for playing baseball for a couple of decades. Yes, that’s B as in billion. That doesn’t even count the money he’s made from endorsements.
And poor A-Rod has had some surgeries to repair his body so he can continue to collect his millions and millions of dollars. (I guess “poor” is the wrong description, so let’s just refer to him as “unlucky” A-Rod). That should really fill us with empathy for him if he actually did cheat the system for much of his magnificent career.
I’ve always liked Alex. My dealings with him have usually been pleasant, especially after his former agent Scott Boras formally introduced us at a Lakers game. Whenever I’d see him after that, he would likely start the conversation by asking about Kobe Bryant or the Lakers. And whenever he turned me down for an interview — which wasn’t often — he was extremely polite about it.
I also have no problem in backing A-Rod on this key point — he’s never failed a drug test, so where’s the proof he broke baseball’s rules?
Just as in the case of most of the players who were suspended on Monday — and players like Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell who were kept out of the Hall of Fame because of suspicions about their PED use- — his sample came up clean every time that mattered, unless MLB is hiding evidence from us. And that would make no sense since they’re also waging a PR campaign as well as making an effort to convince the fans that the game needs to be furthered laundered after strict testing was initiated in 2005.
However, no matter what personal viewpoints one may have, I find it very difficult to ignore ignorance. Actually, the arrogance of ignorance, which was put on full display in A-Rod’s comments to the Post.
“It’s not hard for me to believe he’d feel that way,” said a former close advisor who asked to remain nameless. “His ego is so huge that nothing he does can surprise me.”
Nonetheless, citing inhumanity and going through some surgeries surprised the heck out of me. Many have been through a lot more and get paid a LOT less. And probably don’t feel they’re being treated like sub-humans.
That’s a stinging slap to the face of every baseball fan that buys tickets or merchandise, helping make it possible for Rodriguez to live the kind of life he does. Unfortunately for him, that kind of life has devolved into one big ball of delusion, and he seems to be the only person who can’t see that the once-great Alex Rodriguez has turned into nothing more than a joke.
By the way, A-Rod, if you want to talk about humanity, let’s go back to the aforementioned Pheidippides, the Athenian messenger who ran 150 miles in two days to get news of the war with Persia and ask for help from other soldiers. On the final day and feeling ill, he ran 25 non-stop miles back to Athens to announce victory over the Persians.