Let’s assume that it’s a given that Alex Rodriguez purchased and used illegal performance enhancement drugs from sleazy Anthony Bosch and his disgraced Miami-based company, Biogenesis.
The way the New York tabloid media, particularly Daily News national baseball writer Bill “Hang ’Em High” Madden, covered the story, not only was A-Rod guilty but he should be treated like an al-Qaeda operative or North Korean spy.
The public, however, may be getting wary of A-Rod overkill. A caller to Richard Neer’s Sunday morning WFAN show complained about how too many in the press were seemingly equating A-Rod with the likes of Jeffrey Dahmer and Charles Manson.
I would like to write a few words on Alex’s behalf. He had already signed his megabucks contract with the Yankees that would pay him handsomely until he was 42 and all he had to do was just show up. He could have done what Oliver Perez and Jason Bay did during their tenure as Mets and collect a hefty paycheck while performing abysmally. Sure, he would have gotten booed (something quite familiar to him already), but he would have gotten a fraction of the grief he’s getting now because he wanted to ensure, in his mind anyway, that he would be able to live up to the gargantuan compensation he’d be receiving from the Yankees.
You have to credit Alex for appealing the 211-game suspension that baseball commissioner Bud Selig levied on him last week. Thanks to the appeal process, he will be able to finish the 2013 season. In addition, an arbiter may reduce his suspension so that he can play a good chunk of next season. Even if the original punishment is upheld, A-Rod can still take satisfaction in that he made a fool of sportswriters who wrote that he would never play another game in a Yankees uniform.
Even his harshest critics have to admire Alex’s intelligence and his ability to never appear frustrated. He was very articulate in his return press conference in Chicago and appeared to welcome the most strident questions from his critics in the media. When asked Saturday how he felt to hear the litany of boos cascading from the stands of Yankee Stadium during his strikeout-plagued return to the Bronx the night before, he smiled and basically gave an enthusiastic “I love New York!” response that would have made both state and city tourism officials blush.
Here’s a reminder to grumpy Yankee fans who are miffed at A-Rod’s return. He is the best third baseman that manager Joe Girardi has penciled into his lineup all year long.
The Mets will be completing their lengthy West Coast road trip with a four-game series against the San Diego Padres. The Padres, as per custom, are badly struggling with their usual roster, which is composed of anything but household names.
But the Padres always seem to find a way to beat the Mets at Petco Park. Amazin’s Manager Terry Collins does not have a contract for 2014, and you have to assume that general manager Sandy Alderson sees this road trip, and this series in particular, as a litmus test.
One plus for Collins is that David Wright’s replacement, Wilmer Flores, has been tearing the cover off the baseball. He is nowhere near the Gold Glove fielder that Wright is, and in fact he’s a downright defensive liability at third base, but his bat should atone for a multitude of defensive sins until the Mets’ perennial All-Star returns in September.
The much-ballyhooed competitor to ESPN, Fox Sports 1, makes its debut this Saturday. Monday will be its big day, however, as Regis Philbin begins hosting his live 5 p.m. show, “Crowd Goes Wild,” while Brooklyn’s Danny Jacobs will be fighting in a middleweight championship bout at Times Square’s Best Buy Theater, which will be televised by the new network at 9 p.m.