Monday, January 13, 2014

Bye-bye, So Long, Farewell

Steriods?  Who, me?
At long last, baseball fans got what they wanted: Alex Rodriguez is no more.  After an arbitrator ruled that A-Rod's original 211-game suspension was being "shortened" to 162 games, it all but spelled the end of Rodriguez's career in Major League Baseball.  Having missed most of the 2013 season with a hip injury, by the time the 2014 season has ended, A-Rod will have played all of 44 games in 2 years.  At age 39, with two surgically-repaired hips, it hardly bodes well for a comeback in 2015.

However, I think there is a chance, albeit a small one, that A-Rod can play in the majors again.  The scenario itself is actually plausible -- the hiccup is that it requires Rodriguez to actually accept baseball's punishment and move on.  (So far, that doesn't seem likely.)

But let's assume that A-Rod exhausts all his legal avenues prior to Spring Training and finally faces the reality that he will not be playing baseball for the Yankees or anyone else in the major leagues in 2014.  What's a shamed superstar to do?  Hop on a trans-pacific flight and sign up to play in the Japanese league.  

That lets Rodriguez show us if there's anything left in the tank.  Prove to us that a clean A-Rod is still a viable player.  Granted, the competition in Japan isn't quite major-league caliber, but it will be easy to see if he's still a man among boys, or simply an aging, over-matched veteran seeking one more season in the sun.  If he plays well, a return to MLB wouldn't be far-fetched.

Well, sure, A-Rod still has a contract with the Yankees.  But don't you think it's worth $30 or $40 million to the Yankees to buy out his existing deal and make him go away?  With that cash in hand, it makes it easier for A-Rod to accept a lesser offer from some other MLB team.  And it's not like the other convicted drug offenders haven't been welcomed back in the fold following their suspensions.  Maybe the Marlins, in desperate need of a drawing card, bring down South Florida's own for a homecoming?  Maybe it's the A's, looking for a potential bargain and a short-term solution for some offense? 

While we're all glad to see Alex Rodriguez go, part of that glee has to do with the whole sideshow that always accompanies him.  Perhaps a year away in a foreign land, with nothing to focus on except baseball, will change him.  Perhaps not.  But it's a scenario that I'd like to see play out by the time 2015 rolls around.

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