by Dennis Albini
Clash Daily Guest Contributor
I’m writing this watching the Detroit Tigers – NY Yankees ballgame on Superstation TBS. Thirty-eight year old Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod) hit his first home run of the season in the second inning since returning last week from major hip surgery … the second such surgery of his career. This is home run # 648 of his career, and now he’s only 12 homers away from tying the great “Say, hey” kid, Willie Mays, for fourth place on the all-time home run list at 660 (this list is arguably the most prestigious record in all of baseball).
NB: A-Rod’s current Yankee contract will pay a bonus of $6,000,000 if, and when, he reaches that 660 milestone (with additional bonuses for reaching Ruth, Aaron, Bonds and the 800 home run mark).
Here’s the rub: A-Rod was suspended this past Monday for 211 games by Major League Baseball (MLB) for violation of MLB’s substance abuse policy plus other infractions detrimental to the integrity of the game. A-Rod has filed an appeal of this suspension, but is allowed to play until final arbitration on this matter (which could take until the season is over).
I have ambivalent feelings regarding this matter: Is A-Rod a G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time) or a “goat” in the vernacular sense to receive/deserve the brunt of the punishment for his sins?
Note: A-Rod opted out of his 10 year, $252,000,000 contract with the Yankees in October, 2007 to test the free agent market for an even bigger deal, but there were no takers…EXCEPT the NY Yankees, who proceeded to re-sign Alex with a new 10 year contract with guaranteed money totaling $275 million (plus the aforementioned bonus clauses that could generate an additional $30,000,000 in the deal)!
MLB has instituted a pogrom against the evils of PEDs (performance enhancing drugs) since 2006, to “clean-up the game”. While this is all well and good, it must be mentioned that MLB “turned a blind eye” toward steroid use during the 80s and 90s, especially during the thrilling home run race in 1998 between Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa to break Roger Maris’ single season record of 61.
It’s important to remember that since the 1994 strike season resulting in no playoffs nor World Series, MLB attendance was in a significant decline. The “Home Run Race” between McGuire and Sosa “bought back” baseball to record levels (both at the gate and on TV) going to the last game of the season, with McGuire setting a new single season record of 70.