This past week New York Yankees third basemen Alex Rodriguez decided to accept his fate for the 2014 season when he dropped his lawsuit against Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association and accepted his 162 game suspension; ending any chance of playing baseball this coming year.
There are a lot of critics out there who think Rodriguez will never see the field again and the Yankees should simply find a way to either void his contract or buy out the remaining three years at $61 left on his deal after 2014, but with guaranteed contracts as big as the one Rodriguez signed in 2007 for 10 years and $275 million, voiding out the deal is not that simple and in all reality, likely will not happen. The Yankees once tried this with Jason Giambi and failed to void his contract almost nine years ago, and he ended up going on to finish out his contract with the team in 2008, just four years after he admitted he took steroids and performance enhancing drugs.
Now it is A-Rod who is the one being banned, maybe a very unfair ban, but baseball and a federal arbitrator paid by Bud Selig felt that 162 games was just cause to keep Rodriguez on the sidelines even without a failed drug test under the Joint Drug Agreement and took the word of a drug dealer in Anthony Bosch to get him to sit for a season. Rodriguez is now accepting of his fate, but not being in baseball won't be the final chapter in a very chaotic and controversial career.
The sport has allowed players like Brett Myers to continue even though he was arrested for domestic assault of his wife, Miguel Cabrera or Derek Lowe, both of which were arrested for DUI's, or even Manny Ramirez, although he didn't break the law or get arrested, but is someone who failed a drug test twice in the league, and yet, still got second, third, fourth and fifth chances to play with teams like the Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, Oakland A's and most recently, the Texas Rangers. Ramirez failed two drug tests and yet, he was still allowed back for more, while Rodriguez hasn't even failed one.
When the 2014 season concludes, the Yankees could likely be without Derek Jeter, who will be 40 years old and could be retiring at seasons end, or Alfonso Soriano, whose contract runs out and his plans past the season are unknown, which means the team will need a person for the designated hitter spot; a spot that A-Rod fits in perfectly. The team can, instead of paying him $61 million to sit at home, can pay him to be on the field and produce; something that everyone saw in his limited time in 2013, he's very much capable of doing.
Another factor that also has to be taken into consideration is A-Rod's value; while he's looked upon as a "disgraced player" and one with very little credibility left, he's still a power hitter who can drive the ball out of the park. Sure, he's not the MVP-caliber player he once was, but at 38, going on 39 next year when he can return to actual baseball, he should still have enough pop left in his bat to hit 15-20 home runs in a season. If the Yankees make him a full-time DH and keep him out of the infield, it should allow Rodriguez to stay healthy and be a somewhat effective player in the lineup.
Now, there of course is image and while A-Rod is the lightning rod of controversy, Rodriguez is still one of the most must-see players in the game, even for those who hate him. Those who say that they can't stand him still want to see him, even if it's to fall flat on his face and in reality, still brings in a crowd. If you don't believe it, look at all of the opposing cities the Yankees traveled to with Rodriguez on the team; the stadiums were packed with people wanting to see Rodriguez. Sure, they booed him until their vocal cords could no longer echo out the boo birds, but they still paid to get in and watch A-Rod take his at-bats. And in reversal, people still came to Yankee Stadium to watch him play, and guess what, they actually cheered him when he played. Imagine that; New Yorkers actually cheered Rodriguez when he played and got big hits and hit home runs off quality pitching; like the one he got off Justin Verlander this past summer.
What A-Rod might need to do in order to save the very little face left that he has as far as a public image goes; is to apologize. He's already admitted defeat with dropping the lawsuit, so he's no longer on the "I need to challenge the world and the sport" kick, and knows he's in a bind as far as his future goes. An apology can go a far way with today's society.
Ryan Braun is doing the same thing with the fan base in Milwaukee and trying to rebuild his destroyed image with the Brewers after serving a 65 game suspension at the end of the 2013 season. although who knows if he ever will rebuild that bond he had with the fan base there. Rodriguez can simply man up, face the public, and say he's sorry for what he's done and apologize to everyone. It's the first step of a long process of any kind of forgiveness, but if he wants to face the public again and play baseball for the Yankees, this may be the road he needs to take.
The year off will allow Rodriguez to think about what has happened, but it will also get him out of the spotlight and off everyone's bad list for a while and when he returns, maybe with a different outlook on life, some people will be more accepting of him whereas they likely aren't right now.
But this suspension should not and likely will not be the end of the most polarizing athlete in the game, and as long as he's healthy and can still swing a bat, Rodriguez should see the field again in 2015 with the Yankees.
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