Lutz Blog

Bob Lutz: Alex Rodriguez has $61 million reasons not to go away

New York Yankees infielder Alex Rodriguez talks with the media following a spring training workout in Tampa on Tuesday.
New York Yankees infielder Alex Rodriguez talks with the media following a spring training workout in Tampa on Tuesday. AP

Alex Rodriguez spoke to the media in Tampa for the second day in a row Tuesday. And, of course, he said nothing.

Words come out of A-Rod’s mouth. The phrase “yada, yada, yada” was meant for him in his current situation – a close-to-40, tarnished former slugger who is hanging on because he can make $61 million over the next three seasons if he hangs on.

That’s pretty strong incentive to hang on, wouldn’t you say?

A-Rod, as he is affectionately known (minus the affection), showed up unannounced at Yankees camp Monday. He was back Tuesday. He’s trying to make a team that has no use or position for him and would likely jump for joy if he failed another MLB drug test, which would earn him a ban from baseball.

Rodriguez has had two recent hip surgeries, missed the 2014 season because of suspension and hasn’t had a big offensive year for the Yankees since 2010. He’s a physical mess who is probably a good bet not to even make it to Opening Day because of assorted ailments and injuries. But he’s going to try and we’re going to be subjected to his attempt to try for the next several weeks.

People are interested in A-Rod because he’s such a beautiful disaster. He’s spent a lot of time apologizing over the past week or so, but for nothing specific. I suppose we can assume what he’s apologizing for, but wouldn’t it be in his best interest to come out and say that he abused steroids for years and that his baseball legacy is built on needles and syringes?

I think there is such disdain for players like Rodriguez, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens because their greatness did not need artificial enhancement. Those of us who love sports appreciate the rarity of greatness. There are only a handful of truly great athletes and those are the players we want desperately to believe in and trust.

It’s beyond my comprehension as to why these players would need to cheat. They were already great – was the need to become greater that profound?

It’s hard to know what us mortals would do in a similar situation. Blessed with such overwhelming natural ability, perhaps we would have chosen to risk our legacies for a few more home runs, a few more strikeouts, a few more years of dominance.

It’s not even the steroids use that bothers me because it’s obvious so many players were resorting to that short court during an era of baseball. It’s the lying about it and the refusal to own up to what everybody knows. I don’t know what gets into the brains of some of these guys, but the real damage they inflict on their legacies are the lies about the cheating.

Rodriguez has said he made a “mistake” and that he has paid a price both professionally and personally.

It’s been interesting to listen to interviews done recently with those who know Rodriguez well. They talk about a man who needs public acceptance and adoration and is willing to do whatever it takes to get that.

But Rodriguez has lost most of the public. He’s not a baseball superstar anymore, he’s a broken down old ballplayer who can’t seem to tell the difference between real and make-believe. He’s someone we used to appreciate – celebrate, even – until he showed us the error of our ways.

He was such an exciting young player until quickly becoming a tired, old player, barely worthy of acknowlegement. The media isn’t so much interviewing Rodriguez in Tampa as it is mocking him with questions about why he did what he did and why he’s still wearing a baseball uniform.

When Rodriguez was asked about how he was being received inside the Yankees’ clubhouse, he talked about the bond created when a team wins a championship and he cited 2009. Guess how many players on the 2015 Yankees were in pinstripes in 2009? Three: Mark Teixeira, Brett Gardner and C.C. Sabathia.

When Rodriguez says things like that, it makes us question his sensibility and his connection to reality.

A-Rod has made close to a half-billion dollars playing baseball. He ranks fifth all-time in home runs, sixth in RBIs and 11th in runs scored. He was great before he thought he needed to do whatever it took to become greater.

Now he’s just hanging on for the cash.