As you might assume, I don’t schedule the Pinch Hitter posts based on when Alex Rodriguez might be accused of further steroid use. If I had the option I might have rearranged some things to begin this day with a Pinch Hitter post that perfectly fit yesterday’s bombshell, but there really wasn’t a perfect match in the hopper.
And really, wasn’t Gil’s post connected to the latest A-Rod drama in its own way?
Mariano Rivera is the most dominant pitcher of his generation, and he’s the greatest reliever in the history of baseball. Unless, of course, you prefer the career of a guy like Goose Gossage, who pitched more innings and often entered difficult situations much earlier in the game. Rivera vs. Gossage is a debate about baseball. It’s all about workload and dominance; wondering how Rivera would have done in Gossage’s shoes and vice versa. It’s about real, authentic greatness.
At no point is Rodriguez going to be a part of a conversation like that.
Let me be clear, I do not feel sorry for Rodriguez. I’ll certainly feel bad for him if this Miami New Times report proves to be untrue, but the fact is, Rodriguez created this state of distrust. It’s far easier to believe he’s still tainted than to believe he’s turned innocent. It might not be fair, but it’s his reality. And it’s a shame that it’s our reality, too.
You know what we should be doing this winter? We should be rooting for Rodriguez. He should be a rallying point; one of the game’s great players trying to come back from yet another injury. There should be pity, and there should be hope. There should not be animosity, and there should not be anger. There should not be betrayal.
Fact is, baseball loves a hero. The game has its share of villains, but it’s always cheered the good guys. If anything, baseball might have created too many idols.
Rodriguez will never be among them. I’m sure the baseball culture of the past two decades or so helped create this monster — the pressure and temptation to use performance enhancing drugs must have been immense — but Rodriguez caved. He was not the hero. He’s admitted to having given in for three years when he was younger, and now the easiest thing to do is believe that he did it again. The Yankees reportedly want to void his contract, and who can blame them? All of baseball would rather walk away from Rodriguez than rush to his defense.
Where does Alex Rodriguez rank among the greatest players of all time? The better and far sadder question is, does anyone really care?
Associated Press photo