Just when I was ruminating about how Alex Rodriguez was enjoying his summer vacation, along comes a weird, gossipy item about how he had joined LinkedIn. As if Alex was going to peruse the Internet classifieds looking for his next job as a dish washer or dog catcher.
Most assuredly there are New York Yankees fans – and baseball fans in general – who are mad enough at the one-time wunderkind to push him in the direction of those new career choices, but it seems difficult to believe that if Rodriguez never takes another swing at the plate after his year-long suspension from Major League Baseball expires, that he will look into such avenues. Surely the guy does not need the money.
It has been a very quiet 2014 baseball season for Rodriguez, the sure-fire Hall of Famer who self-destructed sufficiently that his chances of being elected during his lifetime are practically nil. And he is not an old man. Put it this way, Pete Rose has been waiting a quarter of a century for redemption, and Alex may have to wait at least as long.
That is since Rodriguez decided to cease fighting city hall and accepted baseball’s ruling that he had cheated by taking performance enhancing drugs and therefore could not wear a Yankee uniform this season.
Although Rodriguez’s body seemed to be already falling apart piece by piece like an aging apartment building, he has always insisted that he is not ready to retire. He still harbors dreams, or illusions, of leaving baseball on his own terms. That will take some doing.
Will he return?
At the moment Rodriguez is persona non grata in big-league ballparks. Yet such individuals as Ryan Braun, Bartolo Colon, and Melky Cabrera in recent years have been banned from the game for taking illegal performance enhancing drugs and returned to the sport to play near All-Star levels.
Can Rodriguez do that? One difference is that he had already been through enough recent injuries to require his own MASH unit and the other is that when the 2015 season begins A-Rod will be going on 40 years old. The last time Rodriguez played in at least 140 games was 2007. He has experienced a sharp decline in his batting averages, dropping his lifetime mark to .299.
Before he turned himself into an object of derision by the way he behaved on the big New York stage in terms of starlet dating, wife-breakup, denying taking drugs, and fighting his inevitable suspension, Rodriguez was admired as one of the best ball players who ever lived. Worse than anything else, it seemed, (prior to the drug stuff), Rodriguez fans had lost faith in him for not producing in the playoffs. In Yankeeland that is a sin that trumps most anything else.
In a 20-year career with the Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers and Yankees, Rodriguez does own some stupendous lifetime stats. He has hit 654 home runs. He has 1,969 runs batted in. He has scored 1,919 runs. He has 2,939 hits. He ranks very high on several all-time baseball lists. Surely he would like to reach selected milestones. Recently, Hal Steinbrenner, the late George Steinbrenner’s son who runs things for the Yanks these days, said he expects Rodriguez to be back with the team in 2015.
Maybe. And maybe Rodriguez can still play a little bit, enough to total 3,000 hits, 700 home runs, 2,000 runs, and 2,000 RBIs. Certainly Rodriguez will face an avalanche of boos wherever he plays and one must wonder just how happy for him fans will be if and when he records those milestone numbers.