Could there be a worse scenario as a baseball fan? Your favorite team has under contract a cheater and a liar to a long-term, guaranteed contract.
In the Yankees case, their problem is internal, because like it or not, the truth is that they are better with Alex Rodriguez on the field. If this were football, where contracts are virtually worthless when it comes to player security, A-Rod would have been on the first bus out of New York, or even chucked at the airport, Lane Kiffin style. With the money they cleared off the books for this season with Rodriguez’s suspension, they managed to sign unproven Japanese sensation, Masahiro Tanaka.
At the age of nine, I put up a poster in my room of a shortstop diving up the middle for a ball; with his arms extending just enough that, it appeared the ball would nestle snugly into his glove. He was the most exciting player in baseball, and to an ignorant fans eye, he was doing it all on God-given ability and his incredible work ethic that propelled him to heights not attained by those before him. He was faster, stronger and more charismatic than any player in the game; not to mention, he hit titanic home runs and blew gigantic pink bubbles with his chewing gum. The guy on the poster was Alex Rodriguez, and he will go down as one of the most captivating superstars in the history of baseball.
A-Rod has managed to alienate himself from both the media and the public in the world’s most famous city. Whereas New York can certainly break you, the marriage between the New York Yankees and the most talented player in the last 50 years should have been a match made in heaven. Almost unbelievably, he has managed to put off the admission that would eventually relinquish a lot of the sharp disdain and animosity that hangs in the air. Although no one likes a liar, if you hit the ball far enough and with enough frequency, it can be forgiven. If you choose to lie twice, to the New York media nonetheless, you will almost certainly be eaten alive.
The question that ties all of this back to the Reds is this: how would you feel if it were the Reds that were attached to the media bombshell himself, Alex Rodriguez? Many Yankee fans were in favor of playing A-Rod every day at the end of last season, as third base had become a black hole of ineptitude. The team tried to put a Band-Aid on an open wound by playing mediocre skilled infielders David Adams and Brent Lillibridge. Forget the fact that he could be the biggest villain to play baseball since Ty Cobb, the Yankees needed the production!
Personally, it would be quite difficult to root for him. When Barry Bonds was wrapping up his career, he hit the free agent market. Sure, he has never been found guilty of any wrongdoing, but the man’s head and feet grew in his late thirties. Unless Bonds grew up in some sort of malfunctioning power plant, those type of deformities are not supposed to occur. Not to mention, his “prime” suddenly kicked in at age 35. No formal offers were made, regardless of his extremely high level of production, even into his mid-40s. The baggage and traveling circus was simply too much for any organization to overcome. Of course, no one would realistically abandon their team should a villainous cheater be inserted behind enemy lines, but if said player appeared with the bases loaded, two outs, bottom of the ninth, I would be conflicted to root for an “A-Bomb, from A-Rod!,” as Yankee broadcaster John Sterling has routinely used to describe Rodriguez’s blasts.
Thankfully, the Reds have managed to avoid such an issue. Don’t think that it is a coincidence that when making the decision between Devin Mesoraco and Yasmani Grandal, the Reds shipped away the youngster that was busted as part of the league’s new drug policy shortly thereafter. No organization is exempt from these repercussions, but the Reds have managed to remain unharmed at the Major League level.
Tomorrow morning could be the day that upon arising, we find out a suspension has been levied on any member of the roster and all this discussion is null and void; but the Reds brass have seemingly put together a roster of not only superb talent, but men of honesty and integrity, and that cannot be overlooked in a day and age where those moral standards have been so severely compromised.