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A-Rod: A Shallow Apology

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Watching Alex Rodriguez' confessional on television Tuesday, I was wondering how long it would take for him to offer significant portions of his bloated salary to benefit some of our nation's schools and neighborhoods. How long before he committed to speaking engagements in Boys Clubs, YMCAs and churches on the evils of drugs? You had to wonder why he never offered to share some of his loot and his time away from the game for these purposes. It would have been magnanimous of Rodriguez to have pledged the money for 100 bleacher seats in the new Yankee Stadium for the coming season. Set them aside for poor kids, perhaps even Little Leaguers in the east Bronx, then spend 15 minutes of each pre-game warmup in a Q&A with A-Rod, about the evil of drugs. But it was just not high on his agenda.

It shows you what a sap I was. But then, I asked myself, why didn't some of those perceptive sportswriters who attended the stage-managed press conference in Florida by the New York Yankees organization ever think to have asked these same questions? Instead they just let A-Rod off, Scot-free. Along with that unnamed cousin of his in the Dominican Republic who he claims introduced and injected him with illegal drugs a dozen years ago.

Don't get me wrong. I am a lifelong baseball fan and a Yankee one to boot. But I'm angry as hell about the betrayal of major league baseball's players, club owners, agents, and the high and mighty players' union who have self-righteously stood up for the integrity of the game while turning their cheeks the other way for years and allowed drug usage by inference to soil the reputations of most players. And not only the "clean players" but the national pastime itself. If individuals choose to cover up, then the institution owes us, the fans who support the game with our dollars week in and week out, the courage to stand up to the bums who are spoiling the reputation of the game we raised our kids to worship.

Bud Selig, the commissioner, clearly is not the man for the job or he would have suspended Rodriguez for an unspecified period of time. But again and again, he's shown himself to be a wimp when it has come time to make the tough calls. What baseball needs is a Bart Giamatti or a Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis, armed with the powers to govern the sport; with an iron fist if need be. Giamatti, the former Yale professor who presided as commissioner in the 1980s was a tough overseer before his untimely death. He would have imposed some tough love on A-Rod. Under Landis, the first commissioner chosen to govern baseball after the notorious Black Sox Scandal of the 1920s, Rodriguez would have been gone. Back then, the judge used the power of expulsion to cleanse the sport of its potential crooks. And make no mistake of it, the drug users are nothing less than crooks, having stolen our youngsters' hearts by soiling the reputation of the game and confusing the kids who have grown up loving baseball.

Clearly, what Rodriguez has shown, merely by saying he was sorry for what he had done, is that the game has run out of excuses, alibis and cover-ups. The people who control baseball ought to stop being front men for the weak-minded drug users. It should be two strikes now and maybe then, the third one will not be quite as painful.