Lest you think the Age of Miracles is past, A-Rod has become a sympathetic figure. This particular miracle comes at the hands of the New York Yankees and its star hit-man/strategist Randy Levine. The vicious back-and-forth between the two set the stage for A-Rod's on-field heroics, a mighty home run against the Red Sox after being intentionally hit by a pitch by that noted moralist, Ryan Dempster. Mr. Dempster was piqued, apparently, that A-Rod was still playing after baseball suspended him for a litany of misdeeds.
Before we go forward, some history and disclosure: I have a record of interaction with the Yankees that could be a book. It started when, as a New York State Assemblyman, I authored a law that set up "alcohol-free seating" sections at Yankee Stadium over the apoplectic opposition of George Steinbrenner and the Yankee gotcha-machine (Steinbrenner threatened to sue me for opining that the Yankees were "legal drug dealers" with regard to alcohol. Unfortunately, he never did.)
It got more intense when I opposed New York City's $4 billion giveaway to the world's richest sports team to build a new Yankee Stadium at taxpayer expense. This plot was engineered by two Steinbrenners, Randy Levine and New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg. In that process I subpoenaed records of the negotiations. Read the report we issued. More concentrated greed and ego I never saw. Of particular interest is the fight between the Bloomberg and Levine about whether free food would be served at a free mayoral box that was part of the deal. But the Yankee's fight for every last penny of public subsidy is a triumph of socialist ideology.
With this background, I am not inclined to applaud when the Yankee PR machine is revved up. But I'm no fan of A-Rod's either, for all the reasons out there. I believe he hasn't told the truth, has juiced repeatedly, and has used tactics to fight the charges that harmed bystanders, innocent or not. I'll wait for all the evidence to make a final declaration, but he's done baseball, himself, the Yankees and the public a real disservice.
Some choice. Randy Levine's tough guy "put-up-or-shut-up" comments and references to the juicing allegations were met with threats by A-Rod's camp to reveal Levine emails that are "damning" and "expose him for what he is." The soft-headed Dempster may have heard these words as encouragement by the big boys to do his worst. Nice. Thank goodness for manager Joe Girardi whose strenuous defense of A-Rod reminded us of what honor on the field of battle looks like. Girardi aside, a hearty plague on both your houses. A-Rod, Levine and the Yankees deserve each other.
That's even clearer when we realize that what's really at stake is the remaining $114 million of A-Rod's original $275 million, 10-year contract that runs through 2016. The Yankees want and could get relief from some or all of it, and its salary cap effects, if the drug suspension sticks. A-Rod could have collected all of it if he retired from the active list before the suspension. That's the reason for all his continued optimistic announcements about readiness to play, and the Yankees denying it and delaying that date until the suspension was announced.
Just as it was in the Stadium subsidy deal, this controversy is emphatically about the money. Both sides will lawyer up and growl at each other. A-Rod will file a contract grievance about how the Yankee's misled him on medical issues. A negotiation will take place which starts with A-Rod's credible threat to collect it all and hammer the Yankees on next year's salary cap, and the Yankee's credible threat to cut him off without a penny.
They will settle for a healthy sum, A-Rod will retire, and baseball will be relieved of its largest headache since the Black Sox.
Left holding the bag, as usual, are We The Fans, who pay thousands for an individual ticket at a Stadium built with our money, who are regularly lied to about the extent of juicing and how to end it, and who have, it seems, infinite patience with this nonsense. Given what's happening in Washington and on Wall Street, you can see why it's called the National Pastime.
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