By Ken Davidoff
Alex Rodriguez, during his one-year banishment from baseball, considered retirement. He underwent therapy. He cursed himself for his decision to jump back into the dangerous waters of illegal performance-enhancing drugs, although he is skeptical that the drugs even worked.
The Yankees’ disgraced slugger exhibited impressive discipline for an extended period, avoiding the media limelight and limiting his public appearances to football games once the official verdict of his 162-game suspension came down last year. But it turns out he didn’t retreat into full radio silence after all.
In recent months, he granted access to J.R. Moehringer, a writer for ESPN The Magazine who wrote a wordy feature on A-Rod’s frenemy Derek Jeter last year for the same publication. The story will be published Wednesday morning.
From the samples released Tuesday by ESPN’s website, it smells like the same public A-Rod that he has sold to us forever: Contemplative, self-examining, self-mocking.
Deep, or at least desperately trying to be so.
“You had pocket aces!” Rodriguez told Moehringer, according to ESPN.com. “Pocket. Aces. And somehow you blew the hand. You could’ve walked away years ago. You could’ve grown a beard, gotten fat, and you’d have had a career to be proud of, and you’d be a lock for the Hall. But no. You had to … had to …”
Of course, it’s not clear at what point “years ago” this would have been. Before his 2009 confession? Before he failed the survey drug test in 2003? If A-Rod laments anything, it should be that he did just a weak job covering his tracks from lowlife and Major League Baseball star witness Anthony Bosch, who — fittingly enough — learned Tuesday he would receive a four-year prison sentence for being the mastermind behind Biogenesis.
And that leads us to our next nugget: A-Rod shared with Moehringer his suspicion Bosch’s drugs were even illegal, as in functional. Rodriguez wondered whether the drugs were placebos.
“Only me,” Rodriguez said. “Only a dope like me would do that stuff and have the two worst statistical seasons of my career.”
Bosch is sleazy enough he could have run low on operational funds and given A-Rod something harmless. More likely, however, is A-Rod put together his two worst statistical seasons because they were his age-35 and -36 campaigns, and he was a guy dealing with one surgically repaired hip and another headed in that direction. And that he would have done worse if not for Bosch’s assistance.
As for his pondering retirement “early” in his suspension, to steal a phrase from the 1980s, gag me with a spoon. We all “consider” stuff all of the time. Was he really going to make the Yankees’ decade and hand back the $61 million they owe him, however? I just don’t see it.
Therapy? Rodriguez courageously admitted back in 2005 he believed in counseling. Good for him that he still is going that route, although I’m not sure it takes a Ph.D. to explain his actions: He is accustomed to getting away with unacceptable behavior, and he is very competitive and insecure.
Let’s not even get into the idea he is “concerned” about telling the whole story to his 10-year-old daughter, Natasha. That’s his business, or at least it should be.
No reason to share that with the public, as he did with Moehringer.
A-Rod’s public statement, which he released Tuesday, was near-perfect: Simple, contrite and also rightly pointing to the fact he served his time and there is no need for any of us to go through a phony-baloney news conference.
He functions best as a villain, not caring what we think of him. He won’t get sympathy from anyone. Too bad for him that it looks like he still wants it.