1. America learns a valuable lesson
October 18th, 2015
If you are reading this, consider yourself one of the lucky ones. You are not on the Eastern Seaboard and wondering if each day is going to be your last. We only get a precious half an hour of Internet a day before the brownouts, so I must write this quickly. Future generations must remember.
It all started innocently enough. Alex Rodriguez was reinstated to play Major League Baseball. It’s fine, everyone said. He served his time, everyone said. It’s “just” PEDs, the apologists cackled. Stop comparing A-Rod to murderers and blowing this all out of proportion, they yelled, dismissing the hennypennies.
His fast start right out of the gate should have been a warning sign. Nine home runs in his first 26 games. A .387 batting average. The contingent of Yankee fans who had called him a cheating scumbag recanted, and it was 2007 all over again. “Something isn’t quite right” a few of the nattering New York sportswriters said. “He’s getting help” one of the more strident ones implied. “What do you want from him?” the vast majority of sheeple responded. “He passed the tests” become a chant that quickly filled the Stadium, and then stadia throughout the land, as power starved fans of every team embraced the resurgence and the villain became the hero.
Late in May, it was hard to ignore the obvious. ARod was bigger, and it wasn’t just his muscles. A-Rod was an entire seven inches taller and his head was two sizes larger. He was also more easily prone to anger when reporters asked him about his training regimen. Soon, he wouldn’t see the reporters at all.
By the time an enterprising investigator surreptitiously followed A-Rod and found out what he was doing, it was already too late. A-Rod had built his own laboratory and was making his own steroid cocktail by night. They had worked and they didn’t show up on the tests, but he hadn’t been able to make them so that he could stop the growth process. By mid-June, A-Rod was 12 feet tall. He had 35 home runs by June 17, but by this point the cheers had stopped, and people were afraid. Major League Baseball suspended Rodriguez for steroids due to a preponderance of evidence, even though once again he had not failed a single test.
Rodriguez disappeared. But he returned in September. He was 50 feet tall and ravaged mentally by the effects of his evil concoction. He rampaged through Manhattan before anyone knew what was happening. By the time the U.N. and U.S. armies had caught up with him, he had destroyed Philadelphia, Baltimore, Boston, and Washington D.C.
I don’t know where A-Rod is now. The police have fled, many have gone into hiding, and I am scared for my life. I wish we had all listened to the journalists who had said that A-Rod’s transgressions were bigger than the game and who had equated him with history’s greatest monster. We called it equivocation. We should have called it what it was: the truth! —Mike Gianella
2. "You're not Je-ter, clap clap clap-clap-clap
It's going to happen. I'm not sure whether it will be opponent fans trolling poor A-Rod or whether it'll be Yankee fans themselves taking out their frustrations on a third(!) straight season of not making the playoffs, but A-Rod picked a really bad time to come back. Not only is the first initial of your first name – first syllable of your last name thing over, but he's coming back right after the love-fest that was Derek Jeter's farewell tour. And he's not Jeter. When we last saw A-Rod playing actual baseball, he was a passably decent third baseman who still had some vestiges of his power. Now, he's 18 months older, coming off of the third PED scandal of his career, and will mostly be limited to DH duties. There's almost no chance that he will live up to his rather pricey contract and a decent chance that he will be just another old veteran guy who, if not for the brand name, would belong to the Hall of "Oh yeah, I remember that guy… is he still in baseball?"
In other words, he's a huge target and he just happens to be linked to the most celebrated player of the last decade who just retired and plays in the biggest media market in baseball. This is gonna get ugly. —Russell A. Carleton
3. Cromulent player,
dealt at deadline
When BP sent around the topic for this week's Lineup Card, I wasn't paying enough attention. It said "predictions for Alex Rodriguez" or something like that and so I sent in the reply, "Cromulent player, dealt at deadline." Makes sense. Rodriguez is 39 and hasn't played in a year due to a PED suspension, but he is one of the all time great hitters and so it's reasonable to assume he's got something approaching league average or slightly above left. So the "cromulent player" part is defensible, but I forgot about his contract.
I was thinking the Yankees would want to be rid of him, they'd might be out of it at the deadline or at least the first few months of the season will reveal they don't have a spot open for Rodriguez what with the signing of Chase Headley to take over Rodriguez's former stomping grounds at third, and all the other old players on the roster taking up the DH. So a trade seemed like a possibility. But I forgot about Rodriguez' contract. You probably didn't because Rodriguez and his contract are pretty much the same thing these days. Both have been around a long time and are, as these things go, on the obscene side. The contract pays Rodriguez $64 million over the next three seasons, plus as much as $30 million more based on bonuses for passing certain home-run milestones. I can't imagine the Yankees paying another team what could be almost $90 million to take Rodriguez. Though in fairness, I have a hard time imagining them paying Rodriguez that money either. Maybe I should predict some sort of insane legal battle that lasts decades, or maybe the Steinbrenners will say "the heck with it" and sell the team to Rodriguez who can then pay himself $90 million.
Still I'm backing off the traded thing. Cromulent seems fair shot in the dark though. —Matthew Kory
4. Rodriguez approaches 3,000 hits, and then…
Mr. Rodriguez is 61 hits from 3000. According to PECOTA, the 40th percentile has him knocking at least 63 hits, so let’s pretend he’s almost at that mark in September, while the Yankees are out of the playoffs. He hits no. 2999 on the road. From them on:
[non-intentional intentional walk]
[Ryan Dempster comes out of retirement, signs with the Red Sox, just hits the bejeezus out of him]
[Ryan Dempster continues to throw baseballs at him in the parking lot] —Matt Sussman
5. Derek Jeter and A-Rod become a thing again
November 1st, 2015
When I look back at what happened to you after all these years, I still find myself in a bit of shock. Who could’ve known that the friend I used to have sleepovers with would plummet to these depths. And who would’ve guessed the self-absorbed man I shared a locker room with would ride out into the twilight of his career with the dignity, grace, and poise that you did? I’ve often wondered about the photo shoot you did where you kissed the mirror. Back when we played together it seemed to me that the photo was the perfect summation for what you became. The message laced into the photograph was clear and your intentions seemed dark and lost. But now I look back at that photo and realize something.
It seems to me that your reflection wasn’t kissing you back.
Perhaps that photo was a turning point for you. Perhaps in 2014 you looked back at that photo and realized the same thing, that you didn’t really love yourself and went on a journey of self-discovery that was rich, rewarding, and offered a release that you haven’t had. What you did in 2015, asking for forgiveness, putting the team’s needs before your own, becoming a redemption story, was amazing and inspiring.
I’m reaching out to you again, Alex. Things will never be as they were. We’ve grown older and drifted apart to a place where we can never reclaim what we were. But the occasional brunch would be nice.
You know where to find me. -DJ
6. Rodriguez is perfectly normal
The most surprising thing Alex Rodriguez could do this season is simply this: be boring. Encourage no headlines, give no pithy quotes, hit an exactly-league-average .251/.314/.386. while mostly DHing. Have no portraits painted as a centaur. Invoke St. Jeter, but only occasionally in extremely scripted post-game quote-fests. Give balls to small children, but quietly, maybe, and by all means don't act like you're anything but grateful that you get this (one last?) chance to play the game.
Of course, there are two actual likely options: Rodriguez comes back and plays like a man possessed, killing dinger records and looking like he's never stepped away from third base, causing the Yankees to trade Chase Headley mid-season. Or, Rodriguez plays like a 39-year-old who hasn't been on a professional team in more than a year, starts more games at DH than third, and is more of a liability than an asset on a Yankees team without many assets to speak of. —Kate Morrison
7. Rodriguez provides solid Veteran presence with surprisingly decent contributions on the field, in the clubhouse
It’s probably because I remember his Seattle days so well, but “Alex Rodriguez: villain” has always felt a bit foreign to me. Sure, he’s lied, cheated, and thrown friends under the bus. His late career has featured an avalanche of dumb, immature, destructive, and narcissistic behavior, and it’s not hard to see why he annually appears on ‘turkeys of the year’ lists. Still, there’s just something about the monster that Rodriguez has become that doesn’t jibe with my decades-old memory of A-Rod consoling a despondent Joey Cora.
Maybe the narrative goes the other way in 2015. Nearly forty years old now, Rodriguez is in the twilight of his career, and there’s a chance that sitting out the 2014 season will have mentally rejuvenated the aging third basemen. Maybe he takes a rookie or two under his wing, or dispenses timely advice about how not to talk with the media. Perhaps something about seeing the end of his career will make Rodriguez look back to the beginning, when he was commonly regarded as a likable and welcoming teammate.
That may be wishful thinking, but it’s more realistic to project Rodriguez to bounce back on the diamond. Whatever his faults, nobody has ever doubted Rodriguez’s work ethic or baseball talent, and while he’s probably done as an everyday player, there’s a chance he still has a good stick. If he can still hit—all the better if he can stand around third base once in a while—he could help the Yankees get back to the playoffs in 2015. —Brendan Gawlowski
8. Rodriguez breaks Barry Bonds' single-season home-run record
I promise you I came up with this prediction even before A-Rod announced to the world he was dead-set on breaking Barry Bonds’s career home-run record.
But really, it makes sense. Bonds and Rodriguez are natural allies. They are probably the two most talented players of my lifetime, playing with an impossible combination of skills that made them beyond-elite players. Notably, they are half of the 40-40 club. They are also two of the most reviled figures in baseball, which they seem to embrace. The hate sustains them and motivates them. If Bonds would want anyone in baseball to succeed, it would be A-Rod. The two of them worked out together
Seventy-four home runs sounds like a reach, sure. Rodriguez’s single-season high is 57, which came in 2007. But consider that aside from 2001, Bonds never even cracked 50! Alex is also 40, while Bonds was 36. Still, Alex has the freedom of zero expectations. He is driven to prove everyone wrong, and with Bonds’s help with his swing—plus whatever else Barry provided him, wink-wink—the face of the New York Yankees should be destined for greatness once again. —Dan Rozenson
9. He apologizes for nothing
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