Only bright spot in Bonds mess is actually A-Rod
Rodriguez not far off from breaking home run record
It’s a good thing Alex Rodriguez came to his senses when he did.
Now that federal officials have finally accused home run king Barry Bonds of lying about using steroids, the sooner somebody snatches his crown away the better. It needs to be done in the most public of spectacles, too, so we won’t even remember Bonds’ name by the time it’s over.
And no one does public spectacles better than Rodriguez and the New York Yankees.
In a way, it was fitting that news of A-Rod’s new deal with the Yankees was overshadowed by Bonds’ indictment on perjury and obstruction of justice charges. After all, Rodriguez crashed the Boston Red Sox’s World Series party with his announcement that he would explore free agency. But I digress. Bonds has cast an ugly shadow over baseball for long enough. His surliness and refusal to play nice even with his own teammates probably would have been tolerated. After all, Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth were hardly candidates for Humanitarian of the Year.
Bonds has made a mockery of the game the last few years, though, insisting his Michelin Man body and sudden increase in home runs were simply the result of hard work. Never mind that he was in his early 40s, magically gaining power at a time when every other player breaks down.
Everybody outside of San Francisco was certain there was more to his story, something a little more sophisticated than flaxseed oil. But with no admission of guilt, no conviction, no indictment, we had no choice but to watch as he commandeered one of the most cherished records in all of sport and pushed aside one of baseball’s finest men.
The man who had been king, Hank Aaron, was a model of integrity and character. His pursuit of the home run record was done with dignity, and he never once whined about all the challenges he faced.
Now it’s been tarnished and cheapened, as precious as a china set from a stadium gift shop. It needs to be restored, and for that, we happily look to A-Rod.
With 518 homers already, he’s 244 shy of the record. That might sound like a lot, but consider that he hit 54 last year. He averages about 43 homers a seasons, has failed to hit at least 35 just once in 12 years and is only 32.
Do the math, and Rodriguez should be closing in on the home run mark late in the 2013 season or in 2014.
Yes, A-Rod has baggage, too. There are his monster contracts and that money-grubbing, selfish grab for attention during Game 4 of the World Series. New York will never fit him as comfortably as it does Derek Jeter either.
Of course, it doesn’t help that he’s hit like a minor leaguer in October as the Yankees were bounced out early four years in a row doesn’t help.
But those are mere carry-ons to the steamer trunks Bonds toted around. A-Rod isn’t a true problem child, and he’s got six years to win back whatever good graces he’s lost.
Make no mistake, he’s eager for the challenge. You don’t sign a $252 million contract if you don’t crave the attention, and you certainly don’t allow your agent to tell the Yankees to pony up $350 million or else.
As soon as the words “opt out” were out of Scott Boras’ mouth last month, Rodriguez knew he’d made a mistake. The Los Angeles Angels or Dodgers might have given him more money than the $275 million he’s going to be guaranteed over 10 years from the Yankees. But his home run quest would have been more sideshow than main attraction.
No, he needs to be with the Yankees to set this record right.
The sooner Rodriguez makes Bonds’ name go away at the top of the record book, the better.