Only bright spot in Bonds mess is ac­tu­ally A-Rod

Ro­driguez not far off from break­ing home run record

The Covington News - - SPORTS - By Nancy Ar­mour

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.

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