Scandal comes with the territory for A-Rod

Tim Brown
Yahoo! Sports

"It's BS," a friend of Alex Rodriguez's(notes) told me Wednesday night, and of course I asked him which part.

The part about the poker games or the movie stars or the Hollywood mansion or the coke or the fight or the thousands in losses or the sultry saloon keeper/madam/pit boss/Bond girl?

All of it? Some of it?

He'd get back to me.

Alex Rodriguez is currently batting .295 with 13 homers for the Yankees. He's on the disabled list following knee surgery.
(US Presswire)

"It's seedy," an MLB official told me Thursday morning, and of course I didn't have to ask.

It's all seedy.

That's why the room was filled with men. Rich men. That's why our alleged Mae West character was in business, because men with money and time and egos have to air them all out once in a while, usually when the feds aren't looking.

The seedier the better, in fact, as long as the cigars and whisky are top end and the couches are sewn in Italian leather.

If not entirely harmless, these penthouse parlor games rank with other requirements of wealth and fame – dog carrying, preternatural condescension and Congressional steroid hearings – as stuff regular folks can't be bothered with. We try to think of the final pot winners not as IRS-ducking, mob-vulnerable miscreants, but as job creators. We sleep better that way.

Then Star Magazine dropped A-Rod into the middle of the game and, well, of course it did. What makes Rodriguez different is he plays baseball, and what makes baseball different is Shoeless Joe Jackson, a World Series played almost a century ago and Pete Rose, the kind of memories that make commissioners' heads leak.

[Yahoo! Sports Radio: Alex Rodriguez is a 'drama magnet']

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What also makes Rodriguez different is his stature, his talent, and a most remarkable gift for pratfall. What he does not discover in the way of predicament and humiliation discovers him. It is a partnership of clumsiness and remorse, a not-quite-destructive cycle often followed by a long home run or three. Once it was followed by a liberating championship. But the cycle does not slow.

Really, it must be exhausting.

The steroids accusation and admission were scarring. The rest is just part of life – A-Rod's life, the one he chose – and a deliberate advancement on adulthood, that spent waiting for his sensibilities to catch up with his body and game. Those parts have occasionally lacked composure, just as they did maliciousness.

Now he's been accused again of playing poker with his own money in a room filled with adults and if it's true I couldn't be less interested, same as if he'd been, say, greeting tourists at the front door of a casino, or even holding his winter meetings in Las Vegas.

Now, Alex Rodriguez didn't need this. The New York Yankees didn't need this. And Major League Baseball didn't, either.

League officials got wind of the latest about a month ago and have been piecing it together in preparation for another conversation with Rodriguez regarding the hazards of consorting with gamblers. Baseball can't take the hit that would come with that sort of scandal, not as it's wriggling out of the last one, which weakened the integrity of its game and a generation of ballplayers.

[Related: Has the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry turned boring?]

Baseball's investigation is simply following the action. The magazine said Rodriguez was gambling, that cocaine was available, and that a fight broke out when somebody came up about a half-million dollars short. This after Rodriguez was warned in the past to avoid the illegal games.

"We had to look into it," a baseball official said.

View photos

Alex Rodriguez co-hosted a celebrity poker tournament with Jay Z in 2006.
(Getty Images)

Well, good. They should. And if it serves as a reminder that one would be unwise to rise from a poker table and promise your new pal Leo to throw Game 7 of the World Series, then OK, if that's really what it takes.

And, all right, maybe Rodriguez should have thought better about wandering into what for anyone else would be nothing more than a mildly amusing evening.

With great couches and cigars, let's not forget.

It's probably why Rodriguez stopped in with a friend a couple years ago, and will tell baseball he left after maybe half-an-hour.

"There's nothing to it," Rodriguez's friend reported back. "It's all a bunch of BS."

At some point, Rodriguez, who is rehabilitating from knee surgery in Tampa, will pick up the phone and talk to MLB and tell his side.

He walked in. He watched. He did not participate. He saw no cocaine. He left.

Maybe that's the truth, too.

Meantime, Rodriguez was said to be "perturbed" at Star Magazine's report, but comfortable with his own version of that night from almost two years ago.

Rodriguez's publicist released a statement Thursday that said the report had "numerous factual inaccuracies," adding Rodriguez, "looks forward to cooperating with Major League Baseball's investigation."

He knows the drill, after all. It's become part of being him, BS or not.

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