Alex Rodriguez surrendered Friday. He’ll be going on 40 the next time we see him in a big-league uniform, if indeed that day ever comes. He’ll be a confessed cheater and a convicted cheater, separate life moments that lead back to similar deceitful choices and the same oddly insecure man.
He never did testify on his own behalf, given two chances to raise his right hand and countless other less formal opportunities. He sued his own union until, perhaps envisioning a long retirement served as a pariah, reconsidering. He led his attorneys into a full-scale battle against the system, when all anyone ever wanted to know was, "Did you?"
And what has he achieved?
Same as yesterday. Same as the day before.
He earned back 49 games, the difference between Bud Selig’s heavy-handed 211 and Fredric Horowitz’s reasoned 162. Given Rodriguez’s status as the highest-paid player in the game, a third of a season is not insignificant, maybe $6 million, but we’re guessing that money had long ago had been earmarked for his attorneys’ children’s college tuition.
After all the threats, all the desk-slamming theatrics, all the legal saber-rattling, all the attacks on the game, the commissioner and the former head of the players’ union, and the slow-to-the-trigger denials, it’s done. More done. At last.
Late on a Friday afternoon, which is when spin doctors reveal the news they’d rather not have everyone dwell upon, Team A-Rod withdrew its lawsuit against Major League Baseball and the MLBPA. It also dropped a second lawsuit, that against Selig and MLB. Rodriguez will not attend spring training, though he had promised – or threatened, something or another – to show up when the rest of the New York Yankees did.
Perhaps this is an attempt to make nice with the Yankees, who still owe Rodriguez about $63 million through 2017, and MLB, which merely answered every one of Rodriguez’s lawyers with a couple of its own, and the union, which for the better part of a month has endeavored to distance itself from the prodigal A-Rod.
Perhaps Rodriguez was tired of losing. Tired of the story. Tired of spending the money to defend it. Tired of being hauled from hearing to hearing in black cars, painting on smiles, hustling a wary public that knew the hustle almost before he did.
Or, maybe, he began to understand that it’s one thing to sell your hustle to the masses, quite another to do it from the big chair up front in a federal courthouse.
The consequences become quite grave. A couple weeks in Cancun probably would be out of the question.
Whatever has possessed Rodriguez, MLB and the union are delighted.
MLB, which, for a year, had conducted a you-mess-with-our-game-we-mess-with-you campaign against all the Biogenesis boys, but Rodriguez in particular, called his decision "prudent."
“We believe that Mr. Rodriguez’s actions show his desire to return the focus to the play of our great game on the field and to all of the positive attributes and actions of his fellow Major League players,” the league said in a statement. “We share that desire.”
The Players Association mumbled, “Alex Rodriguez has done the right thing by withdrawing his lawsuit. His decision to move forward is in everyone’s best interest.”
An email asking Rodriguez to explain the change of heart/strategy went unanswered. Same with an email to his PR man.
Perhaps it is best not to guess. So, we’ll guess.
Rodriguez did not want to be despised by his fellow players for the rest of his life. He likes to be liked. And, in truth, outside the past six months or so, he’s a reasonably likeable man. Does some goofy things. Says some goofy stuff. But, still likeable.
It dawned on him that seemingly the only people on earth who believed he had a chance to overturn the arbitrator’s decision were on his payroll. Now, a “shock the world” cry might be fine at halftime of a college football game, but it doesn’t carry well in a courtroom, where legal precedent does not lend itself to much world-shocking.
Then, maybe, Rodriguez grew up some. He got away from his lawyers, removed himself from the pitch-at-a-time hysteria of strategy sessions and hearings, and asked himself, “Is this who I am? Is this what I will continue to be? Forever?”
He screwed up. A lot, it seems. Consequences occur. He’s not alone in that. Read down big-league rosters everywhere.
There’s this saying: “Dance to the music, you gotta pay the band.”
Alex has danced his ass off. And, honestly, the band just wants to go home.