COMMENTARY | How does one defend the most hated Yankee since William Tecumseh Sherman?
Ardent New York Yankees fans - the ones unwilling to say anything negative about anyone in pinstripes - have their work cut out for them when it comes to defending Alex Rodriguez's connection to an anti-aging clinic in Miami known for doling out performance-enhancing drugs. Defending an oversized contract, admissions of past steroids use, and horrific postseason performances are enough to defend.
Even current Yankees are having trouble putting up a defense.
Derek Jeter said he won't talk about Rodriguez until A-Rod talks. ("Let him speak first and then we'll talk about that," Jeter said.) A few days later, C.C. Sabathia signed onto the Jeter Doctrine. ("I'm going to take Jete's stance and wait until (A-Rod) comments, and just wait and see what happens," Sabathia said.)
Brian Cashman won't even comment on the secret location of his recovering slugger and doesn't want to comment on Rodriguez other than to say that he wished he didn't have to comment on Rodriguez. ("This is an ugly story that we wish didn't exist, but it's there. We'll take the time to let it process," Cashman said.)
Rodriguez has not spoken publicly about the latest allegations beyond denying them through his public relations firm.
For a problem like this, bring in the greatest closer in the history of the game - Mariano Rivera.
"We have to embrace him. He's our teammate," Rivera said. Mark Teixeira quickly followed suit. ("Just like Mo said, you support your family," he said.)
The Mo Defense is pretty simple, but ardent fans may need a secondary defense if they find themselves in an argument over A-Rod.
Commenters on Yahoo! Contributor Network might be able to help.
Amid a cacophony of vitriol, there have been a few comments in recent weeks - quickly pounced on, not surprisingly - defending Rodriguez. A couple of examples:
- YCN Defense 1: "If your profession had something you could take to be better than your peers which would lead to better pay you wouldn't take it? Stop judging."
Not a bad approach. It's a tad better than "Everybody else was doing it" and places the burden back on A-Rod's detractors.
- YCN Defense 2: "Here we have a classic 'rush to judgment.' The media will hype the daylights out of this, but so far we have only circumstantial information. It would seem to me to be amazingly stupid of Alex to engage in taking additional PEDs after what he went through, including his admission of using them previously. Let's wait a bit before total condemnation."
The "Rush to Judgement" defense worked for O.J. Simpson, so why not A-Rod?
Here a few other defense to consider:
- "What's the big deal about PED use? Most of the players in the '70s were using amphetamines. Heck, Dock Ellis pitched a no-hitter while under the influence of LSD. Remember Ball Four?"
- "This is a media-generated story. The same writers who wanted to make a name for themselves by not voting anyone into the Hall of Fame have created this story without one shred of evidence."
- "If A-Rod were guilty of using PEDs, the league would have suspended him."
- "Why would A-Rod need to use steroids? He's one of the best home run hitters in the history of the game."
Not surprisingly, I ask that if anyone uses these above defenses, please leave my name out of it.
Howard Z. Unger is a freelance journalist in Brooklyn, New York. For the past 15 years, he has written about sports, media, and popular culture. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, New York Post, and New York Times.