You no doubt heard this news late Friday when it broke, but I thought I'd provide a summary, in case you hadn't, and a place to discuss what this all means. First, in case you did miss it, Alex Rodriguez has dropped all his lawsuits:
After a year of warring with Major League Baseball, Alex Rodriguez effectively ended his battle on Friday, dropping his lawsuits against baseball and the players union over his doping suspension. Rodriguez, the Yankees’ third baseman, has accepted that he will be sidelined for the 2014 season and postseason — the longest suspension in the sport’s history for the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Without admitting to the use of banned substances, Rodriguez, 38, quietly submitted papers in federal court in New York seeking to dismiss two widely publicized lawsuits he had filed in recent months.
So those are the basic facts. Under baseball rules, A-Rod could have shown up at Yankees spring training, but he won't do that, and Craig Calcaterra adds:
One gets the distinct impression that Rodriguez has decided that being a pariah is not the best way to end his career. Whether it’s too late to mend fences and maybe — maybe — come back and play baseball again is an open question. But by ceasing to be a headache to MLB and the Yankees today, he’s taking at least a step in that direction.
Can those fences actually be mended? Regardless of whether he plays another game for the Yankees, they owe him $61 million from 2015-17. David Lennon of Newsday writes that the dropping of the lawsuit could be a move toward conciliation:
Rodriguez still has a lawsuit pending against the Yankees' medical team, and the name-calling between his attorneys and team president Randy Levine got very personal at times. As for Selig, he may be done as commissioner after this year, but all you need to know about the relationship between A-Rod and the commissioner can be summed up in that original 211-game suspension. Or Selig's view that he was being charitable by not pushing for a lifetime ban. Regardless, Rodriguez is free to return in 2015, and we doubt that the Yankees know what they plan to do with him after this season. After they blew past the $189-million luxury-tax threshold this offseason, we were reminded that money remains no object for the Yankees, and if eating the rest of Rodriguez's contract buys them some peace of mind, it's not beyond the realm of possibility. But as long as Kelly Johnson is manning third base for the Yankees, maybe bringing back Rodriguez, even at age 40, doesn't seem like such an awful idea. Plus, think of the ratings bonanza for YES. Love him or hate him, people can't stop watching A-Rod. Or reading about him.
That last part is undoubtedly true -- otherwise, why would I be writing this?
Kelly Johnson isn't a bad player, and perhaps by a year from now the Yankees will have found someone else to play third base (hint: the Cubs seem to have a logjam of good third-base prospects. Could we interest you in Christian Villanueva, Brian Cashman?).
It just doesn't seem to me that a nearly 40-year-old Rodriguez, who was just a bit above middling in the 44 games he played in 2013, coming back from a year's layoff, would be of any real use to the Yankees' lineup. (Incidentally, I don't think the suspension prevents A-Rod from playing independent-league baseball, and I wouldn't be surprised if he did this.)
The Yankees might be wise to just pay him the $61 million and release him, in which case any team could have him for the minimum salary. But who would want that media circus, surrounding a player whose on-field performance might not be all that good?
I think A-Rod has played his last major-league game, and good riddance. While the Biogenesis investigation that resulted in this suspension offered no testing proof of A-Rod's PED use, let's not forget that he himself admitted doing them several years ago and claimed to be clean after. We might never know the truth, but the sad part of this for A-Rod is, as it is for players like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, similarly accused, is that they were no-doubt, slam-dunk, first-ballot Hall of Famers without their alleged PED use.
Now their careers are forever tainted, and it will take a long time to remove the "cheater" stain from their legacies. It's a shame for A-Rod, because before all this was revealed, he appeared to be "the one" who would break records cleanly, and lead the game out of the Steroid Era. Instead, he becomes one of its poster boys.
Alex Rodriguez, you did this to yourself. No, Bud Selig and Major League Baseball aren't totally blameless here; there are no real winners in the aftermath of the Biogenesis mess.
Except for the players, who now seem nearly unified in their "clean up the game" view, and we as fans, who (hopefully) can now watch a sport where everyone's on a level playing field.