Alex Rodriguez took one step toward trying to return to baseball on Friday, the problem is he has about 10,000 more to go.
MLB and an independent arbitrator both felt A-Rod was guilty of taking performance-enhancing drugs, but A-Rod never wanted to face that truth. So if he heard something he didn't want to from all his lawyers and PR people over the past year, he did what he has always done -- he fired them. Until he got to a team who told him he could fight, sue people and then try to find another venue to go after it.
But A-Rod -- and make no mistake about this, this was A-Rod's final call, no one else's -- finally saw there was nowhere left to go, so he had to swallow the suspension instead of losing another $10 million in pointless litigation.
So what A-Rod should do next to give himself some shot of returning to the game is start a full-on apology tour. Quite honestly, after setting off fires with Bud Selig, Selig's No. 2 Rob Manfred and nearly the entire Yankees organization, I don't know if this will even help A-Rod find any good graces. But it is his only shot if he truly doesn't want to end up like Pete Rose, blackballed for life.
A-Rod likes to believe what A-Rod likes to believe. Whatever that is today, he should just admit everything he did, as soon as possible, say that his actions were wrong and wish he could have a do-over. Then he should go away for the year.
There are different roads in the post-PED game. There is Roger Clemens' route, which has worked out OK for him. Clemens was crazy enough to risk going to jail to try to clear his name and now he is going into the Red Sox Hall of Fame.
There is the Lance Armstrong way. Armstrong just took down everyone he could to preserve himself. In the end, he finally capitulated, but it was too late.
There is the Andy Pettitte way. He just apologized, got out in front of everything and his sincerity won over most people.
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Ryan Braun started going the Clemens/Armstrong direction, but U-turned to the Pettitte way without any other option. Braun has a chance to change his story because he is still young.
A-Rod is old and injured. Even with three years and $60-plus million remaining on his deal, it is hard to imagine he will return as a Yankee again or, for that matter, for any other team. But if he wants a chance, he needs to apologize in the most sincere way possible: in person, on TV, everywhere he goes.
It still might not be enough, because, unlike Pettitte or Braun, or even Clemens and Armstrong, it has been a long time since Rodriguez has been particularly likeable.
It may be -- probably is -- too late for A-Rod, but if he is to have any chance it starts with saying he is sorry.