Nobody misses old A-Rod

Peter Abraham on the new (and refreshing!) A-Rod:

    Mark McGwire once told Congress he would campaign against steroids use and got all weepy about it. Seen him lately?
    But Alex Rodriguez has stayed true to his promise. He was at a school in Baltimore yesterday delivering an anti-PED message to young athletes.

    Alex asked that the media not be allowed in, which I believe attests to his sincerity.

    You have to give Alex credit, he has managed to blend in, stay out of the news and generally avoid the clownish behavior that marked his first few years with the Yankees. That the team is on pace for 100+ wins probably isn't a coincidence.

It probably isn't. Let me ask you this, though: Has Rodriguez not been a distraction because he's not been a distraction? Or has he not been a distraction because he's surrounded by highly skilled professional baseball players?
Back in the spring, I was asked many times during radio spots, "Will A-Rod be a distraction for the Yankees?"

My answer was, always has been, and always will be something like this: "I doubt it. If these guys couldn't thrive regardless of what's happening around them, they wouldn't be the players they are."

I'm sure that things in Yankeeland are more pleasant when Alex isn't acting the fool. But were things pleasant for the Yankees in the late '70s? They called that team a Zoo, for gosh sakes. Let's assume for a moment that A-Rod was behaving clownishly this season ... How many fewer wins would the Yankees have, right now? One? Two? They'd still be heading into October as favorites to win the World Series.

With the notable exception of A-Rod's early injury, the Yankees have been exceptionally healthy this season. Of their 10 important hitters, eight have been significantly better than more than 20 percent better than league average. Four starting pitchers have started at least 25 games. Mariano Rivera is enjoying one of the greatest seasons of his great career.

The Yankees have baked a big and beautiful and tasty cake. Rodriguez's behavior isn't even the frosting on top. It's those little sugary candies that you sprinkle on top, purely for looks.