Alex Rodriguez has a big chance here to step to the plate long before his injured hip is declared game-ready. This is his time to come clean, to finally deliver the full narrative of his baseball life, even if that means conceding his entire career amounts to a work of fiction, or nothing more than a hoax.
Rodriguez should not let some alleged charlatan, Tony Bosch, tell that story. ESPN's "Outside the Lines" is reporting that Bosch, founder of the infamous Biogenesis of America clinic, has agreed to cooperate with MLB officials investigating whether he supplied performance-enhancing drugs to Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and other big league players, and that Bosch could meet with those officials within a week to begin naming names and identifying potions and pills.
Rodriguez should beat Bosch to it. For once, he should get ahead of the story for a reason other just getting ahead of the story.
He should hold a news conference and tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but, and if that truth runs counter to baseball's laws, he should accept his punishment like the man he says he has become. If that means A-Rod is suspended for 100 games, so be it. If Bud Selig wants to try to hit him even harder in the best interests of baseball, A-Rod should take that punch, too.
But he shouldn't run his next story by a focus group, or some circle of union reps and crisis managers and spin doctors only looking to contain the damage. He should run his next story by the man in his mirror, and then let it rip for public consumption, the consequences be damned.
No more bull about "boli" and your cousin in 2009. No more telling reporters that you only injected PEDs, that you didn't take any orally, only to appear to expose yourself by saying, "I knew we weren't taking Tic Tacs."
No more swearing that you used only an underground chemist for a few years in Texas -- and never as a New York Yankee -- before the penalty phase of the sport's drug program kicked in. No more confessing only after the news media has already published the goods. No more maintaining that you don't know Tony Bosch from Tony Bennett.
No more doing any of these things unless, of course, you are 100 percent innocent of the charge of being a pharmacological fraud.
If A-Rod's denials are genuine this time around, like they weren't last time around, he should shout it over the Yankee Stadium speakers, and then let Bosch have his say with Selig's lieutenants. Rodriguez almost never wins these he-said, he-said games, so maybe he's due to score an upset victory.
But then again, maybe A-Rod is lying in the present just as he lied in the past. And if that's the case, the slugger shouldn't let Tony Bosch become his Howie Spira. If Rodriguez is going down, then Rodriguez himself should be the one to do the honors.
The lies always catch up to you in the end, whether you're Pete Rose or Lance Armstrong or some would-be administrator at Rutgers. On Opening Day in April, in the wake of the Miami New Times report linking him to PEDs allegedly supplied by Biogenesis, a supposed anti-aging clinic in the Miami area, A-Rod was too embarrassed to be introduced to the fans along with his teammates.
The Yankees wouldn't allow him to speak in the same interview room used by Joe Girardi and Mariano Rivera in the pregame, and wouldn't even allow him to stand in the clubhouse hallway near a banner carrying the team logo when addressing reporters. Having effectively declared him a non-person, the Yankees want the third baseman and the balance of his ghastly $275 million contract to disappear much sooner rather than later.
"You know what I worry about?" Girardi said at the Stadium on Tuesday night. "I worry about baseball being affected, as a game, the whole thing, with what it's been through in the last 15 years."
Rodriguez has put baseball through a lot. Long before anyone ever heard of Tony Bosch, A-Rod understood he was the ultimate high-maintenance celebrity, and one that a high-ranking official likened to Lindsay Lohan.
"I think I created a lot of that for myself," Rodriguez told me in 2011. "I had a lot of maturing to do, and I've done that. I think a lot of the noise around me was self-imposed … and I made it easier for you guys to write about me. But what I've done now is basically eliminated a lot of that stuff and just play baseball."
Five months later, MLB announced it was taking "very seriously" A-Rod's reported involvement in high-stakes poker games. Rodriguez pulled me aside one day to specifically address a Star Magazine report that claimed one poker player had used cocaine in his presence. A-Rod wanted to make it clear that he had never, ever seen cocaine, and that he had never, ever used recreational drugs. I believed him. Still do.
But Rodriguez has already copped once to PED use, in the spring of 2009. Two of his friends, including Yankees PR man Jason Zillo, would later stage an intervention in a Tampa diner, where they screamed at him until he agreed to become less of a drama queen and more of a baseball player.
Rodriguez led the Yankees to a World Series title that fall, but the parade had become a distant memory last October, when A-Rod was reduced to a benchwarmer who couldn't hit -- except when hitting on women in the stands.
Now Rodriguez isn't merely a diminished star who has endured another surgery; he's a man again accused of crossing over to baseball's dark side. Monday, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said the team has been "disappointed" in A-Rod at times.
Imagine how disappointed Steinbrenner feels right now.
"We all hope he can act like a Yankee," Steinbrenner said Monday, "and do the best he can to live up to it."
Act like a Yankee? For all the mythology attached to being a home run hero in the Bronx, the Yanks have employed their share of losers and louts.
Rodriguez shouldn't act like a Yankee here. He should act like a man, an honorable one, and finally tell the whole story about his career.
Even if it's the same story Tony Bosch is prepared to share with MLB.