Alex Rodriguez will likely be fined by the New York Yankees for his latest walk on the wild side, a couple of days of absurd theater even by A-Rodian standards, and that penalty won't so much as dent the wages paid to the ultimate money player.
The $275 million man has much bigger problems to confront, anyway, problems a law firm used by Jay Z can't make disappear. Major League Baseball is believed to be at the tail end of its investigation into A-Rod's ties to Biogenesis and Tony Bosch, and it would be an upset if a suspension isn't handed down within the next week or two, a ban that could make Ryan Braun's 65-gamer look like a long holiday weekend.
For now, A-Rod is expected to appeal that sentence and to swear that the mountain of evidence against him rests on a foundation of lies told by those out to get him. The diminished slugger who in 2009 copped to earlier performance-enhancing-drug use after years of claims to the contrary is expected to go with the lying-yesterday, telling-the-truth-today approach, one that hasn't exactly served him well in the past.
And after this week, it would be awfully hard to believe Alex Rodriguez's take on anything involving his baseball career, or what's left of it. He refused to take calls to Tampa placed by team president Randy Levine and general manager Brian Cashman on Wednesday and early Thursday, and relented only after a middleman, trainer Tim Lentych, passed on word that the bosses were mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.
So after feeding an amateur-hour doctor to the news-media wolves -- a doctor who would've been better off not chasing Andy Warhol's 15 minutes of fame -- and after releasing a statement saying he was ready to play Friday night, Rodriguez got on a conference call with Levine, Cashman, Lentych and, of course, A-Rod's lawyer, Jordan Siev of Reed Smith, a firm that has represented Jay Z.
Siev's online bio says he "specializes in financial services litigation," not in Grade 1 quad strains that cause DEFCON 1 crises between the world's most famous ballclub and the impossibly flawed star it employs.
Rodriguez accepted the Yankees' timeline on that call, one that dismissed his public plea for a Friday night reinstatement in the Bronx and established a rehab-game target date of Aug. 1, and did so without putting up a spirited fight. In fact, according to a source, Rodriguez acted as if nothing was amiss, as if he'd never unleashed Dr. Gross on the masses and had never put out that statement daring the Yanks to bench his healthy bat and legs against the white-hot Tampa Bay Rays.
A-Rod would later tell WFAN that he "made it very clear to everyone I spoke to that I'm ready to go," and he characterized the extended rehab as an unnecessary evil. Asked in the interview if he trusts the Yankees, the same A-Rod who had told Levine he didn't trust team doctor Chris Ahmad declined to give a direct answer.
Of course, Alex Rodriguez telling you he doesn't trust you is a bit like Anthony Weiner telling you the same. A-Rod is the one who bailed on the Yankees' plan to have him ready to go in Texas on Monday night. A-Rod is the one who begged out of playing the field in his Triple-A game Saturday because of tightness in his quad. A-Rod is the one who required the same treatment on his injury Thursday that he got Wednesday after telling a trainer it felt "pretty good," and who declared himself healthy for Friday night without offering to fly to Texas for the game still to be played there.
"He wasn't running the bases in Tampa, or taking ground balls," one source said. "Even Lazarus doesn't rise from the dead like that."
The Yankees aren't the only ones furious with him for failing to follow protocol in soliciting a second medical opinion; the players' union is said to be, too. Some three weeks after Levine admitted his struggling team was "desperate" for a return of Rodriguez's right-handed power, A-Rod has proved to be the more desperate party by a country mile.
Dan Murphy, another Yankees doctor, decisively confirmed Ahmad's original diagnosis of a Grade 1 strain Thursday, a strain the good Dr. Gross somehow didn't see, leaving Rodriguez looking foolish for the sake of old times. Remember the first doctor A-Rod said had cleared him to play, Bryan Kelly, in the memorable tweet that inspired Cashman's wrath? Kelly would tell team officials he gave the third baseman no such green light.
It's always something with Alex. "I think the Yanks and I crossed signals," he said in the statement that preceded his call with Levine and Cashman. "I don't want any more mix-ups."
Mix-ups? Alex Rodriguez is a living, breathing mix-up.
The Yankees would love to give him the kind of eviction notice the city council just gave Madison Square Garden, except they'd love to enforce it 10 years earlier than the city will. Rodriguez has embarrassed them over the years on many PED fronts, as his reported PED associations with Bosch and HGH doctor Tony Galea and Cousin Yuri make a mockery of his work with the noble Taylor Hooton Foundation.
If A-Rod goes down like Braun did, his entire career will be reduced to an illusion. He'll go down as baseball's David Blaine.
Rodriguez knows it, too, so maybe he'll fight the sport's elders to the end the way Roger Clemens fought the feds to the end. Maybe the Jay Z people on his side, including public relations man Ron Berkowitz and Desiree Perez, will convince A-Rod that his own Yankees bosses are more dangerous opponents than the Boston Red Sox, and that he should keep playing dirty with them until he gets back on the field.
But after his behavior this week, a week in which the night-and-day differences between Rodriguez and fellow quad-squader Derek Jeter were never so clear, A-Rod will have a major problem when the Biogenesis case comes crashing down around him.
It's about his credibility. He has none.