The more I think about the report out of Miami, the more I think we've seen the last of Alex Rodriguez in a major league uniform. It's a sad ending to a great career, but a career that will remain forever tarnished, a career that now will be remembered as much for admitted PED use and alleged PED use as it will be for the 647 home runs and three Most Valuable Player Awards.
Back in A-Rod's early days with the Mariners, backup catcher John Marzano used to wear an Alex Rodriguez T-shirt, one of those goofy caricature shirts that were popular back then. It was Marzano's way of poking fun at Rodriguez, at a kid who was obviously a once-in-a-lifetime type of talent -- and knew it. Veterans appreciated the kid's ability, but in baseball a kid still has to earn his teammates' respect, no matter the numbers he puts up.
But the numbers weren't enough for Rodriguez. He chased even bigger numbers, leaving the cold, damp air of Seattle for the hitting paradise in Texas. He chased the dollars and then even bigger dollars. He chased drugs to enhance his performance, but, hey, everyone was doing it, and to his credit he later owned up to it. Now it appears he continued using PEDs, even after saying he had stopped. Maybe he just wanted to stay healthy; maybe he wanted to chase the biggest number of all: Barry Bonds' all-time home run record.
He never understood the kicker to all of this, however: We long ago stopped caring if he broke the record or not. He lost the admiration of most baseball fans years ago. Maybe it's not fair to paint that picture. He's not hated in the same sense of Bonds and Clemens. More than anything, he's ridiculed for the various misdemeanors through the years: Slapping Bronson Arroyo's glove, the popcorn incident, the shirtless photographs, the girlfriends. You know the list of transgressions.
And now? Now he's a broken-down old ballplayer with a bad hip, a slow bat and perhaps a new PED stain. He's Willie Mays stumbling in the outfield, Mickey Mantle limping to first base. Who wants to deal with that? Who knows if he can even play again this season following his January surgery. After that? If you're the Yankees, why bother? Sure, they can try and void the remaining years on his contract -- almost $100 million will still be left after 2013 -- but if they can't do that, they should just take option B: Take the insurance money and give Rodriguez his release. They can afford to eat the millions.
What other team would want him? Is he worth the risk that he can stay healthy and produce? When he was on the field last year for the 122 games he played in the regular season, Rodriguez was still reasonably productive, hitting .272/.353/.430. OK numbers. Not Alex Rodriguez numbers. Not worth-the-headache numbers, especially in New York and its inherent media circus. It was his fifth straight year of decline, however, and there's no reason not to expect a sixth or a seventh or an eighth. If I'm the general manager of another team, I stay away.
He's 37 years old and a rich man. The numbers read .300 career average, fifth on the all-time home run list, seventh in RBIs, 10th in runs scored and ninth in total bases.
He was a fantastic player and I suppose we shouldn't forget that.
But he should have learned to laugh at John Marzano's T-shirt.