A-Rod has time to turn it around

February, 15, 2009
No, I did not know Alex Rodriguez would reveal what he revealed. No, I have never interviewed anyone who drained himself more intensely as he tore off his mask for the world to see.

Of course, in time, much more will come for Rodriguez, as someone somewhere will uncover every crack in his life. But if he fulfills the last nine years of his contract, it may be 14 years before his name goes on the Hall of Fame ballot, and he could then have until 2038 to get into Cooperstown.

There are those who won't vote for anyone whose name was ever attached to any performance-enhancing drug, so it may be good we never had the world of greenies, diet pills and red juice from the '50s, '60s and '70s revealed to us. But by the time A-Rod approaches Barry Bonds' home run record, he will have had time to build his case.

He can produce his drug test records from 2004 through 2008. He can continue his argument that his best season was 2007 and, therefore, that he played his best when he was clean. Starting this season, he can try to persuade the union -- if there is one come July -- to reveal all his drug tests. Come to think of it, every player who wants a level playing field and is angered by his association with the era should try to make his results public record if he so chooses, because players have parted with the union and now know that nobody's right if everybody's wrong. A-Rod can work with the commissioner's office as an anti-drug evangelist.

And six, seven or eight years from now when A-Rod passes Bonds' home run record, he will have had adequate time to state his case, and in another eight years he could have his record placed in front of the Hall of Fame voters.

I maintain this about Rodriguez: I've never seen him fail to play hard. He has never come across as if he didn't care. Would he have fessed up had he not known he was caught? Of course not, but don't hold your breath waiting for the other 103 to raise their hands.

A-Rod's bucks may be larger, but this rodeo won't stop with him. This week rumors surfaced about a raid on an Atlanta house that some felt contained a mail-order PED business. Other rumors surfaced about crackdowns on doctors' illegally supplying painkillers, and some of their lists may contain the names of present or former athletes.

So by the time Rodriguez's name appears on the HOF ballot, the sports world may be a far, far different place.

We do not yet know the full impact of the economy on ticket sales in Detroit, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Atlanta, Washington and other cities. But to listen to the discussion of attendance during the 1930s on XM Radio's "MLB Home Plate" and to be reminded of the stark reality that attendance dropped 40 percent in the six years after the stock market crash is to reiterate what many general managers believe: Some very significant players will be available in June to any team capable of assuming their contracts. The recession-impacted teams simply have to understand that legitimate prospects have value and probably won't be available from teams willing to assume bad contracts. On matters of age, encompassing how draft-pick compensation and steroids have impacted decisions: 1. Jason Varitek came into the Red Sox's camp declining to speculate about playing time, although manager Terry Francona did say he wanted to give Varitek more rest than just on days Tim Wakefield starts. Varitek will turn 37 on April 11, and here are the catchers in baseball history who have caught 100 games in a season at age 37: Bob Boone (147), Brad Ausmus(138), Carlton Fisk (130), Benito Santiago (125), Ernie Whitt (115) and Elston Howard (100).

2. Negating every accomplishment by players in their late 30s or early 40s as products of the steroids era isn't completely fair. The 10 players who hit the most home runs in their 40s are mostly from the non-steroids era -- Fisk, Darrell Evans, Bonds, Dave Winfield, Carl Yastrzemski, Stan Musial, Henry Aaron, Hank Sauer, Andres Galarraga and Ted Williams.

The top six in on-base percentage plus slugging percentage in their 40s were Bonds, Williams, Ty Cobb, Musial, Brian Downing and Willie Mays.

Can Jose Canseco unveil something about Cobb in his next Pulitzer Prize winner?


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