A-Fraud Friday Exodus: Not A Moment Too Soon

For so many years, the name Alex Rodriguez has brought people sadness, anger, sorrow. Joy? Not often.

But, for the first time in a long time, joy has been associated with the name Alex Rodriguez. Why? Because the ever-present reminder of the days of wide-spread cheating of Major League Baseball and of the fans…will be gone from the game. Joy surrounds the thought that maybe he will be gone forever.

The New York Yankees announced the disgraced shortstop/ball-slapper/pop-up-shouter/Cameron-Diaz-tonsilator/performance-enhancing-drug-pumper will play his last game on Friday. This will necessitate a change to the countdown clock appearing on this very site, one that has cheerily chipped away at the A-Fraud era’s remaining time since the site was created.

In the meantime, we’ll have to suffer through hours of Rodriguez looking misty-eyed, trying to engender sympathy, trying to make us think he’s really being honest with us…this time.

A-Roid’s last game will cap a career that started with so much promise. He was a fresh-faced, polite, too-good-to-be-true shortstop who was Cal Ripken Jr. 2.0 when he arrived in Seattle full time in 1996. He set the baseball world on fire. Power, speed, agility -he had it all. Of course, now we know, it probably was not all him even then. There’s no telling how much came from a bottle or syringe. Selena Roberts’ book says he started using in high school.

He could have been a Mariner for life. But he bolted Seattle -a perennial playoff team- and signed for an ungodly amount of money to play in Texas. Tellingly, Seattle won 116 games the year after Rodriguez left.

For the first time, we began to see who he really was – out more for the money and less for the chance to win. Financially, it was great for him, but lousy for Texas, who had no one to play with him. The cheating never equated to winning in Texas. The Rangers failed to win even 80 games in his time there. The Rangers won 89 the year he left.

Through those years and beyond, the facade that was Rodriguez became more and more evident through interviews and photo essays where he couldn’t stop himself from begging people to love him, while saying and doing things that made them realize how fake he was.

Rodriguez first tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in his final Texas season -2003 -with no penalty of course. MLB didn’t have a drug policy at the time.

He copped to the Texas drug use finally, after many denials. Then, according to the New York Times, an arrest of a Biogenisis employee in 2009 for bringing PED’s across the border from Canada, brought Rodriguez’ relationship to Biogenisis founder Anthony Bosch to light.

He hit .458 and .421 in two playoff series that put the Yankees into the World Series that year.

Four years later, MLB finally got him off the field. In 2013, a 211-game suspension.

Of course, he didn’t take the suspension quietly. He denied he had cheated, he filed lawsuits, he tried to throw his cousin under the bus much like Roger Clemens threw his wife under his bus, he claimed victim status-drawing the ire of actual victims everywhere, he tried to out-Lance-Armstrong Lance Armstrong, then he’d come out with a “I’ve made more mistakes than anybody” line…as if cheating is a mistake.

In the end, he succeeded at being a jerk, but failed at changing anyone’s mind in court that..he was a lying, cheating jerk. He missed a year and a half of playing time. Compared to 22 years, it doesn’t seem like long enough. Did anyone really miss him while he was gone?

Of course he couldn’t just fade away into the land of lost reputations. He came back and was average at best -all noise, no substance, just a reminder what a big fat liar he had been for all those years and a reminder that many of those cheers he received weren’t deserved.

In total, his stats, which I will never quote because they aren’t real, were inflated by the same needle that injects cheaters with whatever they’re shooting.

Anybody who’s ever trained for anything, competed at anything, or been cheated out of anything knows just how jacked up that is.

And why do real baseball fans care about these things? Because fair play allows us to know that what we are seeing is real, that the time we’ve invested wasn’t for nothing, and that the winner deserved it because he was better or luckier and not because he was the guy with the best drug dealer.

He failed to be a good guy and that we as fans can forgive. But, he failed the game. He failed the ideal of fairness. And I can’t forgive that.

But, that’s what A-Roid was and that’s why I hate him and everyone else from that era who put the results from 20 years of games in a bin somewhere that says, “Was any of this real?”

And that’s why I have joy this day that he will be gone…hopefully forever.

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