No doubt about it folks. The cat’s out of the bag now. Sports Illustrated broke the story Saturday reporting Alex Rodriguez, third baseman for the New York Yankees, tested positive for steroid use back in 2003 when Alex Rodriguez was with a different organization. Nice timing. Pitchers and catchers report next week to begin spring training, and it’s going to be a media feeding frenzy. While Alex Rodriguez has some issues to face, the Yankees stand to be considerable losers out of this ordeal.
Or shall we say, deal. Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees signed a big contract in December 2007. The agreement calls for a 10-year, 275 million deal, and Rodriguez is signed through age 42. This steroid issue, unfortunately, will always linger with Alex, and the Yankees are only in the second year of the new contract. It’s disheartening because the Yankees, prior to agreeing to the long-term deal, had envisions of him eventually breaking the all-time home run record currently held by Barry Bonds. It is Rodriguez who is touted to be baseball’s home run savior, like a John Wayne riding in on his horse. That was the idea.
Don’t get me wrong, Rodriguez may eventually break Bonds’s home run record, but will it have the same meaning? The court of pubic opinion will probably not weigh favorably, which trickles down to the Yankees, who just got their John Wayne dreams shattered.
The locker room will be faced with a firm dose of distraction. The words distraction and locker room never go well together in the same sentence. The media will be heading to Legends Field, the spring training complex for the Yankees, which is located in Tampa, Florida, in the upcoming weeks. There will be questions posed to teammates and comments made on and off the record. The team wants to concentrate on winning, as they missed the playoffs for the first time in 13 years after the 2008 season. They want to get off to a strong start and make it back to the postseason. This distraction has the potential to slow them a bit, and we’ll see how this distraction affects Rodriguez’s performance personally.
The thunder is stolen, too. The Yankees enter their new stadium in 2009. The big story should be the team’s first season, in what promises to be in a beautiful ballpark. The Yankees also signed three big free agents this winter: Mark Teixeira to take over first base and starting pitchers A.J. Burnett and C.C. Sabathia. While the ballpark and these individuals should bring quality story lines, they may be overshadowed by Rodriguez’s story. The Yankees are paying out a lot of big dollars this season, and they want good publicity surrounding these incoming players and their brand new stadium. That was the idea, too.
The Yankees aren’t strangers to some of their players involved with steroid use. Jason Giambi has admitted to steroid use. He will not be back with the team this year. Andy Pettitte, who signed a one-year deal with the Yankees in 2009, has admitted to past use of HGH (human growth hormone). The Roger Clemens probe on this issue is ongoing.
Yes, the Yankees bought a distraction heading into the 2009 season, and that wasn’t part of the larger plan. It never is.