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Yankees Pursuit of Alex Rodriguez is a Witch Hunt

Somehow A-Rod looks like the grownup in this situation.

Somehow A-Rod looks like the grownup in this situation.

If you’re wondering what the heck is going on between Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees—you’re not alone. Over the last five days there have been dozens of conflicting reports speculating about A-Rod’s uncertain future in pinstripes.

Which means at this point it’s all but impossible to separate opinion from fact, and fact from fiction. Not that it’s stopped me from reaching my own conclusion on the matter; and a startling one at that.

The conclusion being that the Yanks, particularly GM Brian Cashman, have been behaving abhorrently and no one—not even Alex Rodriguez—deserves to be publicly dismissed and degraded by an employer. Actually feeling compelled to side with A-Rod has been quite jarring to my system.

If I said I’m not a fan, it would be a massive understatement. If I said I’m his biggest critic, it wouldn’t properly reflect my antipathy for Rodriguez, the Yankees, or the way other major market teams in MLB emulate the way they do business. So let’s just say it came down to discerning the lesser of two evils and move on.

Obviously this wasn’t an entirely arbitrary conclusion. We may still be waiting for a lot of answers, but when you look at what’s already out there collectively, I think that it paints a pretty clear picture of what’s going on and who’s to blame. So before we get to that, let’s trudge through some of the mud has A-Rod buried up to his neck at the moment.

This looks unpleasant...

This looks unpleasant…

The one thing we know for sure is Rodriguez wants to get back on the field…like…yesterday. This week he expressed frustration with the organization’s repeated attempts to silence him and stall his return. He hoped to return to the field this week, but was stonewalled by team doctors who knows who signs their paychecks. Leaving him no option but to comply with their extended timetable.

He has refused to comment publicly on the matter, but on Thursday ESPN NY cited credible anonymous sources who confirmed Rodriguez has explicitly stated his distrust of the team’s medical staff. So dubious of the recent Grade 1 quad strain diagnosis he received from Yankees orthopedic surgeon Dr. Christopher Ahmad, that he solicited a second opinion from an outside specialist.

Rodriguez reached out Dr. Michael Gross, chief of orthopedics of Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, and asked him to review his most recent MRI. The doctor didn’t physically examine him, but was adamant there was no injury visible on the scan. Cashman was less than pleased about the news and responded with a three-pronged attack.

  1. Deny and dismiss. Said Cashman: “The MRI is the MRI. It’s fact. You can’t change the results on an MRI,” adding the whole discussion was just “extra noise.”
  2. Punitive action. Cashman made it clear that Rodriguez was not given permission to seek an outside opinion and made it clear the team planned to discipline him for his actions. This extends to Dr. Gross, who is now under investigation by MLB, which has expanded their Biogenesis investigation to include…well…just him.
  3. After flippantly dismissing the claims and urging the expansion of the Biogenesis investigation, Cashman essentially dared Rodriguez to seek a second opinion from an outside doctor, stating plainly: “It’s not something [they’re] afraid of.” Then again…he didn’t definitively give his permission…meaning he may just be baiting A-Rod so he has the opportunity to publicly humiliate him again next week.

The latest chapter in this unpleasant drama comes one month to the day after Rodriguez tweeted he had been given “the green light to play games again!” You may recall his benign display of enthusiasm was met with vitriol by his GM.

See this face? This is the face of an angry man.

See this face? This is the face of an angry man.

When informed of the tweet by ESPN NY, Cashman shot back with: “You know what? When the Yankees want to announce something, (we will). … Alex should just shut the f***up. That’s it. I’m going to call Alex now.” Not exactly a proportional response, but it sent a clear message.

And four days later Yankees president Randy Levine sent an entirely different message. In a phone conference with the media, he said: “We need Alex back … We are desperate for his right-handed power, and he’s better than any third baseman on this team right now.” Levine added: “It’s no secret that we’re struggling … [he’s] going to help us.”

It’s been four weeks—what’s changed? Well, nothing for the Yanks. They’re still hanging out in the basement of the AL East, drinking Mad Dog 20/20 with the Toronto Blue Jays. Sure they’re only seven games back, but nothing I’ve seen this seasons leads me to believe they have a prayer at coming back.

On the other hand, conditions for Rodriguez have certainly improved—health wise. He’s got plenty of other still issues looming large on the horizon, like the inevitable suspension stemming from the Biogenesis investigation, but why not let him play in the meantime?

That’s the real question here. We may have to wait on the “official” answer for awhile, but I think their motives are pretty transparent. On Thursday the NY Daily News reported that A-Rod’s teammates have “HAD ENOUGH” of this circus.

You know…the circus created, maintained, and routinely fueled by Cashman’s increasingly belligerence…

Enough of A-Rod. Apparently they can't get enough of sucking.

Enough of A-Rod. Apparently they can’t get enough of sucking.

The fact of the matter is that Cashman and the Yankees are hellbent on punishing A-Rod for their terrible decision to offer him that comically bloated 10-year contract in 2007, worth over $275 million. It’s not that I blame them for not wanting to pay out on the whole thing, but Rodriguez was 33-years-old when they signed him. What the hell did they expect?

Honestly though, there is no other explanation for what’s gone on here. Why this team has become frugal penny pinchers all of a sudden and drawn a line in the sand with A-Rod remains a mystery. Say what you will about his contract, but there’s no question that the eight-year deal, worth $180 million, awarded to the perennially useless Mark Teixeira in 2008 was money worse spent.

They are one of the few teams in American professional sports that, more or less, has license to print their own money. Which makes jockeying to get Rodriguez banned from baseball, just because they have buyer’s remorse, all the more inexcusably reprehensible. And seriously, I can’t stress how much I’ve hated this guy over the last decade or so.

It’s just that this strikes me as incredibly unfair. As far as I’m concerned, Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun received a 65-game suspension for what was (for all intents and purposes) his second offense. Well, this is (for all intents and purposes) A-Rod’s second offense. So why the hell is the possibility of a lifetime ban even being discussed?

Because the Yankees want it to be discussed, that’s why. MLB is modern day feudalism. There are a few franchises that are Lords of the Manor, while the rest are just occasionally competitive serfs that exist merely to create the illusion of competition. Thanks to generous revenue sharing, most teams in the league only exist because the Yankees allow them exist.

Well, I think the power has officially gone to their collective bald, fat head.

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