Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankee third baseman, has been suspended by Major League baseball for his role in the ever expanding Biogenesis scandal. Rodriguez is has been accused of attempting to recruit players to the now defunct clinic as well obstructing the investigation. Though he claims he has not used performance enhancing drugs since he became a Yankee, nor has he tested positive for any substance, he has been suspended for more than 200 games. He is currently appealing the suspension, and he made his 2013 debut last night in Chicago.
Alex Rodriguez is now a symbol, an effigy. He could have just walked away, taken his suspension and worked to get back on the field in two years but he chooses to stand and fight. Some may consider that a noble stand. A stalwart fight against an unjust penalty. A lone rebel soldier, clad in gray, standing on the field of the vanquished under a John Ford sky beaten and bloody fighting for a lost cause against an unbeatable leviathan of tyranny.
Of course this is a fantasy.
Only those most blinded by fandom, or Rodriguez himself will see it this way. Rather what I see, and I believe the rest of the world sees is a petulant child, holding his breath. He knows he has lost, he knows he will lose, he knows that this fight is one that simply will not end well for him. At best his final act of defiance will be a harmless distraction, at worst it will be a massive scene, but it does not matter – he will have the last word.
Of course the MLB has finally gotten its chemically enhanced white whale. Until A-Rod’s punishment Rafael Palmeiro was the largest name ever directly implicated in a steroid controversy. I remember those days well, I wish I could forget. I remember feeling ashamed and betrayed. I remember throwing away the Palmeiro shirt I had bought just weeks before. I remember the scene of Raffy in Toronto the boos so loud that he donned ear-plugs. Raffy then developed an ‘injury” and slinked away into the shadows never really to emerge again.
Rodriguez was lucky that the Yankees opened in Chicago last night. The White Sox are in last place and the crowds were thin. He was still greeted with a chorus of boos and slurs. What A-Rod and the Yankees must realize is this: how many people at that game last night came for the sole reason to boo Baseball’s greatest monster?
An effigy is a mannequin, a symbol, a crude scarecrow where a crowd can direct all of its hatred, loathing, disappointment, and fear. Alex Rodriguez is no longer a man, he is no longer a ballplayer, he is steroids. He is the over-privileged one-percent. He is the kid you knew in high school that had everything and threw it all away. In a world that is increasingly divided between “us” and “them” he is the biggest “them” there is…
In the open I called A-Rod an effigy; that is exactly what he is. A martyr is someone that dies for a cause, and in their passing, is celebrated even canonized. An effigy is a mannequin, a symbol, a crude scarecrow where a crowd can direct all of its hatred, loathing, disappointment, and fear. Alex Rodriguez is no longer a man, he is no longer a ballplayer, he is steroids. He is the over-privileged one-percent. He is the kid you knew in high school that had everything and threw it all away. In a world that is increasingly divided between “us” and “them” he is the biggest “them” there is.
With every at bat baseball fans everywhere will be allowed an opportunity to burn the effigy, to hurl rotten fruit at the petty criminal in the stocks, and pour all the disappointments of their day and shortcomings of their lives into Mr. Rodriguez. They will heckle him from the third base side, they will rain down a chorus of boos with every at bat. They will hound him with every step.
Alex Rodriguez has been a shell of himself for years now, I can only imagine how he will play now. I don’t see the organization standing up for him any time soon, the team is floundering and just barely in the race. The Yankees have been combing legal doctrine to find a way to divorce themselves from Rodriguez since April. They want him gone, Baseball wants him gone yet he remains.
His final act of defiance.
Two years away from the game is a lifetime. When his ban is up he will be 40 and a millionaire hundreds of times over. There will literally be next to nothing enticing him to come back and I don’t see it happening. At 40 years old, on the Yankees he will at best be a full-time DH, but I don’t see even that happening. New York will take that time to develop and move on. They will not hold a space for someone that the organization considered little more than a paid mercenary, someone who was never a “true Yankee.”
There have been many obituaries written on Mr. Rodriguez in the last 48 hours. This is just me piling on. I guess I thought I would get some perverse joy out of it, given the colors I choose to support, yet I sit here without any. There is no joy, no pity either, because Mr. Rodiguez is no longer a man. He is a symbol; an effigy, nothing more. And that is how he will be remembered.