It’s likely a preview of how the 38-year-old Rodriguez — once arguably the greatest player of his generation and a sure Hall of Famer — will end his career. Major League Baseball determined he’d not only used numerous forms of the drugs over multiple years, but he’d also tried to obstruct the league’s investigation into their use.
Rodriguez was one of 13 players charged with using the drugs. (As baseball scandals go, it beats the Chicago “Black Sox,” eight players banned from baseball for throwing the 1919 World Series.) A dozen of them were suspended for 50 games — including Detroit Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta and Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, whose teams have World Series hopes.
MLB suspended Rodriguez for 211 games — basically the entire 2014 season. League rules permit him to keep playing while his case is under appeal, a process that probably will take him through this season.
It’s a sad, sordid story, and one in sharp contrast with the exhilarating play this season of the Atlanta Braves, who as of this writing had won 12 games in a row.
The perpetually troubled Rodriguez had the contract and the stats to justify the hopes riding him.
His 10-year contract, through 2017, is the sport’s richest ever: $275 million. He was named MVP three times and an All-Star 14. In 2007, at age 32, he became the youngest player ever to hit 500 home runs. Three years later, he did the same in reaching 600. He has 647 home runs.
The fans will turn out for the games. These are the Yankees, after all. When they see No. 13 take the field at third base — with his case on appeal, each game might be his last — they will see a player of age-diminished skills, which is only natural, and vastly diminished reputation, which is entirely his doing. The cruelest wounds are the self-inflicted.