By Jason Keidel
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Bill Madden and WFAN host Mike Francesa recently had a robust debate over Alex Rodriguez, MLB, and their endless, venomous tango. It was a lovely tete-a-tete that well framed the growing divide over the disgraced third baseman.
Francesa's stance, with which he pounded Madden, was that MLB has a stalker's stance on steroids, HGH and the cocktail of consonants that abbreviate performance-enhancing drug malfeasance. Francesa thinks baseball is so voracious for a villain that they have projected their vitriol upon A-Rod. He is not alone in that view, and admits his program has been kinder to Rodriguez than most.
After a few platitudes about breaking the drug policy multiple times, Madden seemed to lose gas or gumption, or both. If it were a prizefight, Francesa won by late-round TKO.
On behalf of Madden and the masses who are not only tired of A-Rod's lies and cheating, but his lies about the lies and cheating, allow me to complete the argument...
Forget for a moment that he is the biggest star in a morality play -- on Broadway, no less -- and that he's made nearly a half-billion bucks on the backs of chemists. Celebrities always get more ink than their less-celebrated peers. Tons of NFL players bend their limbs during training camp, but when Tom Brady fell, twisted and clutched his platinum knee, every major sports media outlet in America led with the story.
Forget for a moment A-Rod's off-field dalliances, his frat-boy trysts and turns, from sunning in Central Park to smooching his reflection to hurling Derek Jeter under the bus in Esquire to alleged underground poker games to allegedly flying strippers around the world while still married.
He left plenty on the diamond for us to review with a jeweler's eye...
He lied to Katie Couric on national television, then whirled around with an anemic mea culpa, filled with abstract cousins and conduits and the pseudo-confession of taking "boli" for a few years in Texas.
Under that grim tent in Tampa, he told us to judge him from that day forward.
Okay, Alejandro, let's do that...
• MLB believes he ducked back under the law, teaming up with Tony Bosch and Biogenesis, back to the shady chemists he vowed to avoid.
• Then he had the stones to stand in front of kids, on behalf of the Taylor Hooton Foundation, lecturing them on the perils of PEDs while his veins allegedly oozed with them.
• Then he reportedly lured other players to the shuttered lab, and when he felt Johnny Law closing in, he reportedly tried to bribe witnesses and buy incriminating evidence.
• Then MLB, sick of his semantic games, dropped the guillotine on A-Rod this month, suspending him for 211 games, which he is currently appealing.
That alone -- to borrow from Rex Ryan's lexicon -- is brutal enough. But he wasn't done. He also allegedly dropped a dime on Francisco Cervelli, his own teammate.
His own teammate...
David Cornwell, a lawyer who represents Mr. Rodriguez, vehemently denies the charge, saying this was MLB's way of driving a wedge between our beloved A-Rod and the sport he adores.
Whom do you believe? "60 Minutes," the emblem of honest TV reportage? Or a pathological fabricator like Rodriguez?
A-Rod's certified apologists -- and it becomes harder to renew your membership each year -- will parse the report from "60 Minutes," saying, "C'mon, man! They said his inner circle bought those papers. A-Rod didn't even know about it, and what not."
And what about Cervelli?
"That was an accident, dude."
And leaking them to the press?
"They said leak, dude. Don't you get leaks? Like a faucet, and stuff."
Madden said his sources told him that A-Rod's representatives offered MLB a deal: ban him for 100 games and then he will retire. Francesa said A-Rod's "people" deny that. Whom do you believe? An esteemed reporter from a reputable newspaper or A-Rod's people?
A-Rod's bottom always has trap doors. He was booed out of the building when he made his 2013 debut against the White Sox and then told reporters how great Chicago fans were.
He was jeered lustily before his first at-bat in the Bronx, and then told reporters he had to hold back his tears of gratitude.
On August 2, he told a village of reporters that we need to get PEDs out of baseball, knowing damn well he was about to get whacked for using them.
A-Rod has devolved from diabolical to delusional. He's not a master criminal anymore because he's just too dumb to be taken seriously.
I wrote the definitive guidebook to the A-Rod Apologist. They have many characteristics, but share one important neurosis. Deflection. It's never A-Rod's fault. They point to the fact that he never failed a drug test -- even though the other 12 players on the Biogenesis list didn't fail one, either.
They declare that this is a glorified witch hunt, that A-Rod is paying for his predecessors' sins, ignoring the fact that he cheated repeatedly, lied about it and then allegedly tried to buy the evidence against him. Then he reportedly ratted out his teammate.
Even by A-Rod's demonic standards, allegedly leaking the Cervelli papers to the press is hideous. How are the Yankees, who take the field with A-Rod, supposed to look at him? It's bad enough he plays and bails on them after the game, leaving his peers holding the bag before the media. Now they don't even know if he will knife them in the back, too.
A-Rod is reduced to the somber cheers of his most ardent apologists, a shrinking army of misguided souls who just can"t admit their hero is hopelessly stained. It's fitting that he wears No. 13 and bears the bad karma that comes with it.
The cliche tells us that the cover-up is worse than the crime. With Rodriguez, the cover-up has become criminal, a labyrinth of semantic subterfuge and backstabbing and a shrinking inner sanctum that seems to have everything but friends. It seems the only ones willing to hang with A-Rod are on his payroll.
A-Rod makes it impossible for anyone but his lawyers to defend him. And they do so because he pays them. What's your excuse?
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