By Jason Keidel
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Just when you drop the A-Rod ball, it bounces back up.
The most elastic scandal in sports history, A-Rod's trysts and turns seem to reach its nadir every week - before sinking deeper into infamy.
The latest fare from the cornered third baseman is a conspiracy theory, which is the last sign of surrender.
Most people we admire, from players to parents, hammer us with the maxim that it's not how we handle victory but rather defeat that defines us. If that is indeed the ultimate emotional metric, Alex Rodriguez is the ultimate failure.
A-Rod's most ardent advocates argued that A-Rod's historic, 211-game suspension was exorbitant. And if all he did were take PEDs, they would be absolutely right. There is a firm policy on such matters, with rigid math, a sliding scale of punishment depending on the offense.
But Alex Rodriguez, on and off the diamond, has a most pliable view of the rules. He's not the first player to take PEDs. He's not the first player to lie about it.
But he is the progenitor of this clumsy, perilous PR attack on his peers and his employer, a toxic legal spray that splashes largely on himself.
Reports say MLB says has evidence that A-Rod recruited other players to Tony Bosch, and then when he was smoked out, bribed witnesses and bought incriminating evidence. Then, we thought he hit bottom when his "people" leaked evidence incriminating Ryan Braun.
But it's never that simple for the loneliest man in sports. He allegedly dropped a dime on Francisco Cervelli, his own teammate.
But not even that's enough. Now A-Rod asserts that the Yankees, the team that trades for him, pays for him, and extended his historically opulent contract, is now colluding with doctors to end his career.
Randy Levine is at the end of his latest legal spear. One of A-Rod's growing army of lawyers now says that Levine distorted A-Rod's medical records, and withheld a baseball-sized hole in his hip. The lawyer also says Levine told the very surgeon who sliced A-Rod that he never wanted to see number 13 in a Yankee uniform again. It's the kind of conspiracy that would make Mulder and Scully blush.
Why did it take Mr. Rodriguez nearly a year to decide he was duped and file a grievance?
Because it never happened, perhaps?
This is just more subterfuge, deflecting from yet another damning report, which seem to pop up like weeds around his spiraling life.
Yet another gaffe, this time reported by "Outside the Lines," suggesting that A-Rod funneled fifty grand to Tony Bosch's attorney to cover his chemist's legal fees. This is A-Rod's newfound, newfangled, mangled approach to battle. Accuse the accuser and then pretend the next crime wasn't committed.
A-Rod had the stones to call Ryan Dempster "unprofessional" for drilling him during last night's game.
So let's be clear. It's okay to do steroids, lie about it on national television, kinda admit it later, then tell us to judge you from then on, then do more steroids, then lecture kids on PEDs while you're still doing them. But it's unprofessional to throw at a batter.
And it's not unprofessional to slap the ball out of a player's glove while he tags you (See: 2004 ALCS). It's not unprofessional to shriek while a Toronto shortstop snags a pop up a few feet away. With A-Rod and his apologists it's always about denial, deflection, and delusion.
In the end Randy Levine makes the most salient point of all. After all the pseudo-indignity and specious counterattacks, Alex Rodriguez has thus far ducked the central question in this drama.
Did you take performance-enhancing drugs?
A-Rod is so busy pointing fingers at foes he forgets that he's his own worst enemy. If he didn't throw down with Dr. Galea, Tony Bosch, etc., we wouldn't be writing redundantly about his crimes, misdemeanors, and misleading career.
Randy Levine isn't the problem. Neither is Bud Selig. Nor is the conga line of chemists who used A-rod as their personal pin cushion. Alex Rodriguez is the problem.
His instincts are always woefully wrong. He attacks when he should surrender. He cajoles when he should concede. Had he shown a modicum of modesty during any part of this endless odyssey, he would surely have fared better, on the diamond, off the diamond, and in his life.
A-Rod, who can only resort to hiring and firing lawyers, filing false reports, accusations, and increasing isolation. is reduced to the hubris of the defeated. The hallmark of most guilty men is to see ghosts around every corner, a world closing in around you .
He's becoming that crazy pigeon lady in Central Park, wrapped in rags, walking like a mummy, coated in birds while he sprays bread crumbs on the street, mumbling about people coming to get him.
In truth, A-Rod got himself a long time ago. We can't say when he passed the point of no return, but it's so far behind him that not even he can remember. He sees dead people, and he knows he's about to join them.
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