By Ernie Palladino
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The deeper the mess surrounding Alex Rodriguez goes, the worse it becomes.
Put in other terms: same garbage, different day.
Oh, it all comes in a new package, of course. That always changes with A-Rod because, let’s face it, you can’t keep dishing out the same malarkey over and over again and expect people to keep on believing. Ya gotta change it up a bit now and then.
On Thursday, he just skipped town, which was a first. He’s obfuscated before, ducked questions before, and answered probes in defiance of both his detractors and common sense. But never had he refused to show up at a legal hearing until he learned baseball’s commissioner, Bud Selig, was not going to pop by the witness stand to offer another bit in his supposed mound of evidence.
In fact, Selig’s absence made that alleged mountain look more like an ant hill, and that made Rodriguez’s actions all the more curious. Instead of hanging around his own arbitration hearing, he up and left for Miami as his legal army rested its case and prepared a post-decision march on federal court.
Meanwhile, the circus surrounding A-Rod opened for yet another run. This time, Rev. Ruben Diaz, the New York State senator, played ringleader, heading up a prayer vigil for the poor, abused third baseman. Given New York’s myriad problems with unemployment, Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, and implementation of the nation’s educational Core Curriculum, Diaz might have come up with a better way to use his time. But hey, a guy making $28 million a year needs all the prayers he can get.
Who better then to summon the Almighty than a preacher? Who better than a politician to ridiculously charge racism against the very team and very organization that made Rodriguez a mega-millionaire?
If it’s talk Rodriguez needs, Diaz undoubtedly has that in surplus.
But back to the heart of the issue. Rodriguez leaving like a spoiled child may not have hurt him legally, but if he expects to win this thing in the court of public opinion, he did absolutely the wrong thing. He needed to stick around and testify. He at least had to try to be as convincing as Wednesday when, during a WFAN radio interview, he proclaimed his innocence on PEDs since his admitted involvement from 2002-2003.
Perhaps then, he might have convinced the arbitrator that all had not been revealed in this closed-door hearing. Perhaps he would have said something brilliant to convince Fred Horowitz that he needed to hear from Selig himself. Rodriguez might have gotten that chance to look the man he accused of railroading him in the eye.
That’s only slightly more formal than the “cup-of-coffee”concept he offered over the air waves Wednesday. But still, it could have gotten the job done.
Instead, Rodriguez took off for Miami, and his lawyers closed up his defense.
And we are left with nothing from A-Rod, save for a bunch of empty whining and even emptier statements of innocence.
Sick of it all? We’re not even close to the end. Rodriguez and baseball may still be fighting by the time Opening Day rolls around. He may yet appear in that day’s lineup.
Only one thing is for sure — Rodriguez didn’t do himself any favors here. A player just doesn’t bail on his own arbitration hearing, no matter how poorly he believes he’s being treated.
But that’s A-Rod.
Same garbage, different day.
And as today dawns, it’s all packaged in a slightly different bag.
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