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By The Numbers: Amid Super Bowl Hoopla, Tanaka And A-Rod Still Make Headlines

Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

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By Father Gabe Costa
» More Columns

As we approach Super Bowl XLVIII, which will be played in the shadow of New York City, the number of expected interviews, articles and stories about this event is approaching a limiting saturation point. The names of Peyton Manning, Richard Sherman, et al, are blared on televisions and radios and appear in virtually every form of printed media.

It seems that if one week separating the two conference championship games is too short, then maybe — just maybe — two weeks are a tad too long. The stories are already getting stale, and the players must be getting a bit antsy.

And there is an awful lot of attention being given to the weather for Super Bowl Sunday.

Baseball seems far away; this latest snowstorm and recent blasts of frigid air certainly remind us that it will be a while before we hear “Batter up!”

And yet, two names have not really gone away — especially during these past few weeks leading up the Super Bowl. Of course, I’m talking about Masahiro Tanaka and Alex Rodriguez.

Tanaka signed a seven-year, $155 million deal with the Yankees on Wednesday. Interest in the 25-year old Japanese hurler was shown by a number of clubs, yet Tanaka chose the Yankees in order “to win the World Series.”

Not only has the anticipated (now realized) magnitude of the contract been a catalyst for much Hot Stove debate, but the fact that Tanaka has never really faced our Major League hitters has raised questions in some circles. Also, some pitching practices in Japan — such as frequency of starts and the importance of counting pitches — differ from the way American pitchers are managed.

We’ll see. But Yankee fans are happy and hopeful. Perhaps Tanaka will bring the Bombers their 28th title.

A-Rod, of course, is an old story. The following bullet points give but a partial list of the complexity of his ongoing situation:

Legal Issues: Past, Present and Future – Will there be a resolution … ever?
Legal Issues: Costs – Even A-Rod doesn’t have an infinite amount of money.
Medical Issues: Past, Present and Future – Only he knows the truth.
Possible Participation In Spring Training: Will he be welcomed by his teammates and the fans?
Suspension: How many games (if any)?
Strained Relationship With MLB Players Association: This can never be a positive factor.
Impact On Career Totals: He already has a lifetime batting average under .300. Will he pass Willie Mays (660), Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds (762) in career home runs?
Credibility Regarding His Records: Will he ever be enshrined into the Hall of Fame?

The bottom line is, like all of us, A-Rod has to live with himself. There is no doubt that he loves the game. And, for what it’s worth, every time I have seen him play he hustles.

I just hope he finds peace, if he has not already found it.

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