By Ernie Palladino
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The weekend proved it was much easier for Johnny Quinn than Alex Rodriguez to bust out of their personal toilets.
All Quinn had to do knock the door down, in the most literal sense of the phrase. The U.S. bobsledder, stuck in locked Olympic Village bathroom after taking a shower and minus one of those ever-present cell phones, applied shoulder to wood and created one more bill for the Sochi organizers that won’t be paid until the far-off future.
Bet that A-Rod wishes right now that exiting his own, figurative commode was that easy. He tried, banging away for six months at the door Major League Baseball dead-bolted with claims of innocence and witch hunts and lawsuits. An awful lot of money went from his pockets to the lawyers’. And forget about public trust.
In the end, Rodriguez simply had to stay locked in his little cubicle. He dropped the lawsuits against MLB and the Players Association, and will now cease slamming himself against the door and sit quietly until somebody opens it one year and about $22 million in lost salary from now.
The only remaining question is whether or not we hear an overt confession during A-Rod’s exile from the game he claims he so loves and respects. If the third baseman cares at all about returning to the game with any ounce of personal integrity in 2015, a full confession is his only exit strategy. He must come clean.
Therefore, whatever Rodriguez does before next spring training will take on an increased importance for him. In fact, this season of inactivity may become his most important season in some ways. He will not add to his impressive list of statistics. His chase for the home run record — all but unattainable now considering he will be 39 when baseball unlocks that door — is stalled.
But he needs to make peace with baseball, his followers, and himself. He must do this, if only to help clean up the mess he himself created. It’s part of the responsibility one takes when given the privilege of making mountains of money playing a kid’s game.
This is what has to happen going forward. Alex Rodriguez must hold a press conference. Doesn’t matter when. Just before Opening Day would be nice. Perhaps before or during the All-Star break. Maybe the last day of the regular season, simply because it would be crass to sully the postseason with it. At A-Rod’s convenience, or whenever his conscience gets the better of him, he needs to step in front of the microphones and reverse himself.
If indeed he did it, he needs to tell the world, “Yes, I bought drugs from Anthony Bosch. Yes, I used PEDs right up until the day the world crashed down upon my head.
“Yes, I’m a cheat.”
They say confession is good for the soul. At this moment, A-Rod has no soul. Admission of guilt will be the first step in restoring it.
This is not just for Rodriguez’s own good. All those people he fooled into thinking this was just a witch hunt, a plot by Bud Selig to turn the narrative of Rodriguez’s career into a cautionary tale for the ages, need to hear this, too. They have to see the error of their ways. They must learn Rodriguez’ true nature as a winking, “Gotcha” kind of manipulator so they won’t embarrass themselves when the next big liar comes along. And he will.
That’s just life.
Apologies are not necessary. We all know why A-Rod allegedly took the stuff; to gain an edge on the competition. It’s the same reason any athlete juices. We get that.
But admitting to the wrong is something different, and way more important than an apology. “I’m sorry” was always a lot easier to say than “I did it.” Rodriguez must take responsibility, own the sin. Stop with the poor little victim stuff.
He should think about that as he watches his former teammates go through their paces in Tampa starting Friday.
It’s the only way to break down the door MLB slammed shut on him. If he keeps slamming into it like he’s done the past six months, he’ll only succeed in hurting his shoulder.
He’s not a bobsledder, you know.
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