Dear Alex Rodriguez,
Or should I address you as "A-Rod?" Yeah, that sounds good. Certainly easier to type, anyway.
At any rate, I hear you're on the comeback trail. It's been almost four full months since you had surgery on your left hip, and the word on Monday from Adam Berry of MLB.com was that you can finally participate in some baseball activities.
The word after your surgery was that there was a chance you could return to the New York Yankees around the All-Star break. That sounded optimistic at first, but now it sounds about right. In fact, it sounds like you may even be back on the field before Derek Jeter.
But you're not too sure, are you?
"I really hope so. That's as specific as I'll get," you said when asked if you were positive you were even going to return at all this season. I took that to mean you don't want to make any promises, that you don't want to shut the door on the possibility of you not returning. You know, just in case.
And to that, I say this: Good. Here's hoping.
Frankly, I'd rather not see you on the diamond this year, A-Rod. Or ever again, for that matter.
But don't crumple this letter up just yet. You'll find that hard to do seeing as how you're reading it on a computer monitor, and I want you to know that I'm not here to yell at you. I'm not one of these guys:
No, I just want to talk, and what I want to talk about is how much better off the Yankees and Major League Baseball as a whole would be without you.
It's not that I don't like you, A-Rod. Though I should state, just for the record, that I don't.
No offense, but you've become quite the hard player to like ever since you left the Seattle Mariners all those years ago. You continued to be a damn good player for years, but you lost the charisma you once had.
You came to exude a selfish personality, and I distinctly remember giving up on you when you tried to hijack the baseball headlines from the World Series when you opted out of your contract in 2007. It may have been Scott Boras who pushed the button, but he worked for you, A-Rod. That incident was on you, and it made you look like the biggest diva in the sport.
It's been almost six years since then, but I'll be damned if the shoe doesn't still fit.
I realize that has a lot to do with the media, as the writers and talking heads still paint you as a diva and as a 37-year-old problem child. But while I'm honestly not sure what you could have done, the fact is that you haven't given them enough reasons to paint you as anything else. You helped them make a character out of you, and that character has stuck.
And there's my issue with you coming back, A-Rod. When you return, that character is going to return and ruin everything.
Consider your Yankees. I assume you've been paying attention, but I'll fill you in just in case.
While you, Jeter, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira have been sitting out these first few weeks of the season, the Yankees have played like nobody told them their roster is sorely lacking in star power. They're 18-12 and are one of only five teams in the majors that have hit 40 homers. They're still playing like the Yankees.
That they shouldn't be playing like the Yankees is what's so cool about it. With so many stand-ins performing well, the 2013 Yanks have a kind of scrappy, "in your face" underdog thing going for them. It's a nice change of pace from the whole pompous act the Yankees usually have going.
As long as the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles continue to play well, the Yankees have a chance to retain their scrappy vibe even after Granderson, Teixeira and Jeter return. Instead of a team of spare parts attempting to chase down an AL East title, they'd be a team of spare parts and past-their-prime old guys attempting to chase down an AL East title. Not quite the same, but still a cool story.
But things will be different if you return, A-Rod. And not in a good way.
No matter what you do, you'll always be a symbol of all that's wrong with the Yankees at any given moment. When you're playing well and the Yankees are playing well, you're a symbol of what wonders their vast amounts of money can reap. When you're not playing well and they're not playing well, you're a symbol of the downfall of the Yankees empire.
That's what you were the last time you were on the field, of course. Your Yankees couldn't hit a lick in the postseason, and the media basically made it out to be all your fault. Your 3-for-25 showing was portrayed as the problem rather than a problem.
It was bogus, but this is how it is. You're bigger than the Yankees, all too often irritatingly so.
If you were to retire, the Yankees certainly wouldn't mind being rid of your contract. The four years and $86 million remaining on it would be forfeited if you were to walk away, which would greatly aid the Yankees' payroll quest.
I can guarantee you the Yankees also wouldn't mind being rid of their resident negative-attention magnet. They would be allowed to be a baseball team again, rather than a soap opera with you as the star.
The fans would dig that, too. Like all other fans, Yankees fans want good baseball first, and drama a distant second.
But you're not just a negative-attention magnet for the Yankees, A-Rod. You're also a negative-attention magnet for Major League Baseball, as you well know.
If you were to retire, Commissioner Bud Selig and the rest of the league office would miss you like a marathoner misses a rock in his shoe, for you're a walking, talking reminder that the league still might not be past an era that it really, really wants to be past.
You're one of the key faces of the Steroid Era, A-Rod. That's a role you signed up for the moment you made your big admission to Peter Gammons in 2009.
You'll recall that you made this admission less than two years after you had sworn to Katie Couric that you had never used PEDs or ever even felt the need to use PEDs.
As soon as you admitted that you actually had, you may as well have been telling everyone, "Whatever you do, never trust me."
This, of course, is relevant to more recent events.
Just last month, the New York Times reported that you tried to buy the Biogenesis documents to keep them out of Major League Baseball's hands. According to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, you've denied that too.
You're asking us to trust you with these denials, A-Rod. But shoot, why should we? You surrendered your right to the benefit of the doubt four years ago when you sat down to talk with Gammons.
Major League Baseball would leave you alone if you were to walk away. The league can't punish a retired player, and there's no precedent for barring somebody from the Hall of Fame—not that your chances to get in are particularly good, if we're being honest, based on PED-related controversy.
The fans would leave you alone too. There would be grumbling every time you popped up in the public eye, as there is with Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens now, but that's nothing compared to the grumbling that would be going on every day if you were to suit up again.
Basically, if you were to go away, the baseball landscape would be much calmer. Serene, even.
Kinda like it is right now. Your time away from the game this season has provided fans with a sneak peek at what life after A-Rod is going to be like. It feels like that window of time between Bonds' and Clemens' last games in 2007 and your big bean-spilling in 2009.
I'm enjoying it, and I'd prefer not to wait until after the final year of your contract in 2017 for this to become the status quo.
So please. Just go. Now.
And don't come back.
If you want to talk baseball, hit me up on Twitter.
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