In a move that was either shrewd or just common sense, depending on your view of the situation, New York Yankee’s banned 3rd baseman Alex Rodriguez dropped his last active lawsuit last Thursday night. It was the one remaining legal connection between A Rod and the Biogenesis scandal after the end of his arbitration hearing in October of 2013, and his two other dropped lawsuits against Major League baseball and commissioner Bud Selig and the MLB Player’s Association. According to Rodriguez’s spokesman, the move was made by A Rod so he could focus on his return to Yankee’s baseball, playing out the rest of his contract after his suspension ends for the very same team he was recently suing.
While the world may never have all the answers to the many questions this latest action by A Rod brings up, there is one question that can (and likely will) be answered in front of the world as the former sports superstar takes to the field in 2015: Will the aging superstar be able to play clean? At one time, he was arguably one of the best baseball players out there, despite his penchant for making both fans and foes dislike him on a personal level. However, as the years went by, his image became increasingly tarnished as whispers of performance enhancing drug use made the rounds, combined with speculation that the aging star wouldn’t be able to keep playing at the same elite level as his body began to betray him. Then the Biogenesis scandal hit, and rather than come out of it with the public’s sympathy, A Rod garnered the lion’s share of ridicule and disbelief as he tried desperately to deny any wrongdoing.
The final dropped lawsuit was one Rodriguez brought against his own team doctor, Christopher Ahmad, in October of 2013, claiming he had committed medical malpractice when he failed to correctly diagnose A Rod’s hip injury in 2012 during that year’s playoffs. Rodriguez has two hip surgeries in his past, and when he plays in 2015, he’ll be the big 4-0. For a player who seemed determined to achieve elite status at any cost, this may be a very scary scenario, since he now has to play without the performance enhancers he has allegedly relied on for much of his career. Combined with the reality that he has not trained or played professionally for a while, the season could prove to be a triumphant redemption, or a disaster in the making.
It seems, publicly at least, that A Rod is taking his last hurrah seriously. He dropped the remaining lawsuits to focus fully on preparing for his return to the game, and plans to train by playing in simulated games and by working with former players. His contract actually has three years left on it, so a comeback would definitely allow his to play out the end of his career in grand style. It would make a great story, and for some speculators, that’s all it is. There is talk of the dropped lawsuit and alleged preparation for next season to actually be a shred business move. If A Rod finishes his contract, he stands to receive a $61 million salary. If he goes to spring training in 2015 and is deemed unfit to play, he can still be put on the “physically unable to perform” list and collect his entire salary. So it seems whether he plays or doesn’t, he’ll still come out a financial winner.
All that remains to be seen is which Alex Rodriguez will show up for spring training: the misunderstood fighter who will face down the odds and emerge as one of baseball’s true comeback tales? Or the desperately calculating drug user who was not afraid to take part in shady back room deals and associate with unsavory characters to keep the steroids, growth hormones, and personalized drug cocktails that were keeping his career alive? Either way, it should be a fitting ending for a player who has lived his career in the glare of the spotlight.