Thursday, June 27, 2013

Why I don't believe the "A-Rod is now really trying to retire on medical leave" story, and why you shouldn't, either

Sorry, folks, but I don't believe for a minute the bizarre story in today's sports media about how A-Rod is secretly trying to be declared unable to perform to play, and thus retire for medical reasons and get paid the full amount of his contract, and risk potentially going to jail for insurance fraud, all because he doesn't want to lose money from a possible suspension. This is the story Bill Madden and Teri Thompson are claiming in today's New York Daily News, and I just don't buy a word of it.

Here's what they write, and here are my reasons why I think this story is fake:
Alex Rodriguez has 114 million reasons for telling the world that he has the green light to play baseball games again.
According to sources close to the ongoing drama surrounding the star-crossed Yankee third baseman, Rodriguez and his advisers are so concerned that Major League Baseball’s drug posse is quickly closing in on him that they have racheted up the timetable for him to return to game action.
Once he’s back playing in rehab games, the sources say, he could then claim he is physically unable to perform because of the serious hip injury he is recovering from, “retire” from the game, and still collect the full amount of his salary — $114 million over the next five years.
“It’s all about him getting his money and not losing it to suspension,” one source close to the situation told the Daily News. “He knows he’s never going to the Hall of Fame. All that’s left for him is to make sure he gets his money — all of it.”
One way to do that is for Rodriguez to return to game action, find he can no longer perform up to his standards, then retire before he’s hit with a suspension without pay. A player who retires because he is physically unable to perform, even if he’s later suspended, would still get the full amount of his contract.....
Sources told the Daily News they believe MLB will try to suspend Rodriguez, no matter his status. If he is given a lifetime ban, he would not be able to re-enter the game in any capacity....

Depending on whether MLB can show that Rodriguez acquired performance-enhancing drugs from Bosch . . . or that he engaged in a repeated pattern of use . . . or that he lied to baseball investigators who have interviewed him several times over the years about PEDs, he could face a 50- or 100-game suspension, or even a lifetime ban.
First off, if you are going to write such an accusation, can't you even take the time to get the figures right? He has already been paid close to $14 million for this year's salary, making the amount still owed to him more like $100 million over the next four and a half years.

Second, look who is being "credited"  as sources for this:  "According to sources close to the ongoing drama surrounding the star-crossed Yankee third baseman." What does that mean? "Sources close to the ongoing drama" could mean that this was planted by Yankee officials engaging in wishful thinking, or for that matter, tabloid reporters looking for a headline or even the towel guy in the clubhouse. It certainly doesn't mean a source close to Rodriguez.

Third, you mean to tell me that A-Rod started Twitter and Instagram accounts to post upbeat reports on his recovery, and got in trouble with Yankee brass about having the nerve to say that the doctor who performed his hip surgery has cleared him to play, all for some secret motive not to play, but to retire? Really?

The article is saying that the true Machiavellian plot behind all this is that he wants to start playing in rehab games quickly, so that he can "claim he is physically unable to perform because of the serious hip injury he is recovering from." How does that even make any sense? Have these reporters completely lost the ability to do any critical thinking? Not only is Madden in the MLB Hall of Fame as a writer, but Thompson is the editor of the DN sports section -- they should know better. This story is as ridiculous as Madden's "scoop" from a few years ago that the Steinbrenner kids were selling the team. (On the other hand, I did think that today's Mike Lupica column on Cashman and A-Rod was actually reasonable. Go figure!)

At any rate, it seems to me that if A-Rod had some secret plot to get the contract completely paid for, he would be posting about how much pain he's in, how the rehab is going terribly, etc. Why in the world would he do just the opposite?

Fourth, Madden and Thompson have now ratched up the 100-game suspension speculation on A-Rod -- which was always a reach -- to the possibility of a lifetime ban. Really? What is your evidence, dudes? It is certainly not official MLB policy, which only allows a 50-game suspension for a first offense. As much as you guys may hate A-Rod as history's greatest monster, the chances of him getting a lifetime ban for this are non-existent.

Fifth, what part of a guaranteed contract confuses these folks? A-Rod is getting paid for the next four and a half years, regardless of what happens with his surgically repaired hip. Sure, he may or many not serve a 50-game suspension (note, not 100 games, not lifetime ban) for Biogenesis. But for the rest of it, he will get paid, wishful thinking by Yankee brass aside, who are the real ones who would benefit from A-Rod being declared unable to play (the insurance would pay for at least 80 percent of his contract.)

Finally, let's review what Madden and Thompson are claiming. They want you to think that Alex Rodriguez, who has wanted to be an MLB player since he was in grade school, who loves the game so much that he goes home each night and watches other teams play on his MLB page, is going to risk insurance fraud, and the possibility of going to jail, all because he might lose 50 games of salary out of the 720 or so games he could still play in over the course of his contract? He is going to walk away from the game that he loves forever, without any chance at redeeming himself on the field, all because he may get suspended? He is going to hand the Yankees a huge victory in having most of his contract paid for by insurance, and getting him off the team?

We heard a lot of the STFU acronym over the last few days. I will add my own profane acronym to my assessment to this story -- NFW - as in No F****** Way is this story true.

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