A-Rod, Attorney Dragging Yankees Into a Cesspool
Boston — Be honest: Do you really think the New York Yankees can sustain an 11th-hour run for the wild card with Alex Rodriguez waging nuclear war with the franchise? Seriously?
The 6-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Saturday was costly, but still just a ripple compared to the charges A-Rod’s new lawyer levied at the front office.
This awful, unending smear campaign has officially submerged into the cesspool — it’s nothing short of toxic. Joe Tacopina, a high-profile attorney retained by A-Rod only two weeks ago, told The New York Times the Yankees withheld the results of an MRI test that showed A-Rod had a torn hip labrum last October.
Despite the injury, the team nevertheless sent Rodriguez onto the field during the playoffs in order to destroy his career, Tacopina said: “They rolled him out there like an invalid and made him look like he was finished as a ballplayer.”
Additionally, the lawyer said team president Randy Levine told Dr. Bryan Kelly, who operated on A-Rod in January, “I don’t ever want to see him again on the field.”
“It sent chills down Alex’s spine,” Tacopina said, as the doctor told the slugger, “it wasn’t a joke.”
Levine denied those charges as “specious, reckless and untrue” and, in a telephone conversation with The Record, said if Rodriguez was dissatisfied with the medical treatment he’s received, “he should have filed a grievance” with the union.
Otherwise, Levine said, “He should put up or shut up. Alex is trying to distract from the only relevant question in this matter: Did he or did he not use (performance-enhancing drugs)?”
Rodriguez, curiously, refused to authenticate Tacopina’s charges, telling reporters after Saturday’s game, “I have to read the story first.” Clearly, the lawyer was speaking on his client’s behalf, but Rodriguez was vague enough to leave several key questions unanswered.
First, is he accusing Joe Girardi of being part of last October’s conspiracy? The manager said he had no idea A-Rod was injured until Game 3 of the American League Division Series, and said risking a player’s health “would break my heart. It’s not who I am.”
Rodriguez said he has a “great” relationship with Girardi, so why wouldn’t he take the manager off the hook? It’s also unclear whether A-Rod actually heard Kelly repeat Levine’s instructions about permanently keeping Rodriguez from ever playing again. He said, “Those are questions you have to ask those people, because I wasn’t in that conversation.”
Rodriguez is overlooking the fact that he, in fact, was in that conversation: He heard those very words from Kelly. How else would Tacopina have known about them?
The bigger issue here is why Rodriguez and his volatile lawyer are choosing to ratchet up the level of hostility with the Yankees, and Levine in particular. Tacopina even invoked George Steinbrenner’s memory, saying the Boss would be “horrified” by the current “thug culture.”
Surely A-Rod knows the overheated rhetoric will eventually become a cancer to the Yankees, who were down — entering Sunday night — to their final 40 games with an 8½-game deficit in the East, 6 in the wild-card chase. It’s not insurmountable, but the calendar is rapidly becoming an enemy. If the Yankees have any chance of a near-miracle run, they need some old-school currency in the clubhouse, starting with unity and focus.
But Hiroki Kuroda, the Yankees’ best pitcher this year, was ominously lit up by the Sox, allowing 11 hits and five runs (three earned) in just 5 2∕ 3 innings. You can say Kuroda merely succumbed to the law of averages, but don’t underestimate the corrosive effect of Rodriguez’s steel-cage match with his bosses.
Unless he’s got evidence to back them up, the charges A-Rod is levying against the Yankees are unconscionable. If he’s willing to blow up the organization (and the pennant race) just to make Levine look bad, Rodriguez will be remembered as the greatest saboteur the Yankees have ever allowed in their midst.
Don’t forget, this is supposed to be a battle over PEDs, whether Rodriguez violated the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement by using chemicals supplied by Anthony Bosch. Anything else — including the Yankees’ threats and the conduct of the team’s medical staff — can be remedied by a grievance filed by the union.
If Tacopina is telling the truth, Rodriguez has a heck of a case, possibly one for the courts and not just an arbitrator. Levine said he will release every medical document, every email and transcripts of every conference call related to the charges to prove Tacopina is lying. We’ll see. But none of this is related to Rodriguez’s drug use or the 211-game suspension handed down by commissioner Bud Selig.
In that sense, Levine is right. He has cause to ask why Rodriguez is raising secondary issues when he refuses to address his relationship with Bosch. Did A-Rod cheat or not over a three-year period beginning in 2009? And if he did, what is the proper punishment?
One last, nagging curiosity: Rodriguez has repeatedly said he’d tell his side of the story “when the time is right.” He made that promise again this weekend. Yet, A-Rod attorney’s unloaded on the Yankees in a way that makes you wonder about his priorities. Is Rodriguez looking to beat the Red Sox or the Yankees? Big difference.