When news came down that Alex Rodriquez would probably miss half of
next season because of hip surgery, I couldn't help but think of a scene from
"Breaking Away", the 1979 hit movie about cycling, college, and trying to
find one's self.
In the scene, four young men are pushing a shiny, red Corvette back to the
used car dealership they had purchased it from. On the outside, the Corvette
looked sleek, dynamic, and powerful. Kind of like the Yankees third baseman.
However, there was serious damage under the hood and the engine had nothing
left. That's a lot like A-Rod, too.
As the car was being wheeled in, Ray Stoller, the owner of the dealership, tries
to stop the men from bringing the car back onto his lot. The man who purchased
the car says, "All I want is a refund." Stoller replies with a response that became
an instant classic. "Refund?! Refund?! Refund?!" The scene then cuts to him
in bed screaming the same thing. "Refund?! Refund"!
I couldn't help but wonder if the front-office brass and the owners of the New York
Yankees wanted to scream the same thing to Scott Boras, the super agent for A-Rod,
after they discovered their once gleaming, high-powered machine, has turned into
I realize there are no refunds in baseball and most of the $114 million left on the
10-year, $275 million dollar extension A-Rod signed after the 2007 season is insured,
but if you're Hal and Hank Steinbrenner and GM Brian Cashman, you have to be
feeling like those guys who were pushing the red Corvette back into the lot after
it conked out.
Like the car, A-Rod has broken down. Oh, sure, he still looks good on the outside,
but the years of steroid use and all the wear and tear that comes with trying to play
a 162-game season, has gotten the best of him. He'll be 38 in July, about the same
time he's scheduled to come back from hip surgery, but good lord, what can the
Yankees expect from a player who has fallen apart right in front of our eyes?
Cashman and company can say all the right things, but A-Rod is a physical, and
after seeing him in the post-season last year, some might say a psychological mess, too.
When A-Rod goes on the disabled list to start the year, it will mark the sixth time
he's been DL-ed in the last six years because of a litany of injuries. They include:
*A strained quadriceps in 2008
*Hip surgery in 2009
*Strained calf in 2010
*Knee surgery in 2011
*Broken hand in 2012
Now, A-Rod will have to comeback for his second hip surgery in almost four years.
Two things we know. One, he's not a young kid anymore. And two, players no longer
get better in their late 30's as we saw Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens and countless
others did, thanks to a little help from the PED's.
I'd like to say steroids are out of the game and A-Rod won't take the chance of using
them to speed up his recovery, but after seeing Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon get
caught using them, nothing's out of the question.
What isn't a question, is the stupidity of the Steinbrenner's for giving A-Rod a whopping
10-year, $275 million extension at the age of 33. Tom Hicks was dumb for giving
A-Rod the first 10-year, $275 million deal to sign with the Texas Rangers, the Yankees
were even dumber for playing copycat.
Perhaps, they had dollar signs in their eyes thinking A-Rod was going to smash
Barry Bonds' all-time home run record as a Yankee. Perhaps, they thought it was
going to put people in the seats and help record phenomenal ratings. Perhaps, they
thought the merchandise was going to fly off the shelves as A-Rod closed in on 762.
A-Rod will be lucky if he reaches 700 at the rate he's going. He and the Steinbrenner's can
forget about a Yankee breaking the record.
And just like "Breaking Away", I'm thinking they'd still like to have a refund.