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The two biggest lightning rods in Major League Baseball managed to grab the headlines together on Thursday in what may go down as one of the most infamous days in baseball history.
This won’t be the only time Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds cross paths in the media over the next 10 years. The two are on a collision course set in motion for some time and when it happens again, it may save both of their public images.
Bonds was indicted on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to a grand jury. A-Rod signed yet another benchmark contract in the history of sports, agreeing in principle to a 10-year contract with the New York Yankees estimated at $275 million.
Every major news outlet in the country immediately picked up both stories.
No one can claim to be in the dark about Bonds and the cloud of suspicion hanging over him. Whether it’s his sudden gargantuan frame or his association with all-things steroids, the all-time home run leader is surrounded by speculation from the media and the public.
Now Bonds will face the possibility of jail time because the prosecution claims to have hard evidence of his steroid use.
Since the day A-Rod inked his $252 million contract with the Texas Rangers prior to the 2001 season, he’s had a target on his back. Rodriguez, even in his home park, is resented by fans and held to impossible expectations because of the number in the back of everyone’s mind: $252 million.
A-Rod is no victim in all of this. His poor public image stems from a robotic personality and lack of production in the post season since coming to the Yankees in 2004.
You could say the same thing about Bonds. Bonds did put up in the Giants’ 2002 trip to the World Series, but comes across as an egotistical troll under the bridge to the world.
Bonds has denied any involvement with steroids since the day allegations started flying his way. His favorite trick is to turn press conferences into segments resembling an episode of “Dr. Phil.”
Instead of answering questions and offering evidence opposing the allegations, Bonds instead hides behind one of his children or righteously redirects scorn back at the media.
Touché, Mr. Bonds. I can’t wait see you try that in front of a judge.
A-Rod’s most recent fiasco is more forgivable, but still makes you scratch your head.
He opted-out of the three years remaining on his contract and left a five-year, $150 million extension with the Yankees on the table to become a free agent. A-Rod did this under the advice of his agent Scott Boras, who released the information in the middle of the clinching game of the World Series.
If A-Rod had fired his agent at this point, The Yankees would have held a ticker-tape parade in his honor and given him and even richer contact than he got.
Instead, he tested the market and no team was going to offer him the 10-year, $350 million offer Boras was fishing for. A-Rod realized the Yankees were the only sure-fire suitors on the market and he blew it. He, and or his agent, thought he was bigger than the game.
A-Rod came crawling back to the Yankees on his knees this week with statements of “I want to be a Yankee.” He can make these claims all he wants, but how can anyone believe him while the same agent is still working for him?
The Steinbrenner family is now backing off their original platform to not re-sign him, and the deal will be finalized soon. The Yankees may appear to have overpaid given their bargaining power, but it should pay off in the long run.
When it pays off is precisely when Bonds and A-Rod will be seen dancing again in the spotlight. The Yankees are banking on A-Rod’s chase toward Bonds’ home run record.
Look at the revenue it generated for the San Francisco Giants. Bonds brought in the money and allowed the fans, within the city limits of San Francisco, to forget about all the controversy around him.
For A-Rod, it will be much the same. All criticism and animosity toward the third baseman will go out the window once the record is in sight.
People will no longer see the money-hungry, me-first A-Rod, and focus on history. It’s no secret that most baseball fans are romantics at heart – look at all the sappy, tear-jerking commercials.
A-Rod will not only offer fans the opportunity to be a part of history, but the chance to erase Bonds as the record holder. Conversely, Bonds would be off the hook.
Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield and others suspected of steroid use don’t draw the same attention as Bonds because they are no threat to challenge the most hallowed record in sports.
Bonds could have avoided much of the fire if he had retired before breaking the record – see Mark McGwire. A-Rod could have bought favor with the fans if he had honored his contract and come out with his Yankee proclamation prior to testing the free agent market.
Barring injury, A-Rod will break the record.
Bonds’ career has to be over at this point. Case proceedings will start before next season and no team will take on that type of distraction.
A-Rod could be Bonds’ saving grace, but, if convicted, Bonds will no doubt get left out of the Hall of Fame.
Maybe A-Rod doesn’t want to hold the home run record. After all, Pete Rose, the all-time hit leader, is not in the Hall of Fame and the home run king is about to get left off the ballot.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer John Greenley at firstname.lastname@example.org.