National Columnist

Just go away: Pathetic A-Rod no longer worthy of attention

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Is Alex Rodriguez still a superstar draw, or simply a sideshow attraction like a mascot? (USATSI)
Is Alex Rodriguez still a superstar draw, or simply a sideshow attraction like a mascot? (USATSI)

Are you as done with Alex Rodriguez as I am?

I don't mean done in the "for or against" sort of way. If that's what I meant -- are you for A-Rod, or against him? -- there would be no question. Because of course you're against Alex Rodriguez. We're all done with A-Rod in that sense, probably even Yankees fans. Maybe even the Yankees themselves. Wouldn't surprise me if the players in the New York clubhouse dislike A-Rod as much as we do.

But that's not my question. My question is, are you as tired of the concept of Alex Rodriguez as I am? Some people -- Barry Bonds was one; Johnny Manziel is becoming another -- are dislikably fascinating.

Not A-Rod. This guy is dislikably tiresome, and I'm done with him. Tired of reading about him. Tired of hearing about him. You're right, this story is a stupid way of showing it -- complaining about the attention on A-Rod by giving attention to A-Rod -- but I don't know what else to do.

Ignoring him isn't making him go away.

For me, the breaking point came Sunday night in Tulsa. Or above Tulsa. Maybe 38,000 feet in the air, on a plane from Cincinnati to Los Angeles, and there's A-Rod. On that TV screen, embedded in the back of the headrest in front of me. Incredible invention, that one. A touch-screen television set for every passenger on an airplane? Amazing.

A three-minute segment on Alex Rodriguez on ESPN?

Amazing. And not in the TV-in-a-headrest kind of way. Amazing, as in, huh? Three more minutes on A-Rod? Returning to the Yankees, not returning to the Yankees, who cares anymore beyond the actual transaction?

When A-Rod makes news, fine. Put him with the other tiresome minutiae of sports, the tidbits newspapers reduce to small type in the transactions section. When Stony Brook hires an athletic director or a Frontier League baseball team signs a shortstop, it's listed under transactions. In the newspaper business we called that stuff "agate." No idea what "agate" really means, but to me it has always meant information that matters to somebody, somewhere ... just not to me.

That's A-Rod. He's an administrator at Stony Brook. He's a shortstop in the Frontier League.

He's agate.

But there was Agate-Rod at 38,000 feet, embedded in the headrest of the seat in front of me. He might still be there, far as I know. I'm writing this from a spot somewhere above Texas -- we just passed Amarillo, looks like -- but if ESPN is going to waste my time with agate, I'm turning ESPN off.

Nothing against ESPN, either. Lots of people are talking or writing about A-Rod like he still matters, including my own website. Every time A-Rod plays a game in the minor leagues, we have a report on it. Like it matters. Even here, this story right here, I'm writing on A-Rod. Like he matters.

Thing is, he should matter. If A-Rod were a different kind of person, he would matter. He's one of the greatest talents to ever play baseball, a can't-miss prospect in a game where they miss all the time, but he didn't miss. He was never going to miss. He had size and speed and power. All five tools? He had 'em. He was destined for Cooperstown when he was 20 years old, and people knew it.

And then he screwed it up, because that's what he does. He's not a bad human being, not a mean guy. But he's a screwup. He's mentally weak, is what he is, and having Hall of Fame ability isn't enough to overcome that. A-Rod is spectacularly flaccid mentally, a weak-minded person who wasn't strong enough to say no to the steroids he didn't need to excel, or to the ridiculous headlines he didn't need to be famous, or to the shameless agent he didn't need to be obscenely wealthy.

A-Rod had it all -- not just talent but looks; from a physical standpoint, the guy is almost the perfect human specimen -- but he's missing something. Self-confidence? Self-respect? I can't figure it out. He would be a fascinating study for a psychologist, but it baffles me why he's such a failure, the kind of guy who would slap at a pitcher's glove to knock the ball loose or yell "ha!" at an infielder to make him drop a popup, as if there would be any honor in such an empty, temporary victory.

Maybe that's the ultimate problem with A-Rod -- no honor. And not just in one area, but in every area. The cheating then with the Rangers through cousin Yuri, the still-alleged cheating now with the Yankees through the Biogenesis lab. The corny photo shoots. The cheesy women. Kabbalah.

The guy had everything, and he pissed it away. Even though he was a Hall of Famer without cheating -- like Bonds was, like Roger Clemens was -- he won't make it into the Hall of Fame. Bonds and Clemens might get in someday, but A-Rod shouldn't and won't. He's that pathetic. Not fearsome. Not loathsome. Just, pathetic.

The guy is fifth all-time in home runs, he has earned more than $350 million and he once dated Cameron Diaz -- and I'll be damned, but I feel sorry for him. He's pathetic.

And he's not worth the attention we keep giving him. The New York tabloids have sent reporters to his minor-league games. Here I am somewhere above Albuquerque, and ESPN is probably about to talk about him some more. And look at me, writing about Agate-Rod from my seat in row 29.

Going forward, only one thing interests me about A-Rod: When he has been retired five years and becomes eligible for the Hall of Fame, how short will he fall of induction? We all know he won't get in, but I wonder if he'll get even 10 percent of the vote. A candidate has to receive at least 5 percent to be put back on the ballot the following year. Will A-Rod, even with his three MVP trophies, make the cut that first year?

I hope he doesn't. It would be a fitting rebuke for a player who had it all, and pissed it all away.

If only we could start A-Rod's five-year clock right now. If only this colossal failure would do something right for the first time in years and just go away. Preferably before my plane flies over Flagstaff.


Gregg Doyel is a columnist for CBSSports.com. He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. More importantly, he is 4-0 as an amateur boxer, with three knockouts. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.
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