Redemption is a long, treacherous road. And Alex Rodriquez is barely out of the driveway.
It will take every one of the 10 to 15 years remaining of his baseball career to fix his tainted rep, and he still may not. Along the way he’ll hit potholes, crash and he’ll even occasionally lose his way.
But he has to something, and on Monday A-Rod made a decent start by admitting to being a steroid user (although he never actually said the word) during his years with the Texas Rangers, after being outed by Sports Illustrated.
Sure he has to show up at spring training and undergo rigorous question. He’ll have to admit and apologize and explain over and over and over again. But there are other actions he should take, actions that would help demonstrate the level of his remorse.
Call them Step Two in A-Rod’s own 12(at least)-step Program for Redemption:
* First, Rodriguez should immediately renounce his 2003 AL MVP Award.
A-Rod was very specific about the period of his drug use – during the 2001-2003 seasons that coincided with with Texas, with him he signed a $252 million contract. All three seasons were staggering statistically. he averaged 52 home runs, .305 batting average and 131 RBIs. The 2003 season, when he was voted MVP, was not his best – by the numbers – but he was a clear winner over Carlos Delgado.
Not so, we know now. Rodriguez should return the trophy to MLB and ask that it be awarded to Delgado. He should have his name purged from the voting and donate any performance bonus he may have received for the award to a baseball-related charity designated by the Rangers.
Yes, it could be easily dismissed by some as empty symbolism. But I would accept it as an acknowledgement of ill-gotten gains and certainly less symbolic than even his admission because it produce tangible effects.
* Then, he should publicly apologize to Rangers owner Tom Hicks.
Rodriguez may have done so privately already. At least I hope he has. If not, then Boras should be fired again and A-Rod shall repeat “naive” and “stupid” over and again. For his millions, for his providing Rodriguez with the platform to showcase his considerable talents and prove he’s the best player in the game, Hicks was duped. (Family version.) And he’s rightly angry.
This isn’t about the money (although in this economy even multi-millionaires are welcoming economic relief), but about betrayal. As much as he needed to publicly admit to steroid use, A-Rod must publicly and privately (face-to-face) express his contrition to Hicks, the man who essentially provided for him for life.
* Finally, he should use a significant portion of monies earned during his Texas tenure to do a great good.
Sixty-six million dollars. That’s what Rodriguez earned during his three seasons in Texas, according to reports. Who knows whether money is banked or spent, but perhaps the biggest statement A-Rod could make today is that he take, say, $35 million (I’m giving him a break for taxes), and establishing a fund to support programs across the nation to combat drug use among children.
In Internet search for “Alex Rodriguez Foundation” turns up something called the A-Rod Family Foundation, which describes itself as a charity “dedicated to positively impacting families in distress by supporting programs focusing on improved quality of life, education and mental health.” The site is peppered with cutesy pics of Alex and his ex-wife Cynthia at various events.
Uh, if the lack of attention to updating the site is any indication of Rodriguez’s commitment to the charity’s noble cause, well, there are a heck of a lot of distressed, less-educated, mentally unhealthy families out there waiting still.
Demonstrating a real and visible commitment to taking this screw-up and making it a transformational positive for kids – in the U.S. and in the Dominican Republic – would show not only a true understanding of the magnitude of his transgression but also the depth of his resolve to make it right, if it can be.
Rodriguez should announce these moves now. His next public appearance should not be about talking more talk (although he does indeed have more explaining to do) but walking the walk towards redemption. Or better yet, downshifting and trying to get there as fast as he can.