The Yankees' Alex Rodriguez is currently in the final steps of rehabbing from hip surgery in order to return to the team. He's probably dying to get back to the MLB and do his best to help forget his miserable past months.
To recap some of the A-Rod sadness carnival: He was taken out of the lineup in the 2012 playoffs. He majorly screwed up his left hip. His name was tossed around in the batch of leaked Biogenesis documents. His own general manager told him to shut the fuck up. Throughout all of that, and much earlier than late 2012, Rodriguez has been generally reviled by even the most casual of sports fans.
On the flip-side of the coin, if you hate Rodriguez, it's been a great few months. Seeing a narcissistic, overpaid, unlikable guy deal with all this crap is high-quality schadenfreude. But is there a limit to how much someone can hate a guy who's seen as a liability by his own fans?
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports interviewed Rodriguez during his rehab stint with the Charleston RiverDogs, and he sounds determined to prove to everyone that at 38 years old, he's still worth a roster spot on the Yankees.
"I know most people wouldn't want the confrontation. Most people would say, 'Get me out of here. Trade me. Do anything.'
"But I'm the (expletive) crazy man who goes, 'I want to compete. I want to stay in New York. I refuse to quit.'
"Maybe it's stupidity, I don't know, but I'm wired to compete and give my best. I have a responsibility to be ready to play as soon as I can.''
It's reflex to dismiss the lengthy, tell-all interview as an attempt at image-repairing as Rodriguez makes his way back to the Yankees, and it probably partially is, but some of the quotes are genuinely sad. There's no reason for anyone to feel bad for Rodriguez's finances; he's in the sixth year of a 10-year, $275 million contract and will get that money regardless. But the vitriol Rodriguez suffers is so intense, so near-universal, it seems natural to feel a tiny, eensy bit bad for the guy. How much more execration can possibly be piled on to him?
Rodriguez is wise to just focus on getting healthy. If winning solves everything, hitting better than David Adams and Alberto Gonzalez should probably help some.
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