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As long as he kept hitting, that would have been fine with Yankee fans. They would have continued cheering him as he continued his inexorable climb up the home run charts, ignoring the fact that many of them were fueled by steroids. By the time he finally broke the illegitimate mark set by Bonds he would have been paid another $30 million in bonuses, and work would be underway for his inclusion in monument park in the new Yankee Stadium.

Like most steroid users, though, his body is beginning to break down. He’s an old 37, and his trips to the disabled list have become commonplace. Once considered a lock to break the home run mark, there seems no way now he can hit the 115 home runs he needs to catch Bonds.

Rodriguez helped the Yankees win a World Series in 2009 _ the only ring he has earned in his career. But he’s hitting .152 with no homers and six RBIs in postseason play since then, and hasn’t homered in his last 84 at-bats.

There’s not much the Yankees can do about it. Any idea of a trade is almost laughable considering his contract, and it’s hard to imagine any team wanting him anyway. He’ll likely finish his career in pinstripes as a very average and often hurt third baseman booed by home fans every time he goes into a slump.

It’s hard to imagine him ever getting a plaque at Yankee Stadium like Derek Jeter will surely get. With his admission of steroid use he’s not a lock for the Hall of Fame, either.

Nobody is going to feel sorry for Rodriguez, no matter how it ends. He isn’t a sympathetic figure to begin with, and the obscene amount of money he has made playing baseball further colors almost every impression of him, even when he makes a point of cheering on his teammates from the dugout.

The Yankees bought into him anyway. And nobody will feel sorry for them as they continue to pay the price.

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Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com//timdahlberg