- - Sunday, July 27, 2014


Alex Rodriguez got a birthday present Sunday on the day of his 39th birthday. The Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies took place in Cooperstown — another reminder for A-Rod of what he has lost.

His manager when he was traded to the New York Yankees in 2004 — Joe Torre — stood on the stage before 40,000 people as he thanked many people for the managing career that went from a loser after three jobs to a four-time World Series winning skipper in New York.

You can be sure that Alex Rodriguez wasn’t one of them. The manager made it clear in his 2009 book that he couldn’t stand A-Rod. “Alex monopolized all the attention,” Torre wrote. “We never really had anybody who craved the attention. I think when Alex came over he certainly changed just the feel of the club.”

It’s been a rough month for A-Rod. He had to watch the Derek Jeter love fest at the All-Star Game two weeks ago — his rival in New York, who also clearly couldn’t stand A-Rod, beloved and respected by a nation.

That’s something that A-Rod — a baseball leper, sitting at home serving a 162-game suspension, accused of taking performance enhancing substances connected with the South Florida Biogenesis clinic — will never feel. He will never have the farewell tour that Jeter had.

And he will never have the moment that Joe Torre had Sunday in Cooperstown.
He may never see a major league baseball field again. He can’t play anymore, his body broken down, perhaps by the PEDs he had admitted using more than a decade ago.

A-Rod won’t quit. No, no, the little boy who used to count the change from his mother’s waitress tips still has $61 million on the table that the Yankees owe him. The one noble act that A-Rod still has left is to agree to some sort of settlement and just disappear into the TMZ sunset, a cautionary tale to join the likes of Jose Canseco, Tonya Harding, and Terrell Owens.

Then his place in Cooperstown — the player who at one time was considered the greatest of his era, a three-time Most Valuable Player, with 2,939 hits, 654 home runs and 1,969 RBI over 20 seasons — will be on the sidewalk on Hall of Fame weekend, somewhere between Pete Rose and John Rocker, hawking his signature.

That’s the closest A-Rod will get to the Hall of Fame.

In case A-Rod and the other PED cheaters weren’t paying attention this weekend — which I doubt, since an induction ceremony as high profile as one with Torre, fellow managers Tony LaRussa and Bobby Cox, and all-time greats like Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine cannot be ignored — the Hall of Fame sent another message this weekend that they are not welcome.

The Hall decided to reduce the time a candidate can be on the ballot from 15 years to 10 — cutting by one-third the redemption time that steroid cheaters hoped they might have for voters to get weak-kneed and bestow baseball’s greatest honor on those who accumulated their fame and fortune fraudulently.

Not that time was going erase the taint. It hasn’t yet.

Mark McGwire now has just two years left on the ballot — not seven — but his vote totals have gone down with time, not up. Same with Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, whose vote totals in their second year on the ballot dropped from their first time. Now, instead of 12 more times at bat, Clemens and Bonds have just eight.

During those seven years, Randy Johnson, Chipper Jones, Ken Griffey, Jr., Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Mariano Rivera and, of course Derek Jeter will all be added to the ballot, all likely getting 75 percent of the necessary vote for Hall of Fame induction.

When Jeter is inducted, Hall of Fame officials expect a record-setting crowd in Cooperstown. Hotels there are already getting calls for reservations. Hall of Famer Tom Seaver says Jeter should be the first player in history to get 100 percent of the vote on the first ballot.

Happy birthday, A-Rod.

• Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 radio and espn980.com.



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