Commentary

Judge A-Rod 'from this day forward'

Updated: February 19, 2009, 10:04 AM ET
By Gene Wojciechowski | ESPN.com

Huh? His cousin injected him with what? With "boli"? I'm confused. Is that a steroid or a pasta?

Sift through the rubble of Alex Rodriguez's latest fistfight with the truth and you're left with handfuls and handfuls of question marks. I know he admitted something; I'm just not sure what exactly.

But one A-Rod statement did make surprising sense. In fact, it made perfect sense.

"I screwed up big-time," said Rodriguez during his Tuesday confessional, "but the only thing I ask from this group today and the American people is to judge me from this day forward."

It's a deal, Alex. Have your agent, Scott Boras, send over the contract right now and every baseball fan in the country will sign off on it. We're willing to wipe the grease board clean if you are.

But there are going to be some provisions in the new deal. Closure comes with a price. Rodriguez and Boras, who have negotiated a combined hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of contracts with the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees, should understand that better than anyone.

From this day forward, eh? No problem. But the back of A-Rod's baseball card is now almost completely blank.

Those six full seasons with the Seattle Mariners (and the two other partial seasons there) never existed. Poof go 189 home runs and 595 RBIs from 1994 to 2000.

Sorry, but if A-Rod was "young and stupid" in 2001-2003 -- the description he used repeatedly when explaining his decision to take injectable, non-Tic Tacs, performance-enhancing drugs while playing for the Rangers -- then he was younger and stupider when he started his pro career with the Mariners. So who's to say he didn't do a little "energy boosting" in Seattle?

Anyway, per Rodriguez's instructions, those Seattle dingers and ribbies are gone.

It goes without saying that A-Rod's Rangers numbers have been arrested for impersonating real stats. Texas team owner Tom Hicks, who signed A-Rod to a $252 million landmark deal, is available to personally erase each of Rodriguez's 156 home runs and 395 RBIs from the media guide.

MLB drug testing started in 2004, the first season Rodriguez joined the Yankees. Maybe he was clean, maybe he wasn't. I know this: I'm not taking him at his word, mostly because his word has a habit of changing from week to week.

[+] EnlargeAlex Rodriguez
Al Messerschmidt/Getty ImagesAlex Rodriguez wants us to judge him from this day forward. OK, deal.

Rodriguez said he hasn't done PEDs as a Yankee. But he also said he wants to be judged from Feb. 17, 2009, and on. So we'll sort of split the difference.

A-Rod's 36 homers and 106 RBIs in 2004, his 48 homers and 130 RBIs in 2005, his 35 homers and 121 RBIs in 2006 and his 54 homers and 156 RBIs in 2007 are, as Bluto from "Animal House" referred to frat rat Greg Marmalard, "Dead!" But Rodriguez gets to keep his 2008 numbers (35-103) for two reasons: They were his lowest (and perhaps most believable) combined home run/RBI totals since 1997, and a player needs at least 10 years of service to qualify for the Hall of Fame.

Former Rodriguez teammate Jamie Moyer has made it clear how he feels about A-Rod's chances at Cooperstown. Moyer recently told the Philadelphia Inquirer, "Who in their right mind would vote for anyone who got caught taking that stuff?"

But if you do as A-Rod has asked and judge him post-confession, then his HOF stats clock officially starts when the Yankees open their season April 6 at Baltimore's Camden Yards. He'll be 33 on Opening Day, 34 in late July.

Do the math: A-Rod has nine years left on his Yankees contract and we're giving him the mercy stats from 2008. That's 10 seasons to rewrite and rehabilitate his baseball history. He's at 35 home runs, 103 RBIs, and counting.

Hall of Fame voters are instructed to consider a player's record, ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to his respective team or teams. A-Rod has taken the oh-fer in most of those categories. He has ability -- you have to give him that -- but the check marks stop there. After all, his apologies and explanations came only after Sports Illustrated outed him on his use of performance enhancers.

Even with the bonus head start of 2008, Rodriguez's chances of putting together Hall of Fame credentials during the next nine years are a long shot. Nobody cranks out those kinds of numbers in the latter part of his career except maybe Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds. Oops.

If Rodriguez is serious about starting fresh, then he has to realize there's no gain without pain. You don't get your reputation back just because you ask nicely.

A-Rod might have been young, naive and stupid -- his favorite descriptions -- when he took his first injection. But we're not. At least, not anymore.

You want your baseball legacy back? Earn it. The clock is ticking.

Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at gene.wojciechowski@espn3.com.

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