Most people know that Alex Rodriguez was suspended for the entire 2014 Major League Baseball season. What people don't know is how A-Rod spent his year away from baseball. These are the A-Rod Files.
Monday - January 20th, 2014
Some would call it a vintage clock. Bud Selig brought with him to the commissioner's office in New York. It wasn't anything more than a mass produced all plastic job from the old County Stadium gift shop, but its original Brewers logo of a barrel chested man swinging a bat over the state of Wisconsin reminded Bud of home. Each time he looked at the clock, Bud would give himself an informal countdown to retirement.
He glanced up from some paperwork to check the clock again, but this time there was no countdown. His 10 o'clock was late. He'd half expected this, but no one likes getting stood up. A familiar feeling started in Bud's chest and burned all the way down to his feet. It was a combination of frustration and exasperation.
His phone rang. Bud hit the speakerphone, "Mr. Selig, Mr. Rodriguez is here."
Bud eased back in his chair, clasped his hands in front of his mouth as if to pray and took a deep breath.
"Yes, Jordan" Bud sighed, "Tell him I will be with him shortly."
"Yes Mr. Selig"
Bud leaned forward, rubbed his palms on his temples. He then slid them across the sides of his head and down to the back of his neck. Nearly a week early an arbitrator had reduced the suspension that he, Bud Selig, Commissioner of Major League Baseball had handed down based on a mountain of evidence that Alex Rodriguez had used PED's throughout a large part of his career. Selig had originally punished Rodriguez with a 211 game ban that was ultimately reduced after appeal to the entire 2014 season. Selig recognized that original suspension was a bit of a reach and had come to accept that a season long ban was probably fair considering all aspects of the situation.
Bud looked at his Brewers clock. It was 10:55. The normal feeling of nostalgia and comfort associated with the clock were replaced with that feeling only A-Rod brought. Part of him wanted to keep Rodriguez waiting to remind him of the value of people's time, but Bud had dealt with him enough to know that the message would not get through. It never did. Bud bit the bullet and phoned Jordan.
Alex bounced in through the door with a huge smile on his face. Out of habit, Selig stood up and moved from behind his desk to greet him. By the time Selig caught himself realizing that a man an hour late did not deserve such a greeting, it was too late. To sit back done would look foolish and indecisive.
"Alex, you're almost an hour late."
"I know Bud" Alex bounded in and stuck out his hand.
Reluctantly, Selig extended his. He knew what was coming. Alex grabbed Selig's hand, shifted it to a clutch and pulled him in close for a one-armed bro hug. There was little Selig could do at that point. A-Rod was half his age and twice his size.
Fortunately it was quick. It always was with A-Rod. Pulling away he said "I was having a late breakfast in Chinatown. Man, they got everything down there. I almost couldn't decide. I must've gone to like 4 or 5 places until I was full".
A-Rod promptly dropped himself into one of the two chairs across from Selig's side of the desk.
It wasn't even an apology, Bud thought to himself. as he made his way to his chair. "Alex, you asked for this meeting. No agents. No lawyers. Your request. I didn't have to do this you know."
"I know" A-Rod chirped. He always had a lot of energy "I appreciate it Bud. I really do."
In person Alex seemed genuine, but Selig knew there was always something else.
They sat in silence for a moment. Bud waited for Alex to go on, but he didn't.
Why is he even here, Bud thought to himself. A-Rod just sat there with a grin on his face.
"Why are you here?"
"I'm here for whatever you need me for Bud."
Selig shot back "Alex, you're suspended."
"I know Bud. Suspended. You don't want me playing any baseball this year. So what it is that you want me to do?"
"Alex" Selig measured his words "I don't WANT you to do anything. The ONLY thing I can tell you is that you can't play in any regular season or post season games in 2014. The Yankees will tell you how much they want you around otherwise. Beyond that, there is nothing officially that I can tell you."
"Nothing official" A-Rod winked at Selig "I hear ya' Bud. You can't 'officially' tell me what to do." A-Rod had put up his index and ring fingers on both hands to air-quote 'officially'.
"Alex, I don't understand what you're getting at"
"Bud, why would you suspend the greatest player in MLB history if you didn't need me for something else? Something greater. Well, you've got me for 1 year. Lets do some great things".
"Alex" Bud replied firmly "I don't know where you go that from, but that's that not why I suspended you. I suspended you bec-"
A-Rod cut in "Bud, I know the 'reasons'" again with the air-quotes. "But you and I both know what this is all about. You need me. And I want you to know that I am here for you."
"Alex" Selig's firmness was weakening
A-Rod interrupted again by standing up and said "Bud don't say anything else. Its pretty clever, I've got to admit. Pretty clever."
Selig tried to speak but the words wouldn't form. His eyes just followed A-Rod across the his office.
A-Rod stopped a few feet from the door and turned around "I know you can't say a lot here" A-Rod pointed his finger around the corners of the office. "They're listening" he mouthed. "We'll be in touch".
And just like that A-Rod bounded out the door with the same zip with which he had entered.