A-Rod works the media dance

Published 10:27 pm Tuesday, February 17, 2009

None of what Alex Rodriguez said in Florida on Tuesday was newsworthy.

Whether a fan takes Rodriguez’s self-deprecating downplaying of his drug use as “amateur hour” or not, everything from the minute Rodriguez decided to lie down on ESPN’s couch and beg for forgiveness has been choreographed.

The most important notes to take away from whatever’s left of A-Rod’s apologies and the first Yankee road trip to Fenway are the things going on behind the scenes to protect Rodriguez’s multi-hundred-million-dollar career and the things going on around him as the New York Yankees protect their multinational, multi-billion-dollar investments.

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Major League Baseball will not punish Rodriguez for his past drug use. The names from the anonymous survey were to stay anonymous; that’s why the players’ union agreed to the survey in the first place. If anyone is fined, suspended or anything because of information leaked from the six-year-old survey, MLB’s commissioner, execs and owners will have a harder time putting stricter drug policies in place.

Behind the scenes, Rodriguez has circled the wagons in a way that would make a politician proud. He has hired the same lawyer who counseled President George W. Bush during the Valarie Plame CIA-leak case. Rodriguez is also making sure MLB doesn’t start anything. Legally speaking, he has more of a case going after MLB, but he’d much rather have the story fade away.

Rodriguez called in another big-name free agent of his own, Outside Eyes, a crisis and media management company. At outsideeyes.com, the company advertises its experience managing “wars, natural disasters and indictments.” That tells you the extent of what A-Rod has to protect.

And it became obvious and public on Tuesday that the Yankees are circling the wagons, as well.

Pitcher Andy Pettitte certainly didn’t choose to be a part of A-Rod’s next chapter and have his steroid story rehashed. Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera have been Yankees for more than three decades combined, and Derek Jeter — the princely, gentlemanly hero of baseball (or so one thought) — could’ve declined the circus, but apparently not. At this point, Posada, Rivera and Jeter are on the clean side of the Steroid Era. A-Rod’s teammates were forced into the starting lineup by the Steinbrenners.

Jeter, Posada and Rivera were called up for the same duty last February, when Pettitte saw a “chance to look forward.” A-Rod was not at Pettitte’s confessional.

Add in Jason Giambi, and the scoreboard for the Yankees since 2001 is: Spring-Training-tell-alls, 3; world titles, 0; and the new Yankee Stadium (for A-Rod to break the all-time home run record in around 2013) $1.3 billion.

A united team will be needed to bring a championship to the new Stadium, and it started with the Yanks sending $94-million-a-year of their investments to the plate yesterday.