Does anyone feel sorry for Alex Rodriguez – other than Alex Rodriguez?

He has sort of taken Lance Armstrong off the hook. Armstrong finally admitted he was a cheater and that illegal performance-enhancing drugs contributed mightily to his seven straight Tour de France victories.

A-Rod hasn’t reached that stage yet. He’s still in denial. He calls “evidence” against him false and unreliable.  He said Major League Baseball singled him out and had a vendetta against him. A “witch hunt,” he called it. He thinks arbitrator Fredric Horowitz’s decision to suspend him for the entire 2014 season was an injustice of epic proportion.


I’ve been down on A-Rod ever since he finally confessed (only after Sports Illustrated called him out) that he used performance-enhancing drugs -- but only during his three seasons with the Texas Rangers because he was under “an enormous amount of pressure.”

A-Rod was the highest-paid player in baseball. He had the gall to say he was under extrao0rdinary pressure. What about the hundreds of less-talented clean players he was competing against? They were battling to stay in the majors and maintain their relatively modest standards of living? Did A-Rod think of them? Of course not. He wanted even more of an edge on the playing field. His superior natural gifts were not enough.

I believe A-Rod should’ve cut a deal long ago, when he might have had a chance, rather than get into a public relations battle with commissioner Bud Selig. He portrayed himself as an angel against a cruel symbol of authority.

I somewhat understand why many devout baseball fans and casual observers aren’t fond of Selig. He gets much of the blame for the Steroids Era. Many insist that he should’ve been more active in banning steroids. Of course, he could not. He needed the cooperation of the players’ union and that was long in coming.

I don’t understand at all why so many people seemed to side with A-Rod in his legal challenge against MLB. Did people learn nothing from the Lance Armstrong charade?

If I were Hank Streinbrenner, I’d pay A-Rod the money remaining on his contract – a base $61 million from 2015 through 2017 – and cut all ties with him. I’d pay him never to play with the Yankees again. I’d give him his freedom so he could join any other team after he sits out his suspension this season. He probably wouldn’t be much help on the field but he’d be a gate attraction in a freaky sort of way.

A-Rod turned 38 last July 27. He already has lost his .300 career batting average. It’s .299 now and figures to drop (assuming he plays again). He has 654 HRs and needs 7 more to top Willie Mays and get a $6 million bonus from the Yankees. He isn’t likely to last long enough to top Babe Ruth (thank goodness), Hank Aaron (ditto) or Barry Bonds (who cares?). He needs 61 hits to reach 3,000. He might get them but it won’t help him get elected to the Hall of Fame.

A-Rod appears determined to go down swinging. He is far more likely to strike out than to hit a home run. At this stage of his game – on and off the field – that would be appropriate.


The 12-team one-and-done tournament called the NFL playoffs seldom produces the Final Four most of us would prefer to see. Sunday will be one of those exceptions:  New England at Denver in the AFC championship game and San Francisco at Seattle in the NFC.

The Patriots vs. the Broncos of course will feature two of the five all-time best QBs in Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. We’ll be hearing their career playoff records all week: Brady 18-7 and Manning 10-11. Manning will win his fifth league MVP award by as landslide. Considering New England’s key personnel losses this season, Brady was more valuable than ever.

The 49ers vs. the Seahawks features what could the two best-balanced teams in the NFL. Both teams have an exciting young starting quarterback.

Early odds on the title games: Denver -5 vs. New England (over/under 55 points)...Seattle – 3 ½ vs. San Francisco (over/under 40 points).


The story of the National Lacrosse League last weekend was t6he amazing John Tavares. The legendary star of the Buffalo Bandits had five goals, including the game-winner in overtime, to defeat the Philadelphia Wings in their home opener Sunday afternoon. Tavares is 45 years old and has been with the Bandits since their inaugural NLL season in 1992...Buffalo also won last Friday night 12-10 over Toronto before 11,404 in their home opener...Mark Matthew had 5 goals and 4 assists Saturday night for the Edmonton Rush in a 17-6 home win over Colorado. Mammoth star John Grant Jr. had no goals.

The Rochester Knighthawks (2-0) and Edmonton Rush (2-0) are the only remaining undefeated teams in the nine-team NLL...The Knighthawks will host Toronto Saturday night at Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial. It will be Rochester’s third straight game to start the season. Five of their next six games will be on the road.


Jack O’Connell, secretary/treasurer for the Baseball Writers Association of America, says the average number of players on the ballots of the 571 voters was 8.4 players in this year’s Hall of Fame balloting. “Just over” 50 percent of the voters listed the maximum picks. Maybe some of them were legitimately selective. I believe many of them were stubborn and lazy.

The Hall of Fame ballot for the Class of 2015 will include two players who figure to be elected on their first try (Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez), one who could be elected on the first try (John Smoltz) and two very good players who probably never will be elected (Gary Sheffield and Nomar Garciaparra).

--Sunday’s 2-1 Shootout win by Buffalo in Washington was the 19th time the Sabres scored one goal this season. In 44 games, Buffalo has been shut out 6 times, scored one goal 19 times, two goals 10 times, three goals 6 times and four goals 3 times...The Rochester Americans also are having a difficult time scoring goals. That’s probably no coincidence.

--Here’s why Andre Reed will have a tough time making the Pro Football Hall of Fame with fellow wide receivers Marvin Harrison (first time on the ballot) and Tim Brown among the finalists:

Reed – 951 catches...13,198 yards...87 TDs

Brown – 1,094 catches...124,943 yards...100 TDs

Harrison – 1,102 catches...14,580 yards...128 TDs.

--Mucho Macho Man, winner of the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic, is scheduled to make his first start since on Saturday in the Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream  Park.