So we're all cool with Alex Rodriguez now, huh? That's how it works? Everything's good?
Apparently, because one of the biggest cheaters in the history of the sports, a man once suspended for an entire year because of performance-enhancing drugs, is now the centerpiece of the marquee Major League Baseball baseball game of the week.
ESPN announced last week that Rodriguez will be one of the game analysts on Sunday Night Baseball.
All is forgiven. All is forgotten.
Do steroids. Sue Major League Baseball. Be a terrible example to kids. End up being a commentator on a game viewed by nearly 2 million people a week.
Anyone else have a problem with this?
Why should we listen to anything this guy has to say about the game of baseball after he pretty much spit in baseball's face for who knows how long?
"First of all, I've changed,'' Rodriguez said on a conference call with the national media last week. "So it starts with you, right? I changed and once I served my suspension and I had the whole year to sit down and reflect, I wanted to … turn the lens inward and try to figure out a better way, because I knew that I needed some type of paradigm shift.''
In other words, A-Rod seems to be saying he's a new man … since he got caught.
"The suspension was long enough, unfortunately or fortunately, to allow me to think about changes and putting that change in motion,'' Rodriguez said.
Maybe he did change. And the thing A-Rod has going for him is that he was able to outplay his indiscretions. He returned for two seasons with the Yankees after his suspension and played much better than anyone thought he would.
That, as much as anything, repaired his reputation.
"I did not know at 40, coming back after a suspension, after two hip surgeries, after two knee surgeries, if I was good enough to make the team or healthy enough to make the team,'' Rodriguez said. "But I certainly wanted to hang out enough to prove to myself and others around me that I was incredibly grateful and thankful to have an opportunity to put the pinstripes back on and to be one of 750 of the lucky people that get to wear a Major League Baseball uniform. And I knew I could control that part.''
Look, there's no question A-Rod knows baseball. He's good on camera, speaks well and possesses all the qualities a network looks for when hiring broadcasters.
But he's the only one out there with such skills?
Let's not just point a finger at ESPN. A-Rod was previously employed by Fox. Then again, Fox also used to employ Pete Rose so clearly Fox is not interested in setting up its baseball studio on high moral ground.
The move by ESPN is surprising. This is the same network that suspended Jemele Hill for her political opinions. Curt Schilling, many believe, was fired for his political opinions. Bill Simmons was suspended for his opinion about NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Keith Olbermann was suspended for his opinion about Bristol, Conn., the home of ESPN.
On a network full of opinions, who thought it possible to get in trouble for, you know, expressing an opinion?
Yet ESPN had no problem hiring a guy who actually broke the rules and crossed the ethical line of the very sport he is now talking about every week.
When you look at A-Rod's career and life, it's as if taking steroids was all worth it.
He made more than $441 million in his career. He's on the cover of magazines such as Vanity Fair with his girlfriend Jennifer Lopez. And now ESPN is putting him on one its signature shows.
If I'm a 12-year-old kid, tell me again why I don't want to be like A-Rod?
You might argue that A-Rod has every right to work again. He has paid his penance and might never get into the Hall of Fame.
But should be really be on baseball's signature broadcast?
A-Rod says to just give him a chance.
"When you go on television and you go out and you talk about how much you love the game and you're talking about great players and you're trying to describe things to our fans,'' Rodriguez said, "I think you have an opportunity to essentially take the helmet off and reveal a little bit more about who you are and make fun of yourself a great deal, which I love to do. I actually love it more when people make fun of me.
"So, yeah, I think it's just been a good thing, but, again, being myself and trying to show how much I love the game and convey that is what I try to do.''
Perhaps A-Rod will be great. Maybe he will use his new platform to talk about the dangers of steroids. Maybe he can be a cautionary tale.
Maybe he'll talk about his regrets.
Then again, does he have any?
Contact Tom Jones at [email protected] Follow @tomwjones.