So, this Alex Rodriguez guy—no, I'm not going there. Bryan Burwell opened his thesaurus over the keyboard and shook all the belittling adjectives out, but no amount of righteous indignation is going to get me up in arms about a positive test in a league that had not, in 2003, shown any indication that it thought steroid use—or cheating in general, really—was a problem.
It's interesting that it happened to A-Rod, because the narrative up to now has been centered around what is perceived as an inadequate "will to win" on his part. He's the choker, the pansy, the guy whose apparent desire to be the most milquetoast superstar in the world has led to a public persona that falls somewhere between Olympic girl gymnast and leering politician. Most recently, the guy who dated Madonna.
The fall-from-grace angle that most sportswriters are taking seems like a dishonest one, because they weren't offering him any grace to begin with—he's always been a stepchild, the guy who takes the blame no matter what he does, and he's always lacked the Ted Williams aloofness that's necessary to stay on that track. To gnash our teeth and act like our last illusion has been shattered now, less than a month after the guy got his name dragged through another book-full of embarrassing anecdotes, is absurd.
A young street urchin is standing outside of the courthouse, looking dejected. A-Rod walks out, surrounded by paparazzi. "Say it ain't so," he says, his eyes welling up. "Just say it ain't so, Alex."
A-Rod looks earnestly into the boy's eyes, wrecked by years of sports scandal-related sobbing. He claps his hand on the boy's shoulder. He says, "It ain't so, kid. I've never used steroids before in my life, and I promise you the truth will come out."
The boy looks confused for a moment, and then he says: "What? I just meant about how you're such a total creepster around Derek Jeter. You suck, man!"
But it's still interesting. A-Rod's really, really good already—I don't think you can reconcile not caring about winning with taking steroids. I like Rob Neyer's blurb on the subject.
Meanwhile, the Skip Schumaker inside joke reaches un-back-downable heights. Sure, it started off funny—but now, months later, Skip Schumaker is taking groundballs at second base.
Anyone who's read Bernice Bobs Her Hair knows how this goes: you talk about doing something crazy and everyone likes you for it, and you keep talking about it, but finally February rolls around and there you are, a $20 infielder's glove from Play It Again Sports hanging at your side, Brad Thompson throwing sinkers, your bluff called. I wish Skip all the best here, although to be honest I'd have preferred the Chris Duncan-for-Matt Cain joke to come through.
Seriously, though, this only gets weirder the more you think about it, and the more they say about it:
Any part-time move would be about offering depth, not winning a job deeded to Adam Kennedy in December when the club could not find a team willing to absorb Kennedy's $4 million salary.
"It's Adam's job. I know that," said Schumaker, like Kennedy a lefthanded hitter.
Presumably "like Kennedy a lefthanded hitter" is Joe Strauss-code for "I realize this sounds ridiculous, but I have to talk to these people six months a year." What strategic value do the Cardinals gain from having Schumaker, a lefty hitter who would offset his bad glove with a good bat, share time at second with Adam Kennedy, a lefty hitter who offsets his bad bat with a good glove? It's not like this frees up Adam Kennedy to focus on his pitching; if you think Schumaker's going to be worse than Kennedy, as a complete package, than you can just play Kennedy.
The arrangement might make Schumaker more likely to stick with the Cardinals, because Tony La Russa wouldn't pass up a chance to double-switch him into the infield a few times a month, but unless there are concerns about who would man second at the end of twenty-inning bench-depleters having Schumaker around as a surprise second baseman doesn't offer any practical utility.
Responding to any and all trade offers requesting a left-handed first baseman in exchange for a #2 starter, though—let's keep escalating that one.