For most of June and July, I've been trying to find a TV series to enjoy. I know — I should just watch more baseball. It's always the best TV of the summer. But a 30-minute-to-one-hour breather here and there helps clear the mind. It's a palate cleanser. At least for me.
Dexter and Under the Dome haven't really done it for me; I gave up on those shows after a couple of episodes. The Bridge looks promising. I think I've actually found a winner with Orange is the New Black on Netflix. (As soon as I finish this article, I'm probably going to watch another episode. Binge!)
Yet there hasn't really been a good comedy to watch this summer. Until now. What had been an increasingly tiresome drama between Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees took a step into total farce on Wednesday.
Rather than accept the team's diagnosis of a strained quadriceps muscle that will keep Rodriguez out for seven to 10 days, the Yankees third baseman decided to get a second opinion on his supposed injury. A-Rod pushed the disagreement even further by putting the doctor he consulted on the air with WFAN's Mike Francesa. That doctor said Rodriguez wasn't injured.
Say what now?
“To be perfectly honest, I don’t see any sort of injury there,” Dr. Michael Gross of Hackensack University Medical Center told Francesa on Wednesday.
"I asked him… ‘A-Rod, does anything hurt?’ And he said ‘No.’ If there’s no pain, to me as an orthopedist, that means there’s no injury."
However, Dr. Gross eventually admitted that he didn't examine Rodriguez. He looked at the MRI results that prompted the Yankees to keep him on the disabled list. But his diagnosis — if that's even what to call it — was based Rodriguez saying he felt fit to play. A-Rod knows his body, Gross reasoned. So if he says he can play, he can probably play.
With that, palms smacked foreheads and covered faces throughout the New York media and across the internet.
Gross is obviously a very qualified physician, given that he is the chief of orthopedics at a prominent research and teaching hospital in the New York metropolitan area. Yet it almost appears as if Gross' consultation with A-Rod consisted of holding up a doll and asking him to point to where it doesn't hurt.
Did A-Rod also consult Dr. Leo Spaceman from 30 Rock in his attempt to get the diagnosis he really wanted to hear? Perhaps he also talked to Dr. Nick from The Simpsons. (Hello, everybody!) Dr. Nick and Dr. Gross actually have something in common, as we'll explain a bit later.
The most important facepalm was from Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, who had previously suggested Rodriguez "shut the [bleep] up" when it came to discussing his injury and rehabilitation with the media.
In a statement released to the press, Cashman confirmed that Rodriguez wasn't examined by Gross. Furthermore, A-Rod violated the terms of baseball's Collective Bargaining Agreement by seeking a second opinion without first consulting the Yankees.
As you can read for yourself (on page 54 of this PDF), the CBA states in Article XIII, Paragraph D that "a Player shall inform the Club in writing of his decision to seek a second medical opinion, and the name of the physician who will be performing the diagnosis and medical evaluation." Oops.
But maybe that's a small matter that can be resolved by having Rodriguez re-examined, and perhaps having Yankees team physician Christopher Ahmad consult with Dr. Gross on his findings. One can only imagine how awkward that conversation might be, considering Gross publicly questioned Ahmad's diagnosis on New York radio airwaves.
Something else that might come up in any prospective conversation between the Yankees and Dr. Gross might be his reprimand from the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners. According to the New York Daily News, Dr. Gross was admonished (just like Dr. Nick!) by the board for “failing to adequately ensure proper patient treatment involving the prescribing of hormones including steroids.”
Hormones and steroids? That probably raised a few eyebrows at the MLB offices.
Sure enough, a source told the Daily News that baseball is now expanding its investigation into Rodriguez to include Dr. Gross' and his clinic, called the Active Center for Health and Wellness. Gross insists that the clinic has never prescribed anabolic steroids, but "bio-identical hormones" — or testosterone.
If this was a traditional multi-camera sitcom, you might hear a laugh track right now. A-Rod versus the Yankees isn't being filmed live before a studio audience, but the comedy is certainly playing out before a wide viewership in the media.
The feud between A-Rod and the Yankees has mostly been a soap opera to this point. The Yankees would like Rodriguez and the nearly $100 million on his contract to go away. A-Rod presumably wants to keep wearing the uniform and playing baseball in the city that brings him so much fame, while also making sure he gets all that money.
Of course, A-Rod's alleged association with the Biogenesis clinic in Miami and MLB's crusade to punish the players who received PEDs from "nutritionist" Tony Bosch has added a thick layer of intrigue to this story. We have names and figures scribbled in notebooks, evidence purchased — either to be destroyed or used as proof in an investigation — and wild conspiracy theories.
A-Rod is faking a quadriceps injury to preempt a suspension! No, the Yankees are saying he's injured so they can collect insurance on his contract! These two sides just plain don't trust each other!
It's the story that just won't end, though baseball fans would really, truly like it to end. Will MLB just suspend A-Rod and get this over with? But these latest revelations have actually added some entertainment value to these proceedings. This is getting funny. And the longer the clash between A-Rod and the Yankees goes, the funnier it could get. Maybe A-Rod can bring his MRI results to other doctors, such as Doctor Who, Doctor Strange and Doctor Love. Perhaps we'll see Cashman's head explode.
Ultimately, the ending to A-Rod's story will be a sad one, of course. There's nothing funny about his descent from glory to disgrace. He could have been one of baseball's all-time great players. However, Rodriguez now looks likely to finish short of the historic numbers he was on pace to achieve. He's perceived by fans and commentators as a cheat and a liar.
Until then, however, the least A-Rod can do is give us some laughs along the way. Right now, he seems all too willing to accommodate us.