First off, why do they call the cartilage in your hip the "labrum?" Is this some sort of medical gag designed to confuse baseball writers? Because, seriously, it's working. We are confused. The labrum is the cartilage in the shoulder that protects the shoulder blade AND the labrum is also the cartilage that protects the hip joint. Really. Apparently there are not enough words in medicine.
In general, it has been the labrum in the shoulder -- the glenoid labrum according to the official medical source of the American Medical Association otherwise known as "Wikipedia" -- that has been the hot injury in baseball. Our good friend
Now, of course, the shoulder labrum is as yesterday as
Lots of people are speculating about what this will mean for A-Rod's career. I have to say: I have absolutely no idea. The doctors quoted seem to think he will be able to come back after this first arthroscopic surgery and play for the rest of the season, and those same doctors seem to think that he should have a full recovery after more intensive hip surgery in the offseason. That's certainly possible. They are doctors, they should know. Then again, a soon-to-be-34-year-old infielder facing two hip surgeries doesn't exactly seem like the world's best bet.
I would make a couple of points. One, there are not many third basemen who have had great years into their late 30s.
Best OPS+ seasons for third basemen (age 35 or older)
Point is, third basemen don't really tend to age very well. There's only one third baseman in baseball history who had an
The second point: Some third basemen do age well after they move to first base --
And while we're here, we might as well talk a little bit about the Yankees. I've read in a few places that the Yankees should be able to overcome the short-term loss of A-Rod, and I think it's possible, because they do have the makings of a dominant starting pitching staff. But to me this was a very flawed team before A-Rod got hurt. They are brutal defensively up the middle. Brutal. That will not help the starting pitching. Their bullpen before
More than anything, look at that lineup.
Now, of course, A-Rod's season is a shaky proposition. His future is shaky, too. All those things that people predicted -- the home run record, the title of greatest player ever, the unanimous Hall of Fame selection -- are hazy. I do feel badly for him. He has been a great player who, in many ways, has not been fully appreciated. He's brought a lot of that on himself, of course, with his brazen grab for money and his admitted steroid use and, yeah, a few ill-timed playoff struggles. But I don't think those things make him much different from many of the other great players in baseball history.
I think of the beautiful line in
"He wanted fame, and wanted it with a pure, hot eagerness that would have been embarrassing in a smaller man. But he could not stand celebrity. This is a bitch of a line to draw in America's dust."
Richard has been working on a book about Alex Rodriguez, and I think I know why. Because A-Rod, like Williams, craved something desperately. I think A-Rod's case, it was more than fame, though he wanted that. It was more than money, though he wanted that, too. It's corny and amateur psychology, but I do believe that he has just wanted to be loved. And here is Alex Rodriguez. He has hit 553 home runs, and he has won three MVP awards, and he has made every All-Star Game for more than a decade, and he is rich, and he is famous, and he is a star. And, also, he's facing two hip surgeries and an uncertain future except for the certain boos that will surround him in every ballpark he will visit. It's a hell of a thing about life. You never know the ending until you get there.