Waiting for ARod and the return of the prodigal son

In the dog days of August with the New York Yankees flirting with missing the playoffs for the second year in a row, you can…

Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees looks on against the Detroit Tigers during Game Two of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on October 14, 2012 in the Bronx borough of New York City, New York. The Tigers defeated the Yankees 3-0. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

In the dog days of August with the New York Yankees flirting with missing the playoffs for the second year in a row, you can now hear a growing audible among fans not only about wait-til-next-year, but could it be… “ARod…ARod… ARod…”

Perhaps the sound is only in the minds of Yankees fans who see their team languishing eight games out of first place in the American League East Division and four games out of qualifying for one of the two wild card spots.

And they’ re likely going to miss the playoffs in this, Derek Jeter’s final year, amid his tearful farewell tour with baseball fans sentimental about the captain leaving the game, though you have to ask if among Yankee faithful, just how much of the crying is for the retirement of No. 2 and how much of it is for seeing another season going up in smoke.

SEE ALSO: Why Jose Abreu will win Rookie of the Year

Enter Alex Rodriguez.

Say what you will about ARod, if you’re a Yankee fan and now too familiar with the team’s anemic offensive production this year, how can you not wonder if his bat – even if it is no longer what it once was — wouldn’t bring back hopes for what were once the feared Bronx Bombers.

Of course, ARod is out for all of 2014, suspended by Major League Baseball for 162 games for his involvement in the Biogenesis Lab performance enhancing drug scandal, which punished a number of players, even, if like Rodriguez, they never tested positive for steroids or any other PED.

Around this time each year, long ago, fans of the old Brooklyn Dodgers used to begin talking about, “Wait ‘til next year,” which is now the mantra in the Bronx and among Yankee fans hoping for an injury-free new start to their delicate pitching staff and the return of a well-rested ARod eager to prove that those 654 home runs in his career have not been a fluke.

And ARod has an incentive besides the $61 million he’s due from 2015 to 2017. He’ll also get a $6 million bonus if he hits home runs Nos. 660, 714 and 755.

Imagine this: Alex Rodriguez is just months away from reporting to spring training early next year, and he’s been seen working out at the University of Miami and at UCLA, taking grounders, hitting off a tee and lifting weights, according to reports.

More importantly, two words before you write off ARod’s comeback.

Nelson Cruz.

The star slugger of the AL East-leading Orioles didn’t begin his career in Baltimore this, his first year with the team. He has a past as sullied as ARod’s, having served a 50-game suspension last year for his PED involvement that now seems like distant memory or totally ignored if you root for the Orioles.

ARod will undoubtedly face hecklers and critics in 2015 but his road to redemption will be made easier by the return, success and acceptance this year of Nelson Cruz who made the American League’s All-Star team with hardly any talk of his tainted past, even in a year when his offensive production was a marked contrast with a decline in hitting around the league.

It makes you wonder if sports fans really care about steroids, PEDs, arrests, bad boy behavior and the troubles their teams’ stars get into.

SEE ALSO: Nelson Cruz eyes Babe Ruth — and redemption

After all, they award the Heisman Trophy to a college quarterback accused of rape with pretty solid evidence and some petty crimes as well, and he’s still a magazine cover boy. The manager of the Detroit Tigers jokes about going home to beat up his wife because his team lost, and his comment is quickly forgotten. A Baltimore Ravens star player is caught on video dragging his fiancé out of an elevator, and he’s cheered when he reports to practice. And that’s just the top of the litany.

ARod, again, never tested positive for PEDs, and he certainly hasn’t been accused of rape, threatening to beat up his trophy girlfriends or dragging one of them out of an elevator.

So if you give those other jerks a break, cut ARod some rope here.

The Yankees may not make it to the playoffs or the World Series in 2015 with ARod. He’ll be 40 in mid-season, but don’t count him out of having a mediocre year for him – one of those 30 home run seasons like he had for the Yankees from 2008 to 2010 before his hip injury.

But then, no member of the Yankees this year will have hit 30 home runs or driven in 100 runs.

They’re a sub-mediocre team, and you can kick around ARod for that.