The Daily Jolt is a dose of baseball reality every weekday morning.
The business of baseball begins Wednesday for the Yankees. Remember baseball? The most expensive, most highly scrutinized, most overhauled team in the major leagues will take the field for their first full-squad workout. That workout will include Alex Rodriguez.
He will have to answer questions about his performance-enhancing drug use for the rest of his career and pundits and baseball scribes will debate his legacy and Hall of Fame credentials far beyond that. Rodriguez can't worry about that now. In the short-term, his mission is to perform on the field, where the Yankees are expected to end their eight-year title drought. While reporters seek out his mysterious cousin and search for every other skeleton in his closet, he merely has to help deliver a World Series title.
Rodriguez is extraordinarily sensitive to how the public perceives him. If you didn't know that before this scandal erupted, you must now after he's endured two grueling interviews flanked by a team of handlers, including an operative who worked for John McCain during his presidential campaign last year.
Given that sensitivity, it's fair to wonder if his performance will suffer at the plate in 2009. Many have speculated that his image consciousness is at the root of why he's become a bit of a shrinking violet on the October stage this decade.