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A-Rod: Yankees' bopper is the perfect antidote to Bonds

NEW YORK - Throughout world history, miracle cures have been found in the unlikeliest of places. Penicillin, of course, started out as bread mold. More recently, some genius went into a lab trying to cure high blood pressure and came out with Viagra.

NEW YORK - Throughout world history, miracle cures have been found in the unlikeliest of places. Penicillin, of course, started out as bread mold. More recently, some genius went into a lab trying to cure high blood pressure and came out with Viagra.

Right now, baseball is plagued with an ailment called Barry Bonds, which has been spreading slowly for 20 years and now threatens to permanently infect the game's record book by engulfing two of its most hallowed records.

For that, there is a cure, perhaps the unlikeliest of all. What baseball needs is a shot of A-Rod.

A few months ago, the guy was an eighth-pace hitter, a target, a punchline. Now, he might just be the game's best hope of saving it from the coming epidemic of Bonds.

There could be no better way to obscure this game of shadows than to have Alex Rodriguez wipe out Bonds in the same season that Bonds wipes out Hank Aaron.

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Let Bonds have 756. We all know at least 200 of them aren't worth the script pad they were written on, and besides, maybe someday Rodriguez will correct that one, too.

For now, let's see him chase down and catch both Bonds and Mark McGwire in a true Summer of Justice.

This is probably too much to wish for and certainly a lot better than baseball deserves, because Bud Selig is as complicit as Bonds, McGwire, Victor Conte, Greg Anderson and Donald Fehr in the drug-tainted mess the game has become.

Real justice, of course, would be for Selig to be forced to pose for a mug shot with Bonds at home plate on the occasion of No. 756, two felons at the scene of their crime amidst millions of witnesses.

But we could settle for a Summer of A-Rod, in which one (apparently clean) man's chase for the single-season home run record makes us forget all about Bonds, Selig and their scores of co-conspirators.

(Of course, if - heaven forbid! - Rodriguez is some day found to have indulged in a little chemical hanky-panky, then we will root for another, "cleaner" man to come in and right his wrongs.)

Unlike Bonds, whose pursuit of Hank Aaron is about as joyful as the Feds pursuit of Tony Soprano, A-Rod is a guy you could root for even if you can't quite figure him out.

His neuroses and insecurities are as obvious as his talents. Vulnerable, hell yeah. Evil? Hell, no. Among the songs on his iPod are "Private Eyes" by Hall and Oates ("They're watching you, they see your every move") and Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot." Fire away.

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We can all sympathize with a guy like that, a guy who so obviously wants to be liked he will do everything but lick your hand. (Or, at least, Derek Jeter's). Tuesday, in violation of every known law of negotiation (as written by Scott Boras), Rodriguez declared, "I want to stay in New York, no matter what," when asked if he would exercise his much-discussed opt-out clause at the end of the season.

Notice he didn't say "I WILL stay in New York, no matter what," an important distinction.

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