Bunch: Friday’s stadium ceremony will be awkward, but provides opportunities

Matthew Bunch

When I heard the allegations of and subsequent admission of Alex Rodriguez’s steroid use last weekend, my first thought wasn’t about the damage it did to baseball. It wasn’t even about what A-Rod will do now, especially facing the New York media for the next nine years.

My first thought? “Why couldn’t it have come out next week?”

Why next week? Because at that point, the letters would be drilled into our renovated stadium, which will soon be named “Mark Light Field at Alex Rodriguez Park.”

Our beloved university seems to stumble into the best PR, doesn’t it?

From the moment the story started – when Sports Illustrated reporter Selena Roberts confronted Rodriguez in the Hecht Athletic Center with the allegations – UM has inexplicably been caught in the fray. A-Rod claimed that Roberts had to be removed from campus. UMPD declined to comment when asked.

His first public appearance since his admission will be at the preseason baseball banquet at the Light tomorrow night, where the official renaming will take place.

The sad thing is that Friday night was supposed to be a triumphant moment for Miami baseball. The most dominant program UM has to offer had always toiled in the shadow of football.

But Friday was supposed to be when baseball was the proverbial “big man on campus.” The game’s best player will return to the stadium he could have played at in college and see what his $3.9 million investment spawned.

Instead, it’s sure to be a media circus (paparazzi have been seen around campus already), with all the attention for all the wrong reasons.

Should UM return the money and remove his name? I don’t think that measure is necessary.

Should Rodriguez address the controversy Friday night? Absolutely.

While I doubt he will, he has a unique opportunity.

This is a man who is looking to rehabilitate his image, and what better way to do so than to start by addressing baseball’s stars of tomorrow and telling the truth about what steroids can do to you, personally and professionally?

While Rodriguez has had his share of faults over the years, culminating in this most recent shame, he’s done incredible things to promote the game and support the people of South Florida. Hell, he never took one class here, still he gave his money to the baseball program, just out of love for UM.

If Jim Morris vouches for him, he must not be too bad.

It’s an awkward position to be in, and it’s too late for A-Rod or UM to extricate themselves from the morass. What should be done is to make the best out of a bad situation, and make Friday night a serious night instead of another chance for A-Rod to push his troubles under the rug.