David Lennon David Lennon has been a staff writer for

David Lennon is an award-winning columnist and author who has been a staff writer at Newsday since 1991.

He was named one of the top 10 columnists in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors in 2014 and also took first place in that category for New York State that same year.

Lennon began covering baseball for Newsday as the Yankees' beat writer in 1995, the season the Bombers snapped a 14-year playoff drought by becoming the American League's first wild-card team. Two World Series rings later, Lennon left the Yankees' beat after the 1998 season, bounced between the Bronx and Shea for the next three years, then took over on the Mets for the demise of Bobby Valentine in 2002. He became Newsday's national baseball writer in 2012.

Lennon also is a Hall of Fame voter, a former Chairman of the New York Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America and co-author of "The Great New York Sports Debate."
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TAMPA, Fla.

When Alex Rod riguez officially announced his retirement during Tuesday’s news conference at Steinbrenner Field, two thoughts came to mind.

First, we can’t believe he’s decided to call it quits only four home runs shy of 700.

And second, it’s time to start A-Rod’s clock for Cooperstown.

So what’s more surprising? That Rodriguez chose to take a pass on becoming the fourth member of the 700 club? Or that we’re even suggesting he has a shot at the Hall of Fame?

We’re guessing the latter.

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A-Rod might have needed only a few good weeks to hit those four homers, and we’re betting some team would have taken him on board at some point during the upcoming season, but he made the right call to stay in Hal Steinbrenner’s good graces.

As Special Adviser to the Managing General Partner — you can look it up in the media guide — he will continue to have Steinbrenner’s ear, and who knows where that eventually might lead.

Could a spot in Monument Park really be that far behind?

Maybe not, if Rodriguez is able to ride the growing undercurrent of support for fellow PED-tainted Hall of Fame candidates Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, each of whom made a significant gain in the voting this year. Midway through their 10-year window of eligibility, Clemens (54.1 percent) and Bonds (53.8) are in pretty good shape as they climb toward the 75 percent needed. Only two candidates in the past 25 years have made it this far with more than 50 percent of the vote from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and not been inducted: Jack Morris and Lee Smith.

So now let’s circle back to Rod riguez, who has slam-dunk credentials for the Hall — just like Clemens and Bonds — but also more damning PED baggage than those two. A record one-year suspension from the game doesn’t look so hot on a candidate’s resume. But that’s already three years in the rearview mirror, with another five to go before the BBWAA electorate gets to consider him.

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And where do voters draw the line? At the time Rodriguez first admitted to using PEDs, during a three-year period that ran from 2001-03, or when Bud Selig issued the Biogenesis suspension to ban him for the 2014 season?

Either way, he has been doing some convincing legacy rehab lately with the Yankees, including this past week’s camp visit as a guest instructor, which is why we posed the question to him about his future chances for a plaque in Cooperstown.

Is it something that Rodriguez has been thinking about now that he’s retired?

“Everyone’s dream is to end up in the Hall of Fame,” he said. “Obviously I have a unique situation and I don’t have a vote, unfortunately. But I think that with everything I’ve been through, I have an opportunity to be a Hall of Famer in other things — to be a Hall of Fame father, and give back to the sport, the baseball community, and do things the right way.”

He’s clearly a different A-Rod now. Nothing like the one who once sued the Yankees and verbally firebombed the commissioner’s office during his appeal hearings. But with Bud Selig retired, Rodriguez has patched things up with commissioner Rob Manfred — his chief adversary during the Biogenesis investigation — and could not be more welcome around the Yankees’ ownership.

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Plus, if you want to count his star turn during the Fox baseball broadcasts, sitting alongside the banned-for-life Pete Rose, the A-Rod redemption tour has been full steam ahead for quite a while.

With the BBWAA warming to Clemens and Bonds, is A-Rod’s candidacy all that different? The first two benefited from playing before MLB instituted its PED testing program as well as the strict penalty guidelines that have been put in place during the past decade. As a BBWAA member, I do vote for Clemens and Bonds, but A-Rod’s year-long suspension is a trickier hurdle to overcome.

Fortunately, the consequences of that ballot debate still are five years away. When Rodriguez was asked if the Clemens/Bonds gains made him more optimistic about his own chances, he again gave a political answer.

“Look, all I can say, it’s every kid’s dream to end up in the Hall of Fame,” he said. “After that, I haven’t given it too much thought. I tell you what, I love the game, I love what I’m doing. And the time I’m spending with the [Yankees’] kids, to me, is pretty awesome.”