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"Long is the way...

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And hard, that out of hell leads up to light."

That's how it felt in 2001 and 2004. The way those seasons ended were the equivalent of baseball hell. An error and bloop single in the ninth inning of game seven in 2001... and of course the (in)famous and unprecedented collapse in 2004.

Because of those tragedies, the recently ended drought (eight years to the day, in fact, since game seven in 2001) seemed about twice as long.

Even the additions of Jason Giambi, Mike Mussina, Hideki Matsui, Gary Sheffield and Alex Rodriguez weren't enough. We had the best player in baseball and couldn't get it done. He couldn't get it done.

Then it got even worse for Alex. He had a messy divorce, hooked up with a crazy woman, and got exposed as a cheater. On top of all that, he received news that he might miss the whole 2009 season with a hip injury. It was his own personal hell.

No one could have predicted at the time, but that sequence of events was probably the best thing to ever happen to him.

When his PED usage came out and hip surgery sidelined him for a month, it seemingly allowed him to become 'care-free.' An A-Rod that once seemed to care what the fans and media thought of him all of a sudden didn't. Frankly, he seemed happier and more comfortable with himself. Whether that actually made him a better ballplayer is debatable, but from my own experience, I always work better when I feel comfortable - don't you?

As far as Kate Hudson goes, she seems like a sane, down-to-earth woman. A far cry from Madonna. (Quick aside: how cool would it be to have Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn as parents-in-law?)

The hip surgery went far better than anyone could have expected. A-Rod missed one month and was still able to compile 30 homers and 100 RBI. He even stole 14 bases! In fact, the surgery went so well that the additional surgery that was to happen this off-season may not be needed at all.

So thank you Selena Roberts, thank you Kate Hudson, and thank you Dr. Marc Philippon. We now live in a world where Alex Rodriguez has won the World Series.