Of course this day couldn’t be just about Alex Rodriguez helping the Yankees overcome Mariano Rivera’s third straight blow-up going deep with career homer No. 648 when many folks thought he would be forever stuck at 647 because that isn’t how A-Rod rolls.

As always this reality show features subplots.

Before A-Rod tagged Detroit stud Justin Verlander for a solo homer and RBI single and before Brett Gardner’s ninth-inning homer gave the Yankees a 5-4 victory over the dangerous Tigers Don Hooton stood on the Yankee Stadium field and championed his cause: Stopping youngsters from taking illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

Hooton and A-Rod never crossed paths. They haven’t for a while now.

“I’m glad I didn’t run into him on the field” Hooton said during the top of the first inning from a Stadium suite. “I kind of was prepared for that. I thought that would have been awkward. But it didn’t happen. ... When he’s ready hopefully he’ll call.”

Asked afterward whether he knew of Hooton’s attendance at the game A-Rod said “Oh no. I love Don.”

I’ve made clear particularly over the last month or so that I think we get too worked up over professional athletes who break the rules to get better. I also have disagreed on specific points with the personable Hooton whose Taylor Hooton Foundation is named after his son who committed suicide in 2003 at age 17. Don Hooton believes steroid usage contributed to his son’s death.

For crying out loud though it requires a special brand of gall — of denial? — to speak to youngsters about not using illegal PEDs as you are still using illegal PEDs. That may very well have been the case for A-Rod who is fighting his 211-game suspension from Major League Baseball that alleges the 38-year-old cheated “over the course of multiple years.” Hooton and A-Rod joined forces following Rodriguez’s 2009 confession of his earlier illegal PED involvement and A-Rod spoke at many schools about his experiences and his “change.”