Since being FBI-investigated into submission by MLB, Alex Rodriguez has been an easy target.
I remember when ESPN’s Ian O’Connor wrote a 2013 article entitled “The greatest (cheat and liar) ever?” It was around the time when A-Rod’s affiliation with Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch surfaced.
“Rodriguez has brought $275 million worth of pain and suffering to the New York Yankees, and then some. His chance to go down as the greatest of them all -- the greatest cheat and liar the game has known -- just improved dramatically with the new allegations of performance-enhancing drug use published in the Miami New Times.”'
O'Connor said, "If the allegations against A-Rod are true, he should take his bat and go home."
Harsh stuff and very arbitrary considering the trailer load of superstar juice crew MLB members. A-Rod was painted as a disgrace when he's no more of a disgrace than admitted PED user and beloved Yankees hurler Any Pettitte.
To my recollection, the “disgraced” baller shared some of the “tainted” accolades he’s amassed over his 20-year career (a .299 batting average, 654 home runs, 1,969 RBI and 2,939 hits. He is a 14-time All-Star and has won three AL MVP’s, 10 Silver Slugger Awards, and two Gold Glove Awards) with the Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers and Yankees, even helping the Bronx Bombers win their only WS title in the past 15 seasons in 2009. He wasn't stealing money.
MLB and most baseball media have made him the villainous focus of a witch hunt that on one hand washed the game of its PED epidemic, but also destroyed a generation of legends and basically rendered an entire era of stats and records meaningless ( save for a few players who are somehow able to avoid the stain on their illustrious careers. Let’s just call dudes like Craig Biggio and
Every story needs a hero and a bad guy. Former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig “AKA” The Puppet Master made sure he came up on the winning end of the situation. After allowing PEDs to run rampant in his sport and benefitting from it, Selig flipped the script and went J Edgar Hoover on the players who built his game into a multi-billion dollar industry.
A-Rod caught the most flack. For one, he was still playing and pursuing “sacred” records. He also played on the hated Yankees and was a heartthrob in social stature and his well-documented past extramarital affairs with the likes of Madonna, plus his constant denial of using, made him an easy target for instigative radio dudes, talking TV heads and sensational print journalists.
As Barry Bonds’ career and pursuit of Hank Aaron’s coveted all-time homer record faded to black and A-Rod became the only living player with a shot at the crown, the lightening-Rod short stop quickly became the face of the PED Era. Though he never failed a test, he was an easy guy to lace with the longest suspension for PED use in MLB history.
Things such as leaving Bonds out of the Hall of Fame is all window dressing and part of a collusion between the BBWA and MLB brass to rewrite, dictate and twist history to fit their fairytale desires. It’s a way of showing that they are fighting back against cheating in the game.
The Yankees, embarrassed by the entire situation and still financially obligated to pay A-Rod $61 million (the GNP of a few small countries), tried to get out of paying the shortstop last season. The battle between the two parties got downright malicious at times. It was easy to see what national sports journalists were on the Yankees’ payroll as most folks blamed Rodriguez for not putting his head in the sand and walking away from the game. Other folks were hoping he would just retire in shame.
When the Yankees gave Chase Headley a 4-year, $52 million deal to play third base, it was the supposed nail in the coffin for A-Rod as a viable contributor. “If you have to pay him, bury him on the bench for the next few years,” A few “respected” sports radio cats suggested.
All of these guys must have underestimated the fight in Alex Rodriguez as well. Playing third base for the first time since arriving in Florida, Rodriguez went 1-for-2 at the plate on Sunday before leaving in the sixth inning with the Yankees leading the Washington Nationals, 2-1.
He got his first double of the spring in the second inning extra-base hit of the spring in the second inning. So we’ve already seen two things from A-Rod that a lot of heads figured and hoped we wouldn’t. A-Rod is flashing leather and competing at the plate.
It seems strange that they would sleep on dude, considering he fought an inevitably unwinnable battle with MLB baseball to the end and didn’t concede a thing until his feet were hanging off the edge of a cliff and there was no safety net below.
Don’t sleep on A-Rod. Even if he is pushing 40 with two surgically repaired hips and has only played in 44 games the past two seasons.
A week into MLB Spring Training, he’s no forgotten man. He’s on the Yankees. He’s playing some third base and DH’ing. They say he’s not an everyday defender anymore, but the way he’s flashed leather this spring says otherwise. He’s also worked with pitchers and fielders at first base this spring. He may not be the 50 homer, 140 RBI-guy he was back in his steroid-enhanced 90s and early 2000s run, but he looks strong, mobile, productive and eager to just fit in, so far.
You know he’ll be a leader in the clubhouse because young ballers have always looked up to the Dominican King of Swing. He’s been the standard for power hitters and all-around studs for the past two decades. He’s also proving that when it’s all said and done, he has a genuine love for the game and he’s going to play baseball for as long as he’s allowed, regardless of his age or supposed erosion of skills.
In addition, Yankees fans aren’t booing him or talking about past PED use. He’s actually getting cheers and support. The fans never forget greatness in any form, even if MLB does.
If A-Rod can help the Yankees win, he will be judged and appreciated for his current contributions. Not past soap opera drama. With guys who have actually failed PED tests such as Ryan Braun allowed to play baseball and not be constantly reminded of his tainted MVP awards, A-Rod should be allowed to do the same. Don’t underestimate his competitiveness. Don’t underestimate the fact that he’s probably taken more swings in the past year than he has since he was a hungry high school phenom out of Miami.
So those haters who hoped A –Rod would kind of just go away are feeling sick right now because he’s proving already that he’s here to stay, so get comfortable treating him like a human being again. He’s paid his dues.