A-Rod: Reviled or Revealed? A Case For One of the Greats

2013 Major League Baseball Season

The walls are closing in on Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez. In the wake of the Biogenesis scandal, Major League Baseball has targeted the superstar as the face of shame to the sport. Commissioner Bud Selig has offered a historic 211 game suspension that Rodriguez will fight until the bitter end. Better known as A-Rod for the majority of the past two decades, he has been a fixture in the sports world since he arrived as an 18 year old boy with the Seattle Mariners. When young and highly regarded athletes step on to the scene, many projections are made for their careers. It is rare, if ever, that they live up to these expectations. The fantasy was no different for Rodriguez when he broke into baseball as a shortstop of Dominican decent by way of Miami. He had the looks, he had the game, and he seemingly had the world in the palm of his hand. The fascination for him has never waned, even as his popularity has. You can pinpoint the beginning of the hatred he has endured to the moment he signed the most lucrative contract in sports history, when at just 25 years of age he signed as a free agent with the Texas Rangers for $252 Million. As outrageous as the amount sounded at the time, his numbers justified the rationale of Rangers management; lock up the greatest player to come along in generations for the next decade. While many jumped on the hate wagon solely for the perceived notion of his greed, A-Rod continued to shine on the baseball diamond. Who could blame him though for cashing in on the God given talent that he worked so hard on to become the best in the Show. He was criticized for crippling his team’s ability to sign other players to help balance the organization. With so much money tied up in one player, the Rangers did not appear to be able to offer contracts to other quality players, most notably pitchers. It was not as if A-Rod walked into, then owner, Tom Hicks office wearing a ski mask and demanding a Kings fortune, it was offered to him. Four years later a new reason to hate A-Rod surfaced when he was traded to the New York Yankees, who are the most globally recognized brand in all of sports. Still shy of 30 years old, he was in his prime and added to the most successful team while they were in the midst of making multiple playoff appearances. From the inside it could not have seemed much better: the greatest player, with the greatest contract, now playing for the greatest franchise. But on the outside it could not have been much worse. Paired alongside the darling of Major League Baseball, shortstop Derek Jeter, A-Rod was not welcome with open arms amongst Yankee fanatics. He was deemed an outsider, not a “true Yankee”, and a hindrance to the city of New York. A drawn out divorce in the media, admittance to using performance enhancing drugs while with the Texas Rangers, and numerous public relation nightmares all helped to increase the steep angle of incline as his life snowballed downhill. In no way would I attempt to make the argument Alex Rodriguez is a saint, or deserving of forgiveness for his actions. I can though make an argument that he has been grossly misunderstood and perhaps we have played a large part in his downfall. It is often said that he desperately wants to be liked, yet is one of the most reviled public figures of all time. He is a polarizing individual, selfish in his ways and actions. However grand his numbers appear, they are hollow and did not do anything to help improve his team or teammates around him. All that can be said with some accuracy, but the problem I have is that no one can ever understand what it is like to be in his shoes. He did not ask to be given such immense talent, he was born with it. You can point to many things he has done wrong, and just as easily you can point out how many things he has done right. It is a matter of public perception and likeability. He lost the likeability contest long before we learned anything of his performance enhancing drug use. A lot can be said that the reason he used them at all was to maintain his greatness in an effort to be loved. I do believe he should be penalized for his actions, but I also feel it is unfair for the world, and MLB, to make him the face of the problem. These last days he is on the field, while he appeals the suspension, are likely to be the last we ever see him play professional baseball. This is his swan song and he should be allowed to go out with some dignity for all he has done over the past 20 years. The other players indicted in the Biogenesis scandal have been able to quietly hide in the large shadow he has created. He has more than likely squandered his chances of being inducted into the Hall of Fame. He is not the first professional athlete to use performance enhancing drugs, and he certainly will not be the last. Can anyone really say with any certainty who is clean and who is under the influence? A-Rod himself has never failed a drug test, so perhaps his admittance could be seen as admirable. Twenty years at anything is very long, and does anyone believe he was cheating the entire time? The latest scandal to impact sports did nothing to reveal something new about Rodriguez it just gave more reason for him to be reviled. Fair or not, he has still earned more than to go out disgraced.
arod-cigar

Alex Rodriguez Career Statistics (thru 8/7/13),
All Hall of Fame Credentials that may never see Cooperstown:

2,524 Games Played / 2,901 Hits
.300 Batting Average / 647 Home Runs
1,950 Runs Batted In / 1,898 Runs Scored

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