Near the end of the 2002 season, Mel Antonen and Cesar Brioso of USA Today evaluated Alex Rodriguez's second season with the Texas Rangers. Rodriguez became only the fifth player to hit at least 50 home runs in consecutive seasons, joining Babe Ruth, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Ken Griffey Jr.
A-Rod led the league with 57 home runs, 142 RBI and 389 total bases. He batted .300/.392/.623.
Antonen and Brioso wrote that one of Rodriguez's strengths was his professionalism.
"He hasn't let the pressure of having the richest contract in sports history or the frustration of playing on terrible teams keep him from showing he might be the best player in baseball," they said.
In his last season with the Rangers, Rodriguez had an excellent season, although it was not quite as great as his first two with Texas. He hit "only" 47 home runs—which, again, was the best in the league—and batted .298/.396/.600.
Antonen and Brioso didn't know that A-Rod actually had allowed the pressure of his huge Rangers contract get to him. Neither did anyone else.
But the baseball scribes were right about Rodriguez being a true professional. He had to tell the truth about his tenure with the Rangers.
Rodriguez revealed in Feb. 2009 that he had used performance-enhancing substances from 2001 to 2003 while with the Rangers.
"I did take a banned substance, and for that, I'm very sorry," Rodriguez said (via ABC News). "I was young, I was stupid, I was naive. I wanted to prove to everyone I was worth being one of the greatest players of all time."
It is probable that Antonen and Brioso have forgiven A-Rod. After all, in America, almost any transgressor is forgiven if he is remorseful.
There is no doubt that Rodriguez is one of the all-time greats. He has done it all, including helping the 2009 New York Yankees win the World Series.
The most important thing is that Rodriguez made a terrible decision, but he was professional enough to acknowledge his transgression.
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