Even though many baseball fans have hated A Rod over the last few years because of several different reasons, I have always managed to like him.
I thought he was going to end up as the greatest player in the history of baseball. He could do everything. He hit for average, for power, he could run and he could defend (when he was a shortstop).
Despite all of his post-season failures, I still thought he was the best player in the league. Even though he had a messy divorce and there were several reports of teammates not liking him or that he was a fraud, I still rooted for him.
I always thought however that with all of the controversy around him, that he was clean and that he never took performance enhancing drugs because it didn't seem like he needed to.
Today, I woke up and turned on my TV and saw the breaking news on ESPN that SI.com reported that Rodriguez had tested positive for anabolic steroids in 2003 as a member of the Texas Rangers. He won the AL MVP award that season as he hit .298 along with 48 home runs, which led the league.
My first reaction was that I was shocked. I couldn't believe that he was another one of the great players of this generation that had taken steroids. When Barry Bonds was accused of steroids and testing positive, I believed it because no one has their best power seasons in their late 30's and no one's head size grows unless they took performance enhancing drugs. So I totally believed that Bonds took steroids.
Then, a couple of years ago, Roger Clemens was the next legend to be accused of taking steroids. I again wasn't surprised by this as no pitcher, especially a power pitcher, was still dominant in their late 30's and early 40's as Clemens was.
I mean the guy won the Cy Young Award at the age of 41 and had a season with an E.R.A. below 2 at the age of 42. No one in the history of the sport had ever been able to do that.
Now, A Rod, the best and highest paid player in the sport was being accused. Even though I was shocked in the morning, I have now believed the allegations as I did for both Bonds and Clemens.
Not one player accused has ended up innocent and I don't think this case is going to be any different. The sad part about all three cases is that none of them really needed to do steroids.
First, Bonds was probably the best player in baseball in the 1990's with the exception of Ken Griffey Jr. Many people have forgotten that he had won three MVP awards in the early and mid 90's with the Pirates before all of the steroids.
He also could do everything on the field. He hit for average, for power, was one of the best basestealers in the league and won multiple Gold Glove awards in left field.
While Bonds would have never come close to breaking the home run record, he still would've been a first ballot Hall of Famer, arguably one of the ten best players to ever play the game and the only player ever to have hit 500 home runs and have 500 stolen bases.
His legacy would've been as the best everyday player of this generation, especially with all of the injury problems that Griffey Jr. had to deal with since the beginning of the decade.
However, he became jealous of McGuire and Sosa as they were getting all of the headlines and endorsements, so he took steroids, got much bigger and started doing things that had never been done before. It was too obvious however as everyone finally started accusing him when he was approaching the home run record.
Next, Clemens would've undoubtedly been considered the best pitcher of this generation, even ahead of Randy Johnson and Maddux had it not been for steroids.
I believe that five of his record seven Cy Young Awards were legit and that he still would've had 300 wins and 4,000 strikeouts without the steroids. He would've ended up being one of the five greatest pitchers of all time and the best in the last 25 years.
However, now his legacy is that of a cheater, both on the field and off the field. Not only is he considered a baseball cheater, but he is also considered a cheater as he allegedly had an affair with country singer Mindy McCready.
He had the world and now look at him. He will either end up in jail on perjury charges or he and his family will forever be afraid to go in public because of his tarnished name.
Now, A Rod is the next legend alleged to have used steroids. He was already not liked by several people as they thought he only cared about money and not winning, because of his high profile divorce, because of the fact that he was photographed cheating on his wife, his relationship with Madonna and the perception that he tried to upstage the World Series by opting out of his contract during a World Series game.
However, as much as people didn't like him, they always considered him to be clean of all of the steroid controversy that had taken the best hitter and pitcher of the generation's legacies away and tarnished them. Now, he is just like Bonds and Clemens. He is another legend who didn't need to do steroids, but for some reason did.
How many homers do you think the steroids helped him. At the most it helped him hit 25-30 more in his years with the Rangers. He still would have a great chance of breaking Bonds' home run record, which would've severely helped his public perception as he would've been the person who had taken Bonds, the known cheater, away from the leader of the most important stat in American sports; the all time home run list.
While these three legends had nothing to really gain from doing performance enhancing drugs, McGwire and Sosa did as they needed to hit a lot of home runs to become hall of fame players as neither one of them were great all around players like Rodriguez and Bonds were.
Overall, these three legends' legacies will never be the same. Clemens went from the best and most dominant pitcher of this generation to a cheater on and off the field. Bonds went from one of the most all around and gifted players ever and the only member of the 500/500 club to a cheater and a jerk.
Rodriguez went from the player who was going to possibly end up as the best player to ever play the game to a cheater, a jerk and a choker in the postseason.
All of these legacies being tarnished has made me appreciate my all time favorite player even more and that is Griffey Jr. who had every excuse to do steroids as they would've helped him heal quicker from all of his injuries. However, he had integrity, unlike Bonds, Clemens or Rodriguez and that to me is the most important quality of an athlete.
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