For the first time in a career spanning across fifteen seasons, New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez finally got it right. And for the first time, I can admit that I’m impressed with A-Rod.
Yes, you heard that right.
Say what you want about baseball’s highest paid player, as putting numbers and accolades aside, it’s safe to say that A-Rod has been a borderline train wreck.
If you think that’s a tad bit extreme, it’s all about how you measure a person. Look at the past and what we know about Alex to date… often not hitting in clutch situations, not producing in the playoffs, opting out of his contract at an inopportune time (a.k.a. during Game 4 of the World Series), illegally smacking the ball out of a rival player’s hand during a key moment in a playoff game, being out gallivanting with Madonna when married, and to add the cherry on top of this drama sundae—dropping a few little white lies to Katie Couric in an interview last year.
And oh yeah, admitting recently that he did in fact use performance enhancing drugs while playing with the Texas Rangers from 2001-2003.
Shall the list go on? Nah, you get the point.
Listen, the guy has certainly had his moments, and he’s had his home runs – but the majority of fans out there would give up a dozen solo shots for one late inning RBI-double in an ALCS clincher.
New York fans won’t be alone in piping in on the matter – and for good reason.
Many will instead jump at the facts that Rodriguez’s career postseason average (.279) is nearly thirty points below his career regular season average. Many will point out his 38 strikeouts in 147 postseason at-bats and how his team is 3-7 in ten postseason series.
But through all the turmoil, all the drama, all the additional baggage that one wouldn’t expect from an individual who is supposed to represent the game well as its best player… this time, A-Rod finally got it right.
Rodriguez used performance enhancing drugs for three seasons with the Texas Rangers, and you know what? I forgive the guy.
Why? Because he fessed up—and he fessed up quickly.
“I did take a banned substance. And for that, I am very sorry and deeply regretful,” Rodriguez said in a recent interview with ESPN’s Peter Gammons.
Many out there are forgiving people. Many ironically believe in the “three strikes and you’re out” concept.
Bear in mind that it’s possible that Texas fans will be tough to please when A-Rod first visits Arlington in 2009. It’s likely that the ruthless Boston fans will boo Rodriguez mercifully—and we’re talking much more than Philly fans booed Santa.
But for the most part, people will forgive him, because he manned up. He was professional and fairly upfront during his interview with Gammons.
Whether we like it or not, the Steroid Era is splitting into two groups—the “forgiven” and the “unforgiven”. While players like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Miguel Tejada have dodged the steroid topic in an “unforgiven” manner, guys like Andy Pettitte, Brian Roberts, and Jason Giambi have been up front, sincere, and apologetic regarding their taking of illegal substances. And that’s where A-Rod should be too, on the “forgiven” side of the fence.
Ever since the Barry BALCO drama emerged, the baseball world has been looking to Rodriguez desperately, hoping that he can save the game’s biggest record from being accompanied by an asterisk. And now A-Rod himself is just another asterisk.
So what’s next for baseball? We as fans can’t look to the players to save us anymore. The game’s best player couldn’t save us – and no one else will either. We’re just going to have to wait it out, and as fans I think we are doing just that.
The end will likely have to wait until the last Steroid Era star is no longer eligible to enter the Hall of Fame, where only the true home run kings like Hank and the Babe currently stand tall.
And that’s going to take baby steps, my friend. Or should we instead say “Babe” steps?
Either way, I forgive you Alex—not just because the majority of the game did the same as you, but because you manned up and apologized—and in its own twisted way, the game is better because of it.