Alex Rodriguez Could Have Been the New York Yankees Hero to Beat Willie Mays

Harold FriendChief Writer IJuly 17, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 16:  Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees reacts after striking out against the Toronto Blue Jays during their game on July 16, 2012 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

I have always rooted for Mickey Mantle. To me, he was better than Willie Mays, but for many different reasons, Mays finished ahead Mantle in home runs, runs batted in and batting average.

I supported Mantle as the greatest player that I had ever seen. It was a losing situation. Finally, after more than 35 years, I had my chance.  Now I had a Yankee who would surpass Mays.

Mantle's injuries no longer would have to be mentioned. His great top seasons would no longer be cited. The Yankees were getting a player who would not have his totals affected by injuries.

In 2004, I had a player who would beat Mays in career home runs, drive in more runs and finish with a better batting average. Then I was destroyed.

Alex Rodriguez claims that he used steroids when he played for the Texas Rangers from 2001-03. He couldn't withstand the pressure from his $252 million contract. In 2009, Rodriguez admitted he had help.

"When I arrived in Texas in 2001, I felt an enormous amount of pressure. I felt like I had all the weight of the world on top of me and I needed to perform and perform at a high level every day."

Rodriguez claimed that he stopped using performance-enhancing drugs after he left the Rangers.

A-Rod hit his 643rd career home run this past Sunday. He is now 17 home runs within Mays’ total, which he might reach this season.

In his three years in Texas, Rodriguez hit 52, 57 and 47 home runs. He led the league in home runs each of those years. Now those home-run championships must be questioned. It is so upsetting when A-Rod's three home run championships are compared to Mantle's four home run championships (1955, 1956, 1958 and 1960).

It no longer matters that A-Rod is going to hit more home runs than Mays. Most fans, including Yankees fans, will not believe that Rodriguez passed Mays fairly.

Oh, I can argue that once A-Rod hits his career total of 700 home runs he will have more than Mays. After all, he said that he used performance-enhancing drugs only three seasons. The problem is that we really will never know if A-Rod stopped using after 2004.

Each of us must make our own decisions. Some fans think that steroids should not affect a player’s achievement. Most fans disagree. Players who cheated should pay the price.

Rodriguez made a terrible mistake. It will cost him forever.