Throughout his career Alex Rodriguez has been both villain and hero. To his haters, he’s the worst thing that has happened to the game they love, but to his supporters he is the poster child for mistakes and second chances.
While in Seattle, he was the young stud that was to help Ken Griffey Jr bring a World Series title to Mariners fans. His first two seasons were just spot duty but by his third full season, which happened to be his first full, he exploded on the scene at. In 1996 A-Rod hit 36 HRs, 123 RBIs with a .358 average, yet he was just hitting the legal drinking age. The future was bright for the kid but it would turn dark soon enough.
After seven seasons in Seattle, Rodriguez took his talents and later to find out baggage to Texas where his name was mention along the same line as Derek Jeter’s and Nomar Garciaparra as the best SS’s in the game. To be honest he crushed both, stat wise, but the difference was they were on winning teams. The Yankees big market and World Series dominance made him a household name and Garciaparra, a division rival of Jeter put him in the spotlight but A-Rod had a following of his own. As a Ranger he posted, 156 HRs, 395 RBIs with an average of.310.
We had to see this coming, it was only right if you were an A-Rod or Yankee fan. It was in the cards they had to team up. This is where I give respect to Rodriguez. He wanted to be a Yankee, he did all he could for the Mariners and Rangers but he didn’t have that team behind him that could elevate him to the status of Jeter. In 2004 he became a Yankee, but the issue at hand was his position. Throughout his career he has played SS but the Yankees had the Captain, forcing A-Rod to make a decision that in the long run may have prolonged his career. Rodriguez made the move over to third base, switching numbers as well, as his normal #3 belonged to the great Babe Ruth. While his haters criticize every move he makes they tend to forget or get amnesia when it comes to the sacrifices he made when joining the Yankees. It was a cultural change, a number change and a position change all before he took his first bating practice.
The mention of steroids hasn’t surfaced yet for him but the main hate headed his way was due to money. The Rangers signed him to a deal that was unheard of at the time, paying him $22M per season. Was he worth that? Well looking back that may have been a bargain considering what players with half his ability are making today. Rodriguez’s career with the Yanks has been a love/hate with the NY fans. Everyone supporting pinstripes thought another 4-5 championships, they expected Rodriguez to be the savior but still showing loyalty to Jeter.
There was a storm brewing.
The Yankees were playoff mainstays but new territory for Rodriguez. Playing for Texas and Seattle is a big difference than playing in New York. The world is watching as the Yanks are truly America’s team, the most hated/loved franchise in all of sports. Now, it was time for Rodriguez to earn that $22M. He failed, and failed again as the whispers of why they signed him began to get louder. In 2009 came the breakthrough and heartache all in the same season. It was reported that A-Rod had taken a banned substance as early back at 2003 while with the Rangers, he denied it but the damage was done to his legacy. But there was still a season to be played at that year he finally erased his demons and helped the Yankees to a championship but the storm had officially hit.
Did he take them? He said no at first but the baseball world was ready to crucify him, all except the Yankee fans, they either forgave or forgot, hell they just won a World Series. When the struggling continued Rodriguez decide to come clean and the hate train accepted applications for new band-wagoners. MLB suspended him and he became the face of everything that is wrong with baseball, but…
Is the hate really worth it?
Why is he hated so much? He didn’t demand that large contract. He didn’t demand a Yankee trade, he didn’t demand that Jeter be moved from his position. Those were not his choices, they were given to him, he just accepted. I get the hate from the steroids but why has everyone been so quick to forget the Sammy Sosa’s, Mark McGuire’s, and Andy Petite’s of the world but blast everything on his shoulders?
Simple, he didn’t run away from it. He could have easily been like the rest of them and hid but A-Rod has faced all the criticism from his contract, struggles and HGH fallout and took it on the chin. But the haters can’t respect that, the same haters that believe Pete Rose should be in the Hall for cheating the game or still consider McGuire, Bonds and Sosa as kings. McGuire and Bonds hold baseball jobs with current winning teams but it’s a smack in the face that A-Rod is still playing?
He has played, thrived and that pisses people off. We talk about respect and what to do if you make a mistake. He made one, got caught, apologized and dealt with the outrage like a man. There is no grey area with A-Rod, you either love or hate him.