A Bad Guy or just Caught in the Era?

By: Prad

He stands 98 hits shy of 3,000, 13 home runs shy from tying Willie Mays for 4th on the all time HR list, one RBI away from tying Stan Musial for 5th on the all time RBI list, and 53 runs shy of again, Stan Musial, 9th on the all time runs list. This is quite the resumé for a ball player. This is not even taking into account countless accolades: 3 MVP’s, 10 Silver Slugger’s, a couple Gold Gloves, and a fixture at the Midsummer Classic with 14 All-Star Game appearances. Although he has never hit 60 homers in a season, he has topped the 50 mark on three separate occasions. He is the youngest player ever to hit all the major home run milestones from 300 to 600. In my opinion, he is the second greatest five tool player in MLB history, only after Willie Mays. The lists and statistics alluding to his greatness are endless and he is yet to retire. He turned 38 a couple Saturdays ago, which should certainly begin to signal the end of a career, a great one at that. His legacy should be cemented forever as one of the greatest ever to play the game and his statistics attest to the fact that he should definitely have a plaque inscribed and awaiting in Cooperstown along with his other teammates, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter. Fans should begin to feel sad about his imminent departure from the sport.

Courtesy of ESPN
Courtesy of ESPN

Everything in that first paragraph holds true except for the last couple of sentences. He shouldn’t go to Cooperstown nor should he be missed by fans across the country. And another thing: Alex Rodriguez received the longest non-lifetime ban suspension in MLB history. His well documented ties to Biogenesis of America in Miami and his attempts at obstructing justice helped the commissioner lay down a stiff penalty (211 games, to the end of the 2014 season) against a player that Mr. Selig just doesn’t like. That added with Rodriguez’s own personal and character flaws makes him a person that, quite frankly people want to hate. All fans despise him including Yankees fans, his team doesn’t want to pay him that absurd contract they signed him to, and it was reported that some of his own teammates thought it would be better if he didn’t return to the clubhouse.

Courtesy of NY Daily News
Courtesy of NY Daily News

Unfortunately, an imperative question in his career will go unanswered: how many of those 647 homers, 2,902 hits, and 1950 RBI’s were attained in an earnest fashion? Perhaps none, but that’s probably not entirely accurate. We’ll never know how long he has been putting these substances in his body. He could’ve started in high school, but again, probably unlikely. During the summer between 10th and 11th grade, A-Rod improved his benchpress from 100 pounds to a little over 300. That’s in ONE summer. That’s a tremendous improvement for a 16 year old in a few months. It’s not for me to say what that means because I would just be speculating. However, Rodriguez has confirmed that he used performance-enhancing drugs throughout his tenure with the Texas Rangers (2001-2003). His usage of steroids most probably goes far beyond a few seasons. After the story in 2009 came out about his PED use in Texas, he denied using steroids during his years with the Seattle Mariners and even after, with the NY Yankees. A-Rod has lied so much, I’m sure he keeps a notebook or document full of the fabricated information he tells the public. His steroid use is not possibly gaugeable. It’s safe to say though that nobody knows for sure the limit if there even is one or regimen of his performance-enhancing drug use. Prior to a few years ago, baseball testing was very shaky and is still inaccurate today. Keep in mind that Ryan Braun got away with a failed test in February 2012 because apparently the testing wasn’t handled properly.

Courtesy of The Nation
Courtesy of The Nation

His personal life has been well reported by the tabloids ever since he arrived in New York. His marriage dissolved when rumors surfaced about multiple extramarital affairs including with Madonna. Some say that his personal life could have had an adverse affect on his game, citing last postseason’s atrocious performance when he allegedly asked a ball boy to give a fan a baseball that asked for the fan’s number. Although his poor performance is a possible effect of his personal relationships, the biggest thing we can take away from this, is his lack of character and genuineness. His infidelity can be looked to as an alternate expression of his lying and cheating nature. Despite everyone calling him out on his flaws, he’s the best at putting a good face on things and trying to act innocent of any wrongdoing. This is what infuriates everybody that loves to hate him. If he owns up to his PED use and owns up to him being the reason for his marriage falling through, then people will begin to temperate their feelings of hatred towards him because he acknowledges his faults. But, as we all know, this is not the case.

Commissioner Bud Selig Courtesy of NY Daily News
Commissioner Bud Selig
Courtesy of NY Daily News

The past two decades and Commisioner Selig’s tenure have been clouded with complications pertaining to the use of PEDs like anabolic steroids, HGH, and testosterone. As a result, it has been dubbed the “Steroid Era”. Roger Maris’ single season home run record was broken in 1998 by two different users of steroids and then broken again in 2001 by another steroid user. Hank Aaron’s all time home run record is no longer the record because of steroids. Technically, steroid use wasn’t penalized when Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Barry Bonds juiced, but obviously heavily frowned upon.

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America has a history of not voting in users to the Hall of Fame. The all time home run hitter and the winner of the most Cy-Young Awards failed to make the Hall in their first attempts this year. The panel seems adamant about not letting athletes into Cooperstown who have been reported to have gained an unfair advantage when playing in the Majors. The BWAA is fine with voting nobody into Cooperstown this year, a batch that was highlighted by Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, as long as cheaters don’t gain admission into the Hall.

Baseball Hall of Fame Courtesy of Sports Fanatics
Baseball Hall of Fame
Courtesy of Sports Fanatics

These days, people doubt everything great in baseball including Miguel Cabrera’s Triple Crown and Chris Davis’ home run output. This will be the case for decades to come, if not longer. Sadly, because of people like Alex Rodriguez, honest people can’t do something special in the sport without any skeptics. The 500 home run club was considered one of the most exclusive groups in all of sports. However, the sudden influx of members raised concerns about PEDs and the club lost some of its appeal as well. 10 people made the once very exclusive club in a decade from 1999-2009. Only three of those people don’t have ties to PEDs, Frank Thomas, Jim Thome, and Ken Griffey Jr. Consequently, this elevation of offensive output by way of cheating has tainted the game of baseball forever. Commissioner Selig and his office have made tremendous strides in cleaning up the game and have worked tirelessly to bring the game back to a time where these worries weren’t prevalent. He has taken substantial measures that will ensure that PED users do get caught and penalized.

But, I hope the question still doesn’t linger about whether Rodriguez should be blamed for his use of performance-enhancing drugs or whether it’s just the era we live in? I’m 110% certain that Alex Rodriguez was well aware that he was cheating and gaining an unfair advantage when injecting a syringe and foreign substance into his body. He tarnished a once great reputation with his own wrongdoing and has negatively impacted baseball history. His legacy should be cemented as a cheat and an insincere member of both baseball and society, who should be used as an example to both athletes and all members of society that want to take the shortcut to success.