Saying farewell to A-Rod is going to be some complicated business
On Wednesday Alex Rodriguez announced that he will be retiring upon the end of his contract which expires after the 2017 season. He will have played the game for three teams over 23 seasons and will be 42 years old. According to A-Rod, he’s done chasing records and knows it’s time to go home and a be a father to his children..
That’s a great thing for him, to know what his future holds. Yet, it leaves us with two seasons to decide what kind of legacy will he leave behind and question what his retirement season actually be like? How will the baseball community say farewell to such a polarizing player?
The fact is a that he IS a completely polarizing player. A-Rod is the villain, the cheater, the liar who was suspended the entire 2014 season, an unprecedented number of games, for his involvement in the Biogenesis performance enhancing drugs scandal (PEDs).
Beyond that he lied, time and time again, saying he’d taken PEDs during as younger, less seasoned big leaguer. Yet, he continued using them after moving from the Texas Rangers to the New York Yankees. Can we ever believe a word out of his mouth again? There more than a few baseball fans out there questioning whether his retirement announcement is even true. He is, afterall, allowed to change his mind.
On the other hand Rodriguez is a Hall of Fame caliber player. He has the numbers to prove it. He is currently fourth on the all-time home run list behind Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth. He’ll, undoubtedly over the course of the next two seasons, hit the total of 28 home runs he needs to surpass Ruth for third place. As for RBI, only Aaron, Ruth and Cap Anson have driven in more runs. Then there’s also that part about him being a member of the 3,000 hit club.
A-Rod is a three time MVP and a 14-time all-star. Even those who supposedly despise him will stop and watch his at-bats as anything can happen. He can be mesmerizing and is one of the greatest hitters of this or any generation
Of course, Rodriguez is a very unlikely candidate for an actual plaque in Cooperstown. As the voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) have shown, they don’t allow cheaters into the Hall of Fame having not elected other players like Bonds, Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens. Each of whom have numbers deserving of the Hall of Fame but were caught up in PED scandals. The BBWAA electorate has made it clear that they do not honor those who have cheated.
One of the most tragic underlying storylines for players like McGwire, Bonds, Clemens and A-Rod is that is it unlikely that any one of them would have actually needed to take PEDs to have secured a spot in the Hall of Fame. They were all well on their way to the Hall prior to using.
A-Rod was a skinny kid of 18 when he debuted with the Seattle Mariners and spent parts of the next seven seasons with the team. During that span he was a four-time all-star who led the league in batting average, runs, doubles and total bases at age 20 in 1996 and in hits in 1998. In Seattle he has a slashline of .309/.374/.561 while averaging 27 home runs and 85 RBI a season and soon after got what was then, the biggest contract in history with the Texas Rangers.
Then came the PEDs …
To read the rest of my column on Alex Rodriguez and how his final years could be received in so many ways head over to Today’s Knuckleball by following the link below: